french bulldog sick with icepack on head

Dog Runny Nose: What Are The Causes and Its Treatment

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When we have a runny nose, it is not too difficult for us to identify the possible reasons. It could be due to seasonal allergies, sickness or even respiratory infections. Furthermore, us humans are able to communicate our symptoms effectively to healthcare professionals to assist them with finding the root cause of our illnesses.

yellow labrador retriever

This is however a stark contrast for dogs. When they have a runny nose, they are unable to express this or inform anyone through oral communication. This may cause their owners to adopt a nonchalant attitude to their symptoms and not pay them any attention. Dog owners should be alert towards symptoms of a runny nose in your dog such as sneezing and sniffling, because you might need more than just a soft cloth for your dog's nose.

If you want to be assured that your dog's runny nose is not a cause for concern, keep on reading to find out more. 

What is Runny Nose?

black dog with runny nose

Akin to human experience, sneezing and nasal discharge is a clear indication that your dog is having a runny nose. Both healthy and unwell dogs can experience runny noses.

But is this something you should be worried about? It differs on a case-to-case basis. The runny nose experienced by your dog might be due to a seasonal allergy or, worse, a sign of having a more serious respiratory condition. The best action to take is to narrow down the possibilities and make the right decision for your dog.


Sneezing and nasal discharge are the most common symptoms you must look out for. If this is only for a day or two, there is nothing much to worry about. However, if it persists, a trip to the vet should be considered immediately. The nasal discharge's colour and viscosity should also be observed. Yellow or thick green discharges indicate a more serious condition than just a runny nose.

sick short coated white puppy

Additionally, another thing to look after is your dog's eyes, especially if it is swollen, puffy and or watery. If this is accompanied by an irritated and frequent pawing at the face and rubbing of the nose, this confirms your dog’s runny nose.

It is crucial to pay attention to your dog and the symptoms they may exhibit. One thing you can do is to observe their breathing. Difficulty in breathing or noisy breathing that goes together with a heavy and gruff noises are also some of the symptoms of a runny nose.

Your dog's mood can also be another thing to look out for. Decreased appetite is also another sign. Your dog may also experience weakness and fatigue along with the other symptoms mentioned.

Regardless of the symptoms, it is imperative to remember that prevention is better than cure. It is always a good decision to deal with the signs and symptoms as soon as possible and not let their condition deteriorate further.


Health and welfare are essential to a dog's happy life. Thus, being able to find relief is a necessity. This can be done by determining the primary cause of your dog's runny nose.

Countless possibilities may explain your dog's runny nose, and even though some of these may not be severe, it is still a fact that it might be pointing towards underlying chronic infections.

happy brown and black beagle walking on green grass

Below are the possible things that you can look out for to identify the cause behind your dog's runny nose:

Seasonal Allergies

Like humans, dogs experience seasonal allergies too, which may lead to a runny nose. Some of the reasons that lead to seasonal allergies include food, parasites, and other environmental allergens.

Apart from having a runny nose, it may be accompanied by other symptoms such as sneezing, red, swollen, watery eyes, and clear nasal discharge. It is also important to look at other symptoms of seasonal allergies, such as itching, inflamed skin, ear discharge, and digestive problems, which may include vomiting.

These symptoms occur as a response of your dog's immune system to the allergens. This happens when your dog encounters allergens and the immune system reacts in the form of inflammatory responses through the symptoms mentioned above.

Seasonal allergies can arise only during certain times of the year. These can include but are not limited to things such as heightened nose sensitivity towards pollen from flowers, trees, and even fresh grass. Insects, mold, dust, and dust mites can also contribute to allergic reactions.

It is not easy to determine what exactly is causing the allergy or whether it is the reason for your dog's runny nose. That is why it is best to get your vet's advice and get the appropriate allergy medication.

Exposure to allergy-causing foreign objects may not be something to be so worried about as they are treatable. However, it does cause serious discomfort to your dog in the form of nasal irritation.


Another possible cause when a dog has a runny rose is that your dog may have contracted an infection that may be bacterial, fungal, or viral. Clear nasal discharge signifies a mild runny nose, but if it is yellow nasal discharge, this indicates you’re your dog might have a respiratory infection.

An example of a bacterial infection is the rocky mountain spotted fever. This causes bloody noses when exposed to infected ticks. Coughing, high body temperature, stupor, and swollen eyes are other symptoms experienced by this infection. These symptoms should never be taken lightly and the dog should seek immediate medical attention.

Bacterial infections are not the only thing to be worried about. Viral infections cause a common upper respiratory infection among dogs. Canine distemper, for instance, is caused by a viral infection. Symptoms may start with a simple watery discharge from the eyes, but other signs also include ones that are akin to rabies. This infection can also spread through sneezes.

Like canine distemper, canine influenza is also another contagious disease caused by viral infections. Canine influenza symptoms are very similar to canine distemper, which requires veterinary medicine, but further treatment is needed when your dog develops a secondary bacterial infection after recovery.

Viral and bacterial infections can also cause kennel cough, another possible explanation towards your dog’s runny noses. This is also contagious, with symptoms such as stress, cold temperatures, exposure to foreign objects like dust or smoke, and unclean grooming facilities increase the probability of acquiring kennel cough.

Fungal infections are also another cause to look out for. When your dog's health is already compromised due to an infection, it can easily acquire a systemic fungal infection called nasal aspergillosis. When this happens, your dog's nose may experience some nasal discharge such as blood, sneezing, swollen nose, and other symptoms like a runny nose. It is important to have your veterinarian diagnose this early on as it is a highly invasive infection. Treatment of this infection requires antifungal drugs.

Conformation Issues

The conformation issues of a dog refer to problems with overall structure and appearance caused by genetic reasons or breeding. This might be another cause behind your dog's runny nose. Genetics tell us that there are certain dog breeds that are “luckier” to have longer snouts as they are less prone to respiratory problems. Thus, dog breeds such as the Greyhound, Beagle, Dachshund, German Shepherd, and others can be said to be better breeds that are less prone to medical complications.

beagle walking on grass field

On the other hand, there are dog breeds that are more prone to respiratory issues. Such breeds are known as brachycephalic dogs. Their nasal passages and nasal cavities are characterised by a short nose. Though this feature makes them look more adorable, it also means that they are prone to respiratory issues. Some examples of dog breeds are Pugs, Bulldogs, and Shih Tzus.

pug sitting on beige floor

Breeding is also one reason why conformation issues occur. Pet owners need to put their fur friend’s health first when considering breeding to avoid conformational issues that put the dog’s nasal conditions at risk.

Nasal Tumors

Your dog's runny nose might seem like something minor, but it may be coupled with other risks, too, just like the possibility of having a nasal tumor. It includes symptoms such as nasal discharge and noisy breathing. However, when that is accompanied by excessive sneezes, bloody nose, bloody discharge, face deformity, and seizures, immediate veterinarian diagnosis is required.

Dogs’ nasal conditions are at grave risk because they are locally aggressive. Nasal tumors are usually hidden in the nasal cavity and hence cannot be easily seen. Problems such as this should be attended to, and treatments should be done as early as possible.


If your dog's nose starts to have a clear discharge, and you are worried, schedule a meeting with your veterinarian as soon as possible. An early diagnosis will bring more accurate results. Treatments could also start sooner, avoiding complications or worsening the condition of your dog's runny nose.

Diagnosis may include procedures such as a review of the dog’s medical history, physical examination, and careful contemplation of all the symptoms exhibited. Your veterinarian may order further tests such as blood tests, x-rays, rhinoscopy, and other laboratory work for a more accurate diagnosis.

For possible microbial inhibitions such as viral, bacterial, or fungal, a sample of the nasal discharge will be collected by the vet and analysed to determine the real cause behind your dog's runny nose.

When to go to the Veterinarian?

a veterinarian checking a dog

As cliché as it may sound, prevention is still better than cure. As a pet owner, you should immediately bring your dog to the veterinarian at the earliest occurrence of signs and symptoms of a runny nose. This way, you can rule out any complications or unwanted reasons for your pup's runny nose.

Promptly reporting symptoms and attending to your dog's respiratory issues, such as runny nose, will not only guide your veterinarian in making an accurate diagnosis, but it is also about making sure that your pup is a healthy dog.


Treatment depends on the exact cause of your dog's runny nose. Veterinary medicine will also depend on the diagnosed cause.

If the runny nose is due to seasonal allergies, the vet may prescribe medication. A prevention measure to take is avoiding exposure to allergens altogether after an allergy test has been done to best determine the exact allergen that causes the runny nose of your dog.

For infections, antibiotics are needed to fight the invasive, harmful bacteria, while antifungal medicine will be needed for fungal infections. When a viral infection causes a runny nose, fluids may be prescribed by your vet to support recovery and strengthen the immune system. Anti-inflammatory medication may also be prescribed to help with the pain and swelling and to lower body temperature.

Conformational issues are hard to deal with. The best thing to do is to prevent the worsening of the runny nose, which may lead to worse cases such as periodontal disease, abscessed teeth, infection, and other symptoms, by giving proper and immediate treatment.

Depending on the condition, nasal tumors can be cured using radiation. Surgical removal of the tumors can also be another alternative. Pain management medication is also a necessary part of the treatment process.


Your dog having a runny nose may seem trivial, but you can never really be too sure when it comes to your their health and safety. It may signify many underlying issues that have yet to be surfaced. So why take risks if you can ensure your dog's health? Insure your dog now at