When we have a runny nose or sniffles, we usually keep some tissues nearby to wipe our nose as we need it and just wait for it to pass. Some dogs naturally have a wet, or even moist, nose, but have you noticed that your dog has a runny nose now?
Is it something to be concerned about or should you let it pass? There could be a couple of reasons for your dog’s nose to be running, and here’s what you need to know about it.
Causes of Nasal Discharge in Dogs
Similar to the causes of a runny nose in humans, the reasons your dog might be experiencing nasal discharge could vary – ranging from allergies and irritants all the way up to an infection.
Dogs explore the world with their nose, and their sense of smell is so much stronger than ours. Since they are always smelling things, dogs are likely to inhale random particles as they go, including things we might not be exposed to since they walk so much closer to the ground than we do.
Things like dust, perfumes, and cleaning products are all kinds of environmental irritants that can cause nasal discharge in your dog.
Additionally, if your dog accidentally inhaled some dirt while walking outside or playing in the park this debris could irritate your dog’s nose and cause discharge.
The discharge happens to help flush out the irritants so your dog’s nose gets back to normal as soon as possible.
Also like humans, dogs can have allergies to certain kinds of environmental factors. Dogs can be allergic to pollen, mold, outside elements and more.
If your dog continually has a drippy nose you can make an appointment with your vet to see if it’s allergies and if there is any kind of medication available to help reduce the nasal discharge.
Your dog might only have seasonal allergies, or it could be year-round – it really depends on what your dog is allergic to.
The allergies could also be food-related, however, those kinds of allergies usually show up in the form of a rash or hives.
There are medications your vet can give you to help reduce the symptoms of allergies before they present so your dog isn’t suffering.
Some breeds are much more susceptible to having a runny nose than others. Flat-faced breeds – like pugs, boxers and bulldogs – can have trouble breathing due to the way their airways are structured.
When the cartilage in their nose becomes weak due to their heavy breathing over the years, they may start to get a runny nose on a regular basis. There are surgical options to help your dog breathe better – if you want to – and this will help with the runny nose issue.
Polyps and tumors
The chance of this happening isn’t super common, but it can happen to almost any dog. Signs of a polyp include one nostril swelling, decreased appetite and a pus-filled discharge from their nose.
If your dog has been running around, playing with other dogs it’s very common for them to develop a drippy nose temporarily. This situation is very similar to when children play outside and get a runny nose, and it’s nothing to worry about.
This happens because dogs cannot regulate their body temperature like humans do: through their skin.
Due to this, they secrete sweat from the pads of their feet and their noses to help them cool down, which looks like their nose is dripping.
Essentially dogs don’t have the sweat function, so when their body overheats it can cause clear fluid to drip from their nose.
While the other reasons for your dog’s running nose can be environmental or temporary, an infection is much more serious thing and something you definitely need to look into.
There are two kinds of infections: viral and bacteria. These two kinds of infections can often occur together as part of Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex, also known as kennel cough.
This is very similar to the common cold in humans, and so it’s not unusual for dogs to get a runny nose if they catch it.
Kennel cough is extremely contagious, though, so if you suspect your dog has this then you need to keep your dog away from other dogs.
How do you know if your dog has kennel cough?
There are a few obvious symptoms to look for in your dog if you suspect he might have kennel cough.
- a strong, honking cough
- runny nose
- loss of appetite
- low grade fever (though this might be hard to determine at home)
As we all know, dogs love to sniff their surrounding environment. In doing so, they can sometimes inhale foreign objects.
The nose will reject the foreign object and it will cause the nose to start running, sometimes even bleeding. If the object is in your dog’s nose for too long, it can cause an infection to grow.
This can also happen if your dog accidentally inhales a rodenticide, but in this case there will be more blood as these products are more likely to cause bloody nasal discharge.
If you suspect your dog has inhaled something, you should make an appointment with your vet to have it looked at.
The roots of the top teeth in your dog’s mouth are really close to the nasal passages, so if there’s an abscess or infection in the root of the tooth it can cause nasal drainage.
If your dog isn’t eating normally or seems to have pain while eating this could be the cause of the runny nose. You will definitely need to see your vet if this is the case.
What to Do for a Dog’s Runny Nose
If the nasal drainage for your dog is clear and watery, and your dog is acting normal, eating normal, and drinking a regular amount of water, then there is no need to panic or see the vet.
With normal, clear discharge it will usually clear up on its own.
There are times when it doesn’t resolve on its own, but it’s important to watch and note your dog’s behavior: are they eating, drinking, and still doing their business like they normally would?
If your dog is acting strange, with clear nasal discharge that doesn’t clear up, then you should also make an appointment with your vet to check it out.
When you should be worried is if the drainage is the drainage is white, yellow, green, or has blood in it.
For a bleeding nose, you can put a tissue (or cloth that is soft) up to the nose of your dog and try to tilt their head back to control the bleeding. After this, you should get your dog to the vet (or emergency vet) as soon as possible to have it checked out.
If you suspect that your dog has kennel cough, you can take your dog to the vet. Your vet can prescribe medication to help with the coughing so your dog (and you) can get some sleep while they get better.
If you know your dog has allergies – as previously discussed with your vet – you may have some options for at-home treatments.
In some cases, based on your dog’s individual needs, your vet may approve for you to give your dog a small dose of over-the-counter allergy medication to help with the symptoms. This should only be done if you have discussed this treatment plan with your vet and they approve of it.
Knowing when to take your dog to the vet is important, but that doesn’t mean any runny nose is cause for an emergency appointment. Monitoring your dog to make sure they are otherwise ok can go a long way to diagnosing the reason for your dog’s runny nose.
Every dog is going to be different, and so will be the cause of their runny nose. If they only have a runny nose and no other symptoms, then there likely isn’t cause for immediate concern.
If they start developing other symptoms – like lack of appetite, bloody discharge or coughing – then you should be following up with your vet as soon as possible.
There will be emergency vets in your area that are open at all times just in case you believe your dog may have inhaled a poison or foreign object. If this is the case, you definitely need to get your dog to the vet as soon as possible.
You know your dog best so keep an eye on them and determine whether you should bring them to the vet. If you have any questions or worries about your dog’s condition you can always call your vet to ask them what you should do.
Most times your dog’s runny nose is one of those adorable little quirks that makes your dog, your dog. If it isn’t normal for your dog to have nasal discharge then it’s important to keep an eye on it but this is only something you’ll be able to determine.