Does your dog have a runny nose? How to tell if this is a problem

Does your dog have a runny nose? How to tell if this is a problem

Health & Safety

Dogs are generally considered to be in good health if their nose is moist and well lubricated, and a dry nose can, in some cases, be an indication of a problem. However, there is a difference between a lubricated nose and one that is snotty or running, and it is important to learn to tell the difference between the two, in order to monitor any changes that may be occurring within your dog, and notice if something is amiss.

Obviously your dog may develop a runny nose if they have a cold or other illness, but if they otherwise appear to be in good health, do you know what a runny nose can potentially mean for your dog, and whether or not it is a problem? In this article, we will look at some of the main causes of a runny nose in the dog, and how to tell if it is an issue for concern or not. Read on to learn more.

What causes a runny nose in the dog?

A runny nose or a nose that is slicker and more lubricated than it should be can be caused by a whole variety of things. Before we get on to identifying the different types of runny nose and which of them are cause for concern, first of all we’ll take a look at some of the potential causes of a runny nose.

Some potential reasons are:

  • A simple case of a minor cold.
  • A respiratory infection, such as a viral or bacterial infection.
  • Allergies to certain compounds.
  • Excitement.
  • Nervousness or stress.
  • A foreign body lodged in the respiratory tract.
  • A dental abscess.
  • A cleft palate.
  • Some forms of cancer.

Narrowing down the problem by means of examining the type of nasal discharge, including factors such as the consistency, colour and amount of it, can help you to identify if something is amiss. We will now cover the most common types of nasal discharge.

A clear nasal discharge

If your dog’s nasal discharge is clear and thin, and appears to only present when your dog is excited, stressed or nervous, this is not a problem in and of itself, and is just a part of the body’s adrenaline reactions.

However, if their nose is constantly runny with a clear, thin discharge, this can be an indication of a viral infection such as canine flu or distemper, and so it is important to get your dog checked out by your vet.

Dogs that suffer from allergies, such as to certain compounds in food, pollen or other things, will generally have a thin, clear nasal discharge accompanied by watery eyes when their allergies are playing up. They may also have skin problems or appear to be itchy and uncomfortable, and in this case, addressing the cause of the allergy and your pet’s reaction to it can help to resolve the discharge.

A thick nasal discharge

If your dog’s nose has a thick, gooey or snotty discharge coming from it, which is present for several hours or longer, it is possible that your dog has a respiratory infection such as a cold, or something else viral or bacterial in nature. You can try to wipe the discharge off the nose and allow your dog to clear their head with steam or fresh air, but you may need to see the vet if the problem continues for more than 48 hours without easing, which will usually happen if your dog has simply picked up a cold.

A yellow, runny discharge

If your dog has a yellowish nasal discharge that is also thin and runny, particularly if this comes accompanied by a cough, noisy breathing and general lethargy or any other symptoms, your dog may be in the earlier stages of canine flu, and so you should take them along to the vet for a diagnosis.

If food, water or discharge comes out of one nostril

If your dog has a discharge from only one nostril, particularly if they seem to end up with food or water coming out of their nose when they eat and drink, there is likely something going on inside of your dog’s mouth that you might not be aware of. Abscesses, tumours, a foreign body in the mouth and even minor cleft palate deformities can lead to a single nostril discharge, and so getting your vet to thoroughly examine your dog’s mouth is vital.

Canine nose bleeds

If your dog has a bloody nasal discharge, whether this is heavy or just consists of a little blood in the mucous, you should contact your vet straight away. Nose bleeds can be caused by a variety of things, ranging from something simple like a grass seed stuck in the nasal passages, through to the early stages of a tumour developing.

It may also be the sign of an accident or trauma, or due to an infection, but regardless, veterinary diagnosis and advice is vital.



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