why is my dog's nose running

Why Is My Dog’s Nose Running?

A runny nose is a common thing among human beings. Often it is a mild irritation and therefore nothing to cause worry. For dogs, however, it is not as simple. There is a broader range of causes for runny noses in dogs. A dog may be nervous, or its life may be in danger and thus require immediate medical attention.

No matter the case, the question of “Why is my dog’s nose running?” should cause you to take action. A simple irritation is nonetheless uncomfortable for your loyal furry friend. Here are some causes of a dog’s runny nose and tips on treating the milder problems at home. You will learn how to tell when to see a vet.

What Causes a Runny Nose in Dogs?

what causes a runny nose in dogs

Several factors and conditions can cause a runny nose in dogs. Some are environmental factors, while other causes have to do with the dog’s internal state. Seasonal changes, for example, could cause allergic reactions. Here are some reasons that should concern you.

Seasonal allergies

Seasonal rhinitis is not exclusive to human beings. Certain dog breeds are especially susceptible to runny noses as the seasons change. Pollen, for example, could cause your dog to have watery eyes, a clear discharge from the nose, sneezing, constant scratching, and itching. Some dogs feel the effects of seasonal changes all year round. Home natural remedies have proven effective in addressing such irritations. If, however, the symptoms persist, you may need to take your dog to see a vet.

Foreign objects in the nose

Your dog may be harboring foreign objects in the nasal passages. Such obstructions will induce a runny nose and other symptoms like sneezing and pawing at the nose. Your dog may also have a nose bleed. You can ease your dog’s suffering by removing the object from the nasal passages using tweezers. Be careful in the process and take your pet to the vet if you can’t safely remove the object.

Dog flu

Canine influenza is a highly contagious virus that dogs pick at parks, grooming facilities, kennels, and other places where dogs socialize. Your dog could pick it up through direct contact with infected dogs or in water bowls, mats, blankets, laches, and such items. You will notice your dog has a fever, sneezes, coughs, is lethargic, and has lost its appetite.

Other infections

Your dog may be suffering from a bacterial, fungal, or viral infection. Nasal mites could also cause a runny nose. An infection typically comes with a foul mouth odor, coughing, a bloody nose, and excessive mucus production. It would be best if you took your dog for treatment. You will prevent further complications from an infection the sooner you get a vet to put your dog under medication.


Distemper is a deadly viral disease that is highly contagious and deserves special mention. While there is a vaccine for distemper, an unvaccinated dog can easily pick it from other dogs or wild animals. Distemper presents with a thick yellow nasal discharge, watery eyes, fever, seizures, cough, and excessive salivation.

The best defense against distemper is vaccination since there is no cure for the disease. You, therefore, need to get your pet vaccinated and keep proper records consistently. If you notice your dog is showing the discussed symptoms, seek a vet’s intervention immediately.


There are dog breeds that are bound to have runny noses. Flat-faced dogs like Pugs and Boxers, for example, will have respiratory complications. The shape of their airways either makes breathing difficult or exposes their nasal passages to the environment too much. A resilient breed will endure such conditions well, but the dog may need surgery in severe cases.

Nasal tumors

Dogs are susceptible to cancer in the nose, with nasal adenocarcinoma being the most common type. Your dog will sneeze and have a nasal discharge from one or both nostrils. The discharge will be white, yellow, or mixed with blood. Also noticeable is noisy breathing and facial deformities. You will notice reduced appetite, weight loss, coughs, and neurologic symptoms. 

Is Your Dog Predisposed to Having a Runny Nose?

is your dog predisposed to having a runny nose

Certain breeds are at a disadvantage that makes them likely to suffer a runny nose. 

  • Brachycephalic breeds like the flat-nosed Frenchies, Boxers, and Pugs are among them. These breeds usually develop a thick nasal discharge and can easily catch infections.
  • Hunting dogs that spend a lot of time in the fields can get grass awns in their noses, thus developing a runny nose. These dogs are also likely to get an injury that causes a fistula between the mouth and nasal cavity.
  • Dolichocephalic dog breeds, those with extra-long noses such as the Borzoi, can easily develop nasal tumors.
  • Small dogs that do not receive dental care could develop abscessed teeth. 

These ten dog breeds are especially susceptible to seasonal rhinitis:

  • German Shepherd
  • Irish Setters
  • Pit Bull Terrier
  • Schnauzers
  • Boxer
  • Bichon Frise
  • Golden Retriever
  • West Highland Terriers
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • Dalmatians

How Do You Treat Your Dog’s Runny Nose?

dog is taken to a vet to treat runny nose
Photo by Gustavo Fring from Pexels

Treating a dog’s runny nose depends on the cause and exhibited symptoms. You can treat seasonal allergies at home. More complicated or prolonged reactions, however, necessitate immediate medical attention. Here is what you can handle at home.

  • You can treat seasonal rhinitis using antihistamines, steroids, or other allergy medications. If the allergic reaction is not seasonal, find out what irritant is present in your home and remove it. Your dog should soon be back to normal. You should also consult the vet to advise you on common household items that can cause an allergic reaction.
  • There are prescription antibiotics for treating bacterial infections at home. Sometimes vets give fungal infections time to clear on their own. If the fungal infection persists, the vet will prescribe antifungal drugs.
  • You can also prevent dental diseases that lead to a runny nose through proper dental hygiene. You, therefore, need to clean your dog’s teeth regularly. If a dental problem persists, schedule an appointment with the vet.

Check the environment where you take your dog for a walk. Pay close attention to your pet when out playing or walking. An object can lodge in its nasal cavity painlessly and cause a runny nose later. Make a habit of examining your pet’s nasal passage and coat for such foreign objects.

Serious Cases

There are, however, other cases that will need the vet’s attention.

  • If the runny nose persists despite your best efforts at home, you need to take the dog to the vet. The cause could be something serious such as nasal cancer. Most cases of runny noses in dogs are a result of nasal cancer. Nasal cancer treatment involves removing the cancerous tumors. Such surgery is complicated due to the structure of a dog’s nasal passages. The earlier it is diagnosed, the greater the chances of success in the surgery.
  • You can address food allergies through a limited ingredient diet. The vet will prepare a plan that eliminates the common food allergens from the dog’s diet. Those foods are then slowly reintroduced one by one to determine which one caused the allergic reaction. The limited ingredient diet works better than buying hypoallergenic dog foods. 
  • If your dog has a runny nose due to an injury or nasal obstruction you cannot clear, seek immediate vet attention. The faster the case is addressed, the faster your dog will recover. You will also save your pet from so much pain and discomfort. 
  • You also need to ensure that your dog receives all its vaccinations and prescribed medication. Prevention works best in most cases, as diseases such as distemper have no cure. Minimizing the risk of infection also prevents your dog from suffering so much pain and health complications. 
  • Keep your pet clean and hygienic at all times. After a walk or play outside, brush its coat to ensure no foreign objects are clinging to it. Reduce exposure to dangerous environments where your pet could get injured or contract diseases.
  • Your dog’s curiosity could land it in problems, and so your care and attention when out there matters. 


A runny nose is something that should worry you. There are many causes, as discussed, and also many ways to address them. You can handle some cases at home while others need the attention of a vet. Whatever the case, you need to take immediate action when you notice your dog has a runny nose.

A runny nose with a clear discharge and no other symptoms is easy to treat. If, however, you notice the runny nose is white, yellow, or mixed with blood and accompanied by other symptoms, you need to seek medical attention. The faster you consult a vet, the quicker you stop your dog from suffering.

You now understand what to do when you find yourself asking, “Why is my dog’s nose running?”

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