Why Do Dogs Get Runny Noses: Causes and Remedies

Dogs may have a runny nose due to various reasons, including a common cold, allergies, sinus infection, or a nasal foreign body. The color of the discharge and other associated symptoms can help identify the underlying cause. Treatment for a runny nose in dogs depends on the underlying cause, and prompt veterinary attention may be necessary in some cases.

In this article, we will explore the various causes and remedies for a runny nose in dogs<. We will also provide answers to some of the most common questions related to this topic.

Causes of a Runny Nose in Dogs

A runny nose in dogs can be caused by various factors, including the following:

1. Common cold in dogs

A common cold, also known as canine infectious respiratory disease complex (CIRDC), is a highly contagious viral infection that affects the upper respiratory tract of dogs. The virus is transmitted through direct contact with infected dogs, contaminated objects, or the environment. The symptoms of a common cold in dogs include coughing, sneezing, runny nose, and fever.

2. Allergies in Dogs

Allergies in dogs can cause a runny nose, among other symptoms. Just like in humans, dogs can be allergic to various things, including food, pollen, dust, and mold. The symptoms of allergies in dogs include sneezing, itching, runny nose, and skin irritation.

3. Sinus Infection

A sinus infection or sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinuses that can cause a runny nose in dogs. The condition may be caused by a bacterial or viral infection or an allergic reaction. The symptoms of sinusitis in dogs include sneezing, coughing, nasal discharge, and facial pain.

4. Nasal Foreign Body

A nasal foreign body is any object that enters the nasal cavity and causes irritation, pain, and a runny nose. The foreign body may be a piece of vegetation, a small toy, or a sharp object. In some cases, the object may be visible, while in others, radiographs may be needed to locate it. The symptoms of a nasal foreign body in dogs include sneezing, pawing at the nose, nasal discharge, and occasional bleeding.

Remedies for Runny Nose in Dogs

The remedy for a runny nose in dogs depends on the underlying cause. Here are some of the most common remedies for a runny nose in dogs:

1. Antibiotics

If the runny nose in a dog is caused by a bacterial infection, antibiotics may be necessary to treat the condition. The antibiotics may be given orally or as nasal drops or sprays, depending on the severity of the infection.

2. Allergy Medication

If the runny nose in a dog is caused by an allergy, antihistamines or corticosteroids may be prescribed to relieve the symptoms. These medications can be given orally or as injections depending on the severity of the allergy.

3. Nasal Decongestants

If the runny nose in a dog is caused by sinusitis, a nasal decongestant may be prescribed to reduce the inflammation and relieve the symptoms. The decongestant may be given orally or as nasal drops or sprays.

4. Removal of Nasal Foreign Body

If the runny nose in a dog is caused by a nasal foreign body, extraction of the object may be necessary. This may require general anesthesia or sedation, depending on the size and location of the object.

Preventing Runny Nose in Dogs

Here are some measures that you can take to prevent a runny nose in dogs:

1. Vaccination

Ensure that your dog is up to date with all vaccinations to prevent viral infections that can cause a runny nose.

2. Good Hygiene

Regularly clean your dog’s toys, bedding, and living area to prevent the spread of infections.

3. Avoid Exposure to Allergens

If you know that your dog is allergic to certain things, avoid exposure to those allergens as much as possible.

4. Supervision While Playing

Supervise your dog while playing to prevent accidental ingestion of objects that can cause a runny nose.

When to See a Vet

You should seek veterinary attention if your dog has a runny nose accompanied by any of the following symptoms:

  • Coughing and/or sneezing
  • Fever
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Nasal discharge that is persistent, bloody, or foul-smelling

These symptoms may indicate a more serious underlying condition that requires prompt medical attention.

Common Questions and Answers related to ‘Why do dogs get runny noses’

1. Can I give my dog human cold medicine for a runny nose?

No, you should never give your dog human cold medicine without first consulting a veterinarian. Most human cold medicines contain ingredients that can be toxic to dogs or cause adverse reactions.

2. Can allergies in dogs cause a runny nose?

Yes, allergies in dogs can cause a runny nose, among other symptoms such as itching, sneezing, and skin irritation.

3. Can I prevent my dog from getting a runny nose?

While it may not be possible to completely prevent a runny nose in dogs, there are measures you can take to reduce the risk. These measures include vaccinating your dog, practicing good hygiene, avoiding exposure to allergens, and supervising your dog while playing.

4. What are the signs of a sinus infection in dogs?

The signs of a sinus infection in dogs include sneezing, nasal discharge, coughing, and facial pain. In severe cases, the dog may also have a fever and difficulty breathing.

5. How is a nasal foreign body in dogs diagnosed?

A nasal foreign body in dogs can be diagnosed through physical examination or radiography. If a foreign object is visible, it may be removed immediately. In some cases, sedation or general anesthesia may be necessary to remove the object.


  • American Kennel Club. Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex. Retrieved from https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/canine-infectious-respiratory-disease-complex/
  • Merck Veterinary Manual. Nasal Discharge in Dogs. Retrieved from https://www.merckvetmanual.com/dog-owners/lung-and-airway-disorders-of-dogs/nasal-discharge-in-dogs
  • McCurnin, D. M., & Bassert, J. M. (2013). Clinical Textbook for Veterinary Technicians. Saunders.

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