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When a human gets a runny nose, it's typically more annoying than worrisome. But what does a runny nose mean for dogs? It could mean nothing, it could be an infection or allergies or it could be something else altogether. Here's some more information about runny noses in canines and whether it's a sign that it's time for a vet visit:
A runny nose - also referred to as nasal discharge - is actually pretty common with dogs. It could be a symptom of various issues, ranging from mild to moderate (such as as allergies, nausea and viral, bacterial or fungal infections) to more severe (toxicities and poisoning, trauma, foreign body in the nose, narrowing of the nasal passages, bleeding disorder, cancer or growths).
Did You Know? Dogs can be allergic or sensitive to several of the things that bother humans like dust, pollen and mold.
In addition, brachycephalic breeds (those with short noses and flat faces) are more prone to nasal discharge as well as respiratory issues. For these breeds, nasal discharge may be accompanied by sneezing, coughing, loud breathing, difficulty breathing.
Pro Tip: If your dog exhibits any of these signs in addition to itching, decreased appetite and/or lethargy, it may be time to talk to your vet.
Unfortunately, there's not much you can do to prevent your dog from getting a runny nose. One recommendation is to stay clear of dry brush and dry lands can be helpful.
Pro Tip: Avoid grass awns (also known as foxtails). They can enter the nose, causing discomfort and even damage to the nasal passages. In severe cases, these awns can end up in the lungs and cause abscesses.
In most cases, a dog's runny nose doesn't need treatment, particularly if the nasal discharge is mild and clear. However, if your dog has prolonged (more than a week) or unusual nasal discharge (severe, bloody, crusty, thick, or green), it's a good idea to talk to your vet.
Pro Tip: If nasal discharge occurs on only one side of your dog's nose, it may be time to call your vet - especially if your dog is sneezing or snorting a lot.
And of course, if your dog shows signs of sickness (lethargy, decreases appetite, difficulty breathing, and even severe coughing and sneezing), it's time to see the vet.