PUPPIES

Puppy Runny Nose: Common Causes And Treatments

Dog nose
Wyatt Robinson
Written by Wyatt Robinson

Puppy runny nose is one of the illnesses that pet parents find it to be bothersome. When a puppy has runny nose, it can present itself as a symptom from a treatable common illness. However, it can also be a sign of something more serious like an infection or a chronic condition that requires the veterinarian’s attention.

In general, runny nose in puppies are quite harmless, especially when the discharge is clear. It is often considered as a normal body process to sweep away the particulates found in the respiratory tract that cannot be eliminated by the expelling mechanisms in the respiratory system. However, the discharge may pose as a problem or a warning indicator if it is somewhat cloudy, greenish, yellow, or has a distinct smell. These qualities may require the attention of your veterinarian.

Common causes of runny nose in puppies

Some of the most common causes of runny nose in puppies include the following:

Allergies — allergies bother dogs as much as humans do. When a puppy experiences runny nose that is accompanied by a clear discharge, it is highly likely that the cause is a particular allergen. Allergies can present themselves in particular season, food, particulate, pollen, or pollution. Like us, dogs both young and old experience reactions to chemicals, spores, mites, drugs, food, and even pollen. In fact, they can actually become allergic to the human counterpart of dander, which is the skin that we shed.

However, an allergic reaction symptom does not end in runny nose. There are several accompanying symptoms, which can include coughing, itchiness, sneezing, and even breathing problems. To learn more about information and treatments of dog allergies, go to our article on the topic.

Puppy sneezing

These can be prevented from triggering a reaction if the allergen has been identified and the puppy the exposure to such is inhibited. This can be something complicated to achieve, especially if you are not completely sure what the allergy is. It would be best to discuss this with your veterinarian to have better knowledge on what can be done, such as allergy tests, and even medical management by prescription of antihistamine medications.

Blockage — a blockage is different from a polyp or a tumor, although they share the same manifestation. Blockages are a foreign object that is stuck in the puppy’s nostril. This can be a blade of grass, or a seed. Because the start of the respiratory system of younger dogs are still underdeveloped and is very prone to instances of blockage. This is considered as one of the more common causes of runny nose in puppies, and is one of the easiest to detect. Puppies and young adult dogs often show pawing of nose, and due to agitation, it can trigger frequent sneezing and nosebleeds.

If the blockage is visible to the naked eye, like the blade of grass peeking outside the nostrils, it can be removed carefully by using a clean pair of tweezers. However, if you are not comfortable performing the extraction, you may secure an appointment with the puppy’s veterinarian to take out the blockage for you. Please bear in mind that strained extraction can actually inflict trauma and may trigger nosebleeds and irritation of the nasal lining that may often lead to irritation and further reaction such as increased nasal discharge.

Infection — when the discharge is not clear, and has a distinct tinge of pus or mucus, it is an indication of an ongoing infection. When the puppy is having a discharge, it can be something that is viral, fungal, or bacterial in nature. This can also be accompanied with choking or excessive coughing due to postnasal drip.

Puppy nose infection

There are several treatment choices that directly depend on the cause of the infection. If the infection is caused by bacteria, the veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics that should be taken consistently for several days. For cases of fungal infection, topical anti-fungal drugs will be prescribed to clear the sick puppy from the illness. There are also infections, particularly the cases that last for an extended period of time that may require surgical intervention.

Tumors and polyps — nasal polyps are usually the overgrown mucus glands inside the nasal cavity of dogs. It can be filled with mucus, pus, and blood. There are also tumors that are vascular, that are why some are very sensitive even to the slightest pawing and they tend to bleed profusely.

Tumors in the nasal cavity can be benign or malignant, that is why it should be examined and properly identified by the veterinarian. Tumors and polyps can lead to some systemic effects, such as appetite loss that is why it is important to have these checked at the soonest possible time. Usually, tumors and polyps require surgery depending on the discretion of the veterinarian.

Sick puppy

It can also become accompanied with several tests just to make sure that the specimen is benign or malignant. Benign tumors and polyps can be removed or just allow to stay intact if it does not interfere with breathing and normal body process. However, if the tumor or polyp is cancerous or malignant, it will be treated with chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Unfortunately, the prognosis of malignant nasal tumors is poor in general.

Anatomical considerations — brachycephalic breeds are more prone to nasal problems compared to breeds that have anatomically longer facial structure. Flat-faced breeds and puppies with floppy nasal cartilage are more exposed into potential hazards. In addition, because of the shorter length between the external elements and the internal respiratory system, brachycephalic dogs are in an increased risk of infection and other respiratory ailments.

Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome is one of the most prominent problems for dogs that share this anatomical feature. It is the medical term related to numerous upper airway problems that are considered quite common in dog breeds that are short-nosed and flat-faced such as the Pug and the Pekingese. A brachycephalic breed may experience partial blockage of the upper airway due to physical features such as an overly long soft palate, narrowed nostrils, or instances such as the collapse of the voice box.

Breathing difficulties may also happen because of the small windpipe, which is another distinct characteristic common to the brachycephalic breeds. Some dogs are just more prone to nasal discharge compared to others. Brachycephalic breeds are again in the disadvantage side because they have a floppy, soft cartilage. Normal breathing that is quite noisy or wheezy is also indicative of nostril issues. Sometimes, surgery is necessary for dogs born with small nostrils, and is applicable for those with problems in the cartilage portion of the nasal cavity.

However, surgery is sometimes delayed until the dog reaches maturity because the structure can still grow and increase in size and improve or worsen in state.

Distemper — canine distemper is a systemic situation that is one of the more serious indications of a runny nose. The most affected systems are respiratory and gastrointestinal systems, and the most common symptoms include nasal and oral discharge. There is also wheezing, coughing, and vomiting as well as diarrhea.

Due to the massive extent that canine distemper can do, it is important to identify this condition at the soonest possible time. Secondary bacterial infections can be from a viral infection. However, distemper can progress and can present extremely serious neurological symptoms.

Canine distemper will be treated based on the manifesting symptoms, which may include antibiotics, sedatives, painkillers, and even anticonvulsants. Prevention is the best kind of treatment, which means that puppies should be vaccinated three times during the ages of eight up to sixteen weeks. Vaccinating breeding females several weeks before mating can also prevent the chances of contracting canine distemper. Our helpful guide on dog canine distemper is a must-read for you, so check it out.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever — the Rocky Mountain spotted fever can manifest nasal discharge, and even nosebleeds that can be indicative of a bacterial infection. Coughing, high fever, eye inflammation, and generalized pain. Medical management will include several weeks of antibiotic treatment as prescribed and monitored by the veterinarian. Most dog experts believe that the best way to prevent such illness is to use anti-tick products, as well as reduction of exposure to ticks by refraining from going to places that have been known to have tick infestations.

Cleft palate and/or fistula — this is different from the condition that brachycephalic dogs have. The most identifying factor that determines whether or not the dog has a cleft palate is when he has nasal discharge after it eats. This means that there is a cleft palate. Such condition occurs when the dog’s palate do not fuse together, leaving a hole between the mouth and the nose.

There can also be an instance of nasal-oral fistula, which is a hole between the mouth and the nose that is often caused by infection, tooth decay, injury, or even surgery. The most common treatment for oral-nasal fistulas and left palates is surgery.

How to stop a dog’s nose bleed

While nose bleeding is different from having a runny nose, it can be the progression of a simple runny nose that got worse. The increase in nasal discharge may agitate the puppy and may increase the tendency to damage the blood vessels around the nasal cavity that may rupture and trigger a nosebleed. Sneezing from an infection, a foreign object, polyps, bleeding disorders, it tells a lot of clues that can be deciphered by veterinarians to identify what the root cause of the problem is.

In cases of nose bleeding, especially for younger dogs, it is important as a pet parent to somehow know the basic first aid that can be done before it receives the more advanced medical attention it needs:

  • Allow the dog to relax and keep calm.
  • Remove any things or sources that may agitate the dog, such as loud music, busy roads, and noisy machines at home.
  • Cover the bleeding nostril with something absorbent.
  • Use a cold compress and apply to the top of the dog’s nose, specifically placed between the nostrils and the eyes.
  • Never tilt the dog’s head back. This is the most common practice for humans, but it is important not to tilt or place anything inside the dog’s nostrils because it may actually worsen the situation.
  • Contact your veterinarian right away if the initial intervention did not help at all, and when the bleeding does not stop after a couple of minutes.

 Remember: If there are any behavioral changes in your dog, chances are there is something wrong beyond the agitation and anxiety.

Taking care of your fur baby’s nose

The most common myth that is still believed nowadays is that a wet nose is one of the best signs of a healthy dog. That complete mistake should have been erased in the minds of beginning pet parents. Even a sick dog can have a wet, dry, hot, or cold nose. This is why the wetness factor is never an accurate indicator of your dog’s health.

Checking your puppy nose

By examining your dog’s nose, it is important to determine any signs of unusual discharge, which can be anything from smelly nasal drip to bloody discharge. Runny nose does not end in having an excessive discharge. Crusting, over drying, and even cracking due to excessive scratching or pawing are also indicative of a relevant respiratory problem. It is extremely important to understand that the symptoms should not be neglected because they might be the manifestation of an iceberg-like condition that may lead to life-threatening situation.

Dogs cannot express their pain and discomfort, that is why it is important for pet owners to be a good observant especially when the dog starts to display noticeable behavioral changes. The sooner the symptoms and changes have been identified, the sooner the treatment and medical management can be given. This is one of the factors that hurt the pet parents because either the pet parent noticed the change and symptoms very late that the dog’s life now hangs in a balance.

Running away from runny nose

Prevention is always better than cure. For the intermediate and advanced level dog enthusiasts, they are more aware of the limitations and disadvantages of the breeds they are taking care of. It is important to know the limits and health considerations of the dog breed you are handling, because it gives you a clear picture on what to expect in terms of symptoms that manifest whenever the dog feels sick. When the pet parent is well informed, there are a lot of illnesses that can be prevented or treated promptly compared to others that have no idea what is going on.

Keeping yourself updated with the current trends and up-to-date situations regarding your pet can be very helpful in the long run. It may consume most of your time, but keep in mind of the time you might waste if the present condition of your dog is quite unprepared for any kind of illness or condition.

The power of vaccination

There are a lot of illnesses in dogs that include runny nose as one of the primary symptom. By keeping your fur babies vaccinated, you remove them from the dangerous instance of exposing them to illnesses that pose a threat to their health. There are even some illnesses that can affect humans that is why it is really important to keep the vaccination scheduled and administered on a timely basis.

Canine distemper, parainfluenza, and even bordetella can be easily prevented from happening. Vaccination disables the possibility of cross-infection and a compromise in health status not only by the affected dog, but to the other pets in the house as well.

Vaccination

If there is more than one dog in the house, make sure that all fur babies in the house are vaccinated and did not miss any vaccination schedule. See our guide on your puppy’s vaccination schedules in order to protect your fur baby. The amount of trouble, worry, and stress that can be prevented by just completing the recommended vaccination is something that is quite rewarding. This is because of the stress that will be less likely to occur for vaccinated dogs and the trauma that serious illnesses that are associated with runny nose can actually inflict to the pet parent and his family members.

In conclusion

Runny nose in puppies and mature dogs can say a lot about the dog’s health level. It may offer mixed signals, but if you have been informed on what needs to be observed and applied, it can save you from the trouble of worrying too much or even help you with the initial intervention that you can apply. When a dog is injured, it may require your usual attention plus more. It can take a couple of weeks before the dog can go back to its normal routine, especially if the runny nose presents as one of the symptoms of a more serious condition.

It is important for the pet parent that a collaborative effort should be performed between the pet parent and the attending veterinarian because it has to be ensured that the assessment, management, and care that the dog needs will be addressed and provided to keep the recovery process from the primary illness be a less stressful and trouble-free experience.

Check out our list of the top dog vitamins to help your dog be in tip-top shape.

About the author
Wyatt Robinson
Wyatt Robinson

Wyatt Robinson had a great 25-years career as a veterinarian in United Kingdom. He used to be a member of British Veterinary Association and worked in 3 pet hospitals in London and Manchester. He is shining when he sees his pets healthy and full of energy and it is his duty to help other dog owners to keep their best friends full of life.

  • Liz Fraser

    I was always under the impression that wet nose is a legitimate indicator for a dog’s health. This article proved me wrong! Turns out, there are far more reasons that a dog can sport a wet muzzle, all that remains is looking out for them!

    • Wyatt Robinson

      A moist nose is fine, but a runny nose is definitely something else. When the muzzle is wet, then the discharge is too much and may warrant an appointment with the veterinarian.

  • Samantha Grey

    Can sulfur soap help in treating mange? I’ve read that it’s a great skin cleanser that’s also safe for pets. How true is it? Would you recommend using it together with topical ointments?

    • Wyatt Robinson

      Sulfur soap helps mange, although I would recommend consulting the veterinarian regarding this as the sulfur compound can be too strong for some cases. As an alternative, oatmeal soaps can also provide relief.

  • Amber Hart

    Now I have a name to the thing and a memory along to boot! So discharges are the mucus, and etc. that comes from the pooch’s nose, huh? Well that’s one thing to note in case my dog gets an infection. The one noteworthy thing to do, I guess is to make the pooch comfortable and try to get an appointment with the vet asap. The rest of the effort goes to treating the pooch!

    • Wyatt Robinson

      Some runny nose cases are self-limiting, although there are cases that require further medical intervention especially when the runny nose is caused by allergies or an underlying infection. Regardless, I agree that at first sight it is better to get the dog to the veterinarian.

  • Keisha Alba

    Hello. Our pit bull had five pups last week, one did not make it. We noticed over the past two days that the remaining four pups are sneezing and have yellow mucous coming out of their noses. Should we be worried? Is it too soon to give them otc medicine?

    • Wyatt Robinson

      Sorry for the late response, but this might be something more systemic. I would recommend a quick visit to the veterinarian to make sure that the medical management is on point.

  • Carrie Phelps

    Wyatt I noticed that my 11 month puppy has a runny nose. It is more noticeable when he is asleep, mostly because this is when he isn’t able to lick out of sight. Most times the mucus is clear and other days it appears to be quite yellowish. He is still just as energetic and feeds properly? But I fear maybe he has a cold? Is there a way to know for certain? As he doesn’t sneeze or breathe hard.

    • Wyatt Robinson

      Hi Carrie! How’s your dog? Did you bring him to a vet to have his runny nose checked? I hope all is well with you and your dog. Let me now how’s everything from your end.

  • Virgil Chandler

    I was working in the shed (I am a carpenter) last week and my pup was there with me and I think he inhaled some of the wood particles and now his nose won’t stop running, I feel the particles are obstructing his air passage? Is there a solid way I can address this without having to go to the vet?

    • Wyatt Robinson

      Hello Virigil! How is your dog? I hope he is better and his nose has stopped running now. Drop a note for an update and let me know if you have other questions.

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