My dog has a runny nose - What do I do?

Posted by Dr. Jessica on

My dog has a runny nose - What do I do?

Many medical conditions are common in both humans and dogs - runny noses included. Unfortunately, dogs can’t wipe theirs with a Kleenex. 

Most canine runny noses are not serious health or medical issues. They tend to be short-lived and resolve on their own. If a dog is exhibiting nasal discharge that is discolored, thick, or bloody or if there is sudden and severe sneezing accompanied by lethargy and lack of appetite, pet parents should seek veterinary care. If a dog’s nose is simply running a little more than usual, here are a few reasons why that might be and what to do about different possible causes.

My dog has a runny nose - What do I do? 

Foreign substances 

Dogs are infamous for putting their noses where they shouldn’t, and sometimes things get stuck! A runny nose could indicate an object is obstructing the dog’s nasal passage. Even something as harmless as a blade of grass can cause irritation. If this is the case, the dog may be itching its nose more than normal, and nosebleeds or excess mucus may also occur. If upon inspection a small object is found and can’t be easily removed, consult a veterinarian for guidance or arrange for a veterinary professional to remove the foreign substance. 


Bacterial, fungal, and viral infections can all cause runny noses, along with other side effects including coughing, mucus, bloody noses, or even foul odors. To properly diagnose if a dog has an infection, as well as what kind, consulting a veterinarian is the best course of action. This way, the dog is guaranteed to receive the proper treatment and, if necessary, medication. 


Distemper is a very contagious, deadly viral disease similar to human measles. Dogs are routinely vaccinated for it, but unvaccinated dogs can contract the virus from other dogs or wild animals like racoons, coyotes, wolves, foxes, and skunks. Symptoms of distemper include:  

  • Thick yellow, nasal discharge 
  • Watery eyes or discharge 
  • Fever
  • Seizures, convulsions 
  • Cough
  • Excessive Salivation

There is no cure for distemper, so proper, routine vaccination is the best and safest option for dog health and safety. Keeping track of a dog’s vaccinations digitally is an easy way to know if your pet is up to date and at a lesser risk of contracting Distemper. If a dog is showing the above symptoms and has not been vaccinated for distemper, they should be taken to a vet immediately. 


Certain breeds are predisposed to runny noses for a variety of reasons. Flat-faced dogs, like boxers and pugs, can develop breathing problems as a result of the shape of their airways. Some cases are often mild and don’t require further care, but severe cases can be alleviated with surgery. 

Nasal Tumors

Dogs can develop cancer in the nose, the most common being nasal adenocarcinoma. Symptoms include sneezing, nasal discharge from one, or sometimes both nostrils, that is white, yellow, or has the presence of blood. Noisy breathing or facial deformities may occur as well. Some dogs may have decreased appetite, lose weight, cough, or have neurologic symptoms.


In general, mild runny noses with clear nasal discharge and no other symptoms can be treated at home. If a runny nose accompanies colored or bloody discharge, or other conditions like lack of appetite, difficulty breathing, or lethargy, consult a veterinarian or seek care immediately.

Have more questions about your dog’s runny nose, or how to help them? Contact Fuzzy via in-app or on-website 24/7 Live Vet Chat to ask about your dog’s runny nose, diet, behavior or other health needs.

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