Cures for a dog's runny nose

Updated October 06, 2017

Dogs develop runny noses for a variety of reasons, each of which has a different cure. Before you can attempt to cure your pet's runny nose, you must diagnose its cause correctly. For that, you'll probably have to see your veterinarian. Cures for a dog's runny nose include antibiotics, allergy medications, dietary changes and surgical removal of foreign objects, polyps and nasal tumours.


If your dog's nose is running, it's a sign that all is not well with his or her upper respiratory tract. You can tell a lot about what may be causing your dog's problem by the colour of the nasal discharge.


By far the most common reason for a dog's runny nose is allergic rhinitis, according to "Caring for Your Dog: the Complete Canine Home Reference," by veterinarian Dr. Bruce Vogel. Dogs get hay fever from grass seeds and pollen just like people do. If your dog has clear nasal discharge along with runny eyes and sneezing, allergic rhinitis is the likely culprit.

The way to cure a runny nose resulting from allergic rhinitis is to keep your pet away from the allergens responsible. Your vet may recommend testing to determine the allergens. Antihistamines, including diphenhydramine and chlorpheniramine, may be prescribed to treat the runny nose if it's impossible for your pet to avoid them.


Runny noses also occur in dogs suffering from bacterial, viral or nasal infections. The nasal discharge in these animals contains yellowish mucus. Your vet will perform a culture on the discharge and prescribe treatment depending on the microorganisms causing the problem.

Most bacterial infections can be cured with a two-week course of a broad-spectrum antibiotic. Fungal infections, indicated by pinkish nasal discharge, are more stubborn, and they may require several months of treating your pet within an oral anti-fungal medication to cure.

A runny nose producing thick, purulent discharge is a symptom of both canine distemper and canine influenza. These virus-based diseases require a range of treatments including antibiotics and the administration of fluids to prevent dehydration until the dog's own immune system can respond. Vaccination will prevent distemper, but not cure it.

Foreign Objects

Discharge from only one nostril indicates the presence of a foreign object. If the object is visible, attempt to carefully remove it with tweezers. Otherwise, get your dog to the vet for a scan or to be sedated and have the object removed.

Polyps and Tumors

A chronic nasal discharge of any kind may indicate nasal polyps or tumours. Both can also cause bleeding. Polyps are surgically removed. Most vets recommend radiation therapy for canine adenocarcinoma. Cure rates are more favourable in other types of tumours if they are diagnosed early and treated with surgical removal, radiation therapy, chemotherapy or a combination of the three.

Cleft Palates and Oral Fistulas

A puppy that gets nasal discharge only after eating may have a cleft palate. The two sides of its palate have failed to fuse, leaving an opening between the nasal cavity and the mouth. Older dogs that have lost upper teeth to tooth decay may have channels, or fistulas, between their nasal passages and mouth. Both cleft palates and oral-nasal fistulas are cured with surgery.

Nasal Mites

An infestation of nasal mites may result in a clear discharge similar to that found in other conditions. Your vet will flush your dog's nasal passages to determine if mites are present. Both ivermectim and milbemycin oxime, according to the Merck Veterinary Manual, are used to treat nasal mites with an 85 per cent cure rate.

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About the Author

Passionate for travel and the well-written word, Judy Wolfe is a professional writer with a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from Cal Poly Pomona and a certificate in advanced floral design. Her thousands of published articles cover topics from travel and gardening to pet care and technology.