Bloody Nose Discharge in Dogs

Updated November 21, 2016

Discharge from your dog's nose may range from clear to bloody. Thin, clear discharge is usually related to allergies, especially if sneezes accompany it. However, anything that is thick, cloudy, green or bloody could signal underlying health issues, some of them serious.

Signs of Ilness

Usually, but not always, a healthy dog's nose will be cool and moist. However, if nasal discharge is present and appears thick, green, grey, yellow, bubbly, or has a foul odour, this indicates a health issue. You should see your veterinarian if any of these symptoms appear because your dog may have foreign objects, including grass or weeds, in the nose, or an infection in roots of the upper teeth.

Bloody Discharge

Sometimes a hard sneeze can cause minimal bleeding in your dog's nose. However, if your dog's nose is bleeding, and there has been no sneeze, you should be concerned. A bloody nose without a sneeze indicates your dog could have a fungal infection or cancer.

Tests for the Causes of the Bloody Discharge

If your dog's nose bleeds without episodes of sneezing, you should see your veterinarian. He will need to run tests to determine the root cause of the bleeding. Your veterinarian may take X-rays or computed tomography (CT) scans of your dog's skull; insert a tube into your dog's nostril, called a rhinoscopy, wash fluid through your dog's nostrils; or biopsy its nose.

Common Examinations and What They Look For

A dog's nasal cavity is difficult to examine because there are many tiny passages (called turbinates) where diseases and particles can hide.

CT scans are more sensitive than skull X-rays and can detect disease in its early stages; but both examinations are used to discover bone damage in your dog's nose. Bone damage indicates the presence and severity of a fungus or cancer. These tests will also show the roots of the upper teeth. A severe infection of the roots may cause a hole (called an oral-nasal fistula) to develop between the palate and the nasal passages. Your veterinarian may choose to conduct a rhinoscopy where he inserts a plastic tube into the nostril to collect cells for a culture; this will tell him if the disease is a fungus or not. Also, your veterinarian may force fluid into the nostril from the back of the throat to dislodge foreign matter or collect cultures for further testing. Surgery may be required if all other tests fail to determine a cause for the bleeding.

Treatment for Nasal Disease

If your veterinarian discovers the cause for your dog's bloody nose, the treatments options will vary. Drug treatments are available for nasal mites and fungal infections. Fungal infections usually require several months of treatment. If tooth infections are the cause, the veterinarian may clean your dog's teeth or remove the infected teeth.

For tumours or cancerous growths, radiation therapy may be the best treatment option. However, it may only be available in large cities or veterinary schools. Because a dog's nose is a complicated structure, surgery is largely ineffective. Anti-cancer drugs do not successfully treat nasal tumours. You should know nasal tumours might expand into your dog's brain or break his facial bones; this would cause further symptoms such as behavioural changes, seizures and facial distortion.

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