My Dog Has a Runny Nose – Should I Call the Vet?

While dog noses can be wet and cold when your dog is healthy, a runny nose is another matter. Any dog can suffer from a runny nose briefly if they have been exerting hard if they have just been drinking, or if they have sneezed due to dust or some other irritant in the air.

If your dog has a runny nose at other times, or their runny nose is persistent, there might be a reason for your pet to visit the veterinarian. Knowing more about why your dog could have a runny nose can help you to determine when this symptom might be part of a bigger problem with your pet’s health.

dog runny nose


Dogs can have seasonal allergies, just like people, and they can also have allergic reactions to things like other pets in the home, laundry soaps, and plants in the house or their yard. Your pet might also be allergic to other pets in the home. A runny nose that is combined with sneezing, red eyes, or a cough could be allergies. Your vet will be able to determine if your pet has allergies, and they can also rule out other illnesses with similar symptoms.

Colds and Flu

Dogs can get colds and flu just like people, and if your pet goes to the vet to be boarded or spends time at dog daycare, they will be more likely to pick up these illnesses from time to time. So long as your pet continues to drink water and eat their food, they might not need to see the vet. If you have a thermometer at home, you can also check their temperature to make sure that it is normal. Most dogs will have a temperature of about 101 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything warmer than that is a fever and warrants a call to see your vet.


If your pet’s runny nose comes along with foul-smelling discharge or coughing, or nosebleeds, you should take your pet to see your veterinarian. This is a sign that your pet might have a bacterial or fungal infection in their nose or nasal passages. This is not a very common problem, but pets can run into this issue secondary to a cold or in relation to something which has gotten into their nose and caused inflammation.

Foreign Body in the Nose

If your pet has been outside and inhaled a grass seed or a blade of grass, or they have been nosing around in the dirt and have gotten soil into their nose, they could end up with a runny nose. Sometimes your dog will be able to expel the item that is lodged in their nose through coughing or sneezing, but in many cases, your vet will be needed to remove this foreign object.

Make sure that you do not try to remove foreign items from your dog’s nose on your own. You could cause damage or a secondary infection to delicate structures due to your dog moving around or the object itself being sharp.

Nasal Mites

This parasite infects the sinuses and nasal passages in dogs, and it can cause irritation which leads to a runny nose. All breeds and ages of dogs are susceptible to these pests, and they can make your dog pretty uncomfortable. Look out for signs of nosebleeds, head shaking, impaired sense of smell, scratching at the face, or labored and noisy breathing.

A vet can confirm that these nasal mites are the cause of your dog’s runny nose and help your dog to get better by prescribing an antiparasitic medication to remove the invading pests from your dog’s nose.

Nasal Cancer

Dogs with nasal tumors, both benign and cancerous, will need to see the vet to be diagnosed correctly and treated. These growths might not need to be removed, but in many cases, your dog will feel much better if the tumor that is causing their runny nose is removed. Vets will usually need to do a CT scan to be able to visualize the tumor, and then they can recommend the course of treatment that they think will be best for your pet.

Your Dog is Too Hot

Dogs have more trouble regulating their temperature than humans do. They are not able to sweat over large portions of their body like people, and therefore the pads of their feet and their noses are the only places that can help to cool their bodies down. If your dog’s nasal discharge is thin and watery and it is warm out, you can usually assume that their runny nose is a sign that they are trying to cool off. Moving a dog with a runny nose into a cooler part of the house or coming indoors with them can help them to feel better and can halt their runny nose.

Dogs Can Have Runny Noses For Many Reasons

Dogs with runny noses might be experiencing many different health conditions, or they could just be a little warm due to hot weather. There are many reasons that your pet might have a runny nose, and you might need to check on the other symptoms that they are displaying to be able to decide if you need to take your dog to see the vet.

Always make sure that you trust your instincts about these kinds of concerns with your pet. If you have a feeling that they are just not acting right, you should contact your vet for advice and to schedule an appointment to see them. Having peace of mind is important, and your pet will thank you for catching health concerns early before they can cause severe symptoms or long-term problems. While a runny nose might not seem like a big deal, there are times when it can be a warning sign that something is not right with your dog’s health.

Book an appointment online at any of our Heart + Paw locations if you need to talk with your veterinarian about your dog’s runny nose.  

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About Us

Heart + Paw was founded in 2018 by Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. George Melillo, who currently serves the Mid-Atlantic area. Heart + Paw offers a combination of veterinary care, pet grooming, and dog daycare to help be a resource in your pet parenthood journey.

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