Vet Blog

My Dog Has a Runny Nose – Is He Sick?

March 04, 2021

Are you worried that your dog might be sick because he has a runny nose?

Runny noses are not uncommon in dogs, but it can be tricky to get to the bottom of the issue and figure out what's causing your dog's nose to run.

In the article below, you'll find information about some of the most common causes of a runny nose in dogs. You can use this information to figure out when your dog's runny nose may be nothing to worry about and when it may mean she needs to see a vet instead.

Mild Causes of a Dog's Runny Nose

Here are some possible mild causes of your dog's runny nose.


Allergies are the most common cause of runny noses in dogs. This problem usually causes clear discharge to run from the nose and may sometimes cause sneezing, coughing, and wheezing as well. Allergies may cause fevers, but this is not very common.

A dog who has frequent allergies may need to be put on allergy medication by the veterinarian to help manage these flare-ups. Dogs with allergies might also need to be given steroids when dealing with very serious flare-ups, such as those that occur during high pollen times of the year.

Flat Face

A dog with a flat face is more likely to suffer from a runny nose than a dog with a longer snout. These dogs may also have noisy breathing and may snore a lot along with their runny nose symptoms.

Dogs who have flat faces may simply live with a runny nose most of the time. However, some dogs may have such severely flat faces that they require surgery to correct the problem.

Moderate Causes for a Dog's Nose to Run

Below are moderate causes of your pet's runny nose.

Respiratory Infection

Respiratory infections are common causes of runny noses in dogs. Dogs who have respiratory infections may have yellow discharge from the nose, or the discharge may remain clear in more mild cases. These dogs may also have other symptoms, such as fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, sneezing, and more.


Sometimes, dogs may suffer from blockages of the nasal passages. Your dog may inhale a foreign object such as a leaf or pebble or may be unfortunate enough to have an insect fly up her nose. In these instances, the blockage may cause your dog's nose to run.

If you can clearly see the object in your dog's nose and feel comfortable doing so, you can remove it carefully with tweezers. Otherwise, however, take her to the veterinarian, as she may need medical intervention to remove the object.


If your dog suffers from some type of trauma or injury to her nose or face, this may also cause her nose to run. You should be able to tell if your dog has been injured on or around her nose. She will need to see a vet if this occurs.

Severe Causes for a Dog's Runny Nose

Be sure to talk with your veterinarian if your dog is showing any of these symptoms.


If your dog's nose is running yellow or green sticky discharge, she may have distemper, which can be a fatal disease. This condition is serious and requires antibiotics and other medication to treat. There is a vaccination for distemper that can be given as early as 8 weeks of age to prevent this illness.

Tickborne Illnesses

Tickborne illnesses such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever can cause dogs to have runny noses. This illness also causes a severe nosebleed as one of its symptoms. If your dog has this disease, she may have a very high fever and be in a lot of pain, and her eyes may be red and inflamed as well.

Dogs who have or are suspected of having tickborne illnesses need to see a vet right away. Your dog may need to have many rounds of antibiotics to clear up this condition.

Dental Disease

Dental disease can cause a runny nose in some instances. When the dental disease reaches a severe point, such as extreme gum disease or tooth decay, it can cause so much pain in the mouth that it travels to the nose and causes the nose to start running.

You can usually tell whether your dog has severe dental disease by looking at her mouth and gums. Keeping up with brushing her teeth and having her mouth checked by the vet can cut down on this risk.

In Conclusion

With the help of this guide, you can more easily understand when your dog's runny nose may be serious and when it is caused by something simple. Remember, however, that only your vet can diagnose your dog properly and let you know what's going on with your pet's health, too.

If your dog's runny nose comes and goes and only ever runs clear, there's probably no reason to take her to the vet. Otherwise, however, the vet is the best option when dealing with a runny nose in your dog.