Skip to content

Healthy Dogs

Font Size

Dog Nose Discharge: Common Causes and Treatments

Common Causes and Treatments of Nose Discharge in Dogs continued...

Nostril problems. Some dogs are just more prone to nasal discharge than others, including flat-faced breeds and dogs with soft, floppy nose cartilage. Noisy breathing can be another sign of nostril issues like these.

Surgery is sometimes necessary for dogs with small nostrils, as well as for those with cartilage problems. Surgery is often delayed until the dog is an adult.

Distemper. Distemper can cause a sticky, yellow nose discharge in dogs, and while symptoms may vary, distemper can also cause fever, pneumonia, and twitching and convulsions.

Treatment for distemper depends on the symptoms, and can include anticonvulsants, antibiotics, sedatives, and painkillers. The best treatment for distemper is prevention -- which means getting puppies vaccinated three times between the ages of 8 to 16 weeks -- and vaccinating breeding females several weeks before mating.

Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Nosebleeds can be one sign of this bacterial disease, which is transmitted by infected ticks. Other signs include high fever, lethargy, coughing, inflammation of the eyes, and pain.

Treatment may include several weeks of antibiotics. Use anti-tick products and reduce exposure to ticks to prevent this serious disease.

Cleft palate or fistula. If your dog has nose discharge after it eats, it could be the sign of a cleft palate (when the two sides of your dog's palate don't fuse) or an oral-nasal fistula (a hole between the nose and mouth, sometimes caused by tooth decay, injury, infection, or surgery).

Surgery is the most common treatment for cleft palates and oral-nasal fistulas.

How to Stop a Dog’s Nosebleed

Sneezing from allergies, an infection, a foreign object, polyps, bleeding disorders -- lots of things can cause nosebleeds in dogs. While ultimately you'll need to find out what's behind your dog's nosebleed, in the short term, you'll want to try and stop the bleeding. To do that:

  • Soothe your dog and keep it calm.
  • Cover the nostril that's bleeding with something absorbent.
  • Apply a cold compress to the top of your dog's nose, between the eyes and nostrils.
  • Don't tilt your dog's head back to slow the blood, or put anything inside your dog's nostril.
  • Call your vet right away if bleeding doesn't stop within a few minutes.


Taking Care of Your Dog's Nose

It's long been said that a cool, wet nose is a sign a dog is healthy. Not true: A sick dog's nose can be hot, cold, wet, or dry. Note what your dog's nose looks like when it's healthy and it'll be easier to spot problems when they show up.

To examine your dog's nose, look for any signs of unusual discharge, including blood. Also keep an eye out for excessive dryness, a crusty nose, or one that's paler than normal. Then watch your dog's nose as it breathes. If the nostrils flare more than usual, that could be a sign of breathing problems.

Always talk to your vet about your concerns. Because nose discharge in dogs can be a variety of colors and caused by many things, a quick exam by your vet is often the best way to get at the cause of a dog's nose discharge.

WebMD Veterinary Reference

Reviewed by Amy Flowers, DVM on March 24, 2013

Today on WebMD

bulldog in party hat
Breeds with longevity
Doberman Pinscher Clipped Ears
The facts about ear cropping and tail docking.
dog with duck in mouth
Which are considered smartest?
boxer dog
What are their health issues?
Pit bull looking up
Pets: Is My Dog Normal
Dog scratching behind ear
dog catching frisbee

Love your pets, hate your allergies?

Get tips for relief.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Dog Breed RMQ
Lady owner feeding dog
bulldog in party hat