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Nose and Sinus Inflammation in Dogs


Rhinitis and Sinusitis in Dogs


Rhinitis refers to the inflammation of an animal's nose; sinusitis, meanwhile, refers to the inflammation of the nasal passages. Both medical conditions can cause a mucus discharge to develop. With prolonged inflammation, bacterial infections are common.


Older dogs will often experience the growth and presence of abnormal tissue (neoplasia), or dental disease, resulting in inflammation.


Rhinitis and sinusitis may occur in both dogs and cats. If you would like to learn more about how these disorders affects dogs, please visit this page in the PetMD health library.


Symptoms and Types


There are a variety of symptoms which can be seen in dogs affected by rhinitis and sinusitis, including:


  • Sneezing
  • Facial deformity
  • Loss of appetite (anorexia)
  • Nasal discharge (i.e., mucus)
  • Decreased air flow (stuffy nose) in one or both nasal passages
  • Reverse sneezing (when the animal takes in a gasp of air to pull discharge in the back of their nasal passages down into their throats)




Some of the more common factors which can lead to rhinitis and sinusitis include:


  • Parasites
  • Fungal disease
  • Tooth root abscess
  • Viral or bacterial infections
  • Neoplasia (abnormal tissue growth)
  • Congenital abnormalities (e.g., cleft palate)
  • Presence of a foreign object within the nose
  • Nasal polyps (nonmalignant tissue growth or tumor in nose)




Upon initial examination, it is likely that the veterinarian will look for signs of tooth root abscess and ulcers. He or she will examine the cat's oral tissue and gums for any abnormalities, and will want to rule out alternate causes of the inflammation such as hypertension or lower airway disease. 


A dental exam, blood work, imaging and a physical examination will be performed to determine what the underlying cause of the inflammation is, and to create a proper course of treatment.



Nasal discharge that occurs in both nasal passages is often associated with viral or bacterial inflammation. When the discharge is only present in one nasal passage, it can suggest a fungal infection, neoplasia (the presence of abnormal cells), a tooth root abscess, or that there is a foreign object present in the nose.




The use of a humidifier can sometimes loosen nasal mucus, making it easier to drain. Chronic inflammation is rarely curable but it can be treated on an ongoing basis.


If there is a bacterial infection present, antibiotics are the first course of action. Otherwise, medication will be prescribed to treat the underlying cause for the inflammation.


Living and Management


Ongoing maintenance will be dependent upon the underlying medical condition.


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