Nasal Congestion in Dogs

Numerous health complications that affect humans can similarly affect dogs. However, detecting these symptoms in dogs might not be as straightforward as in humans. Here are seven signs that your dog may be suffering from nasal congestion, to help you understand what symptoms to look out for.

Presence of Mucous

The most apparent sign of nasal congestion in dogs is the presence of mucous stuck in their noses. It can be clear, yellow, or brown. This is caused by inflammation and excess fluid production inside the nasal cavity, which obstructs the free flow of air through the nose leading to sneezing, breathing problems, and a stuffy nose. Sneezing is usually the first sign of nasal congestion your dog exhibits.

Loss of Appetite

Your dog might not want to eat with nasal congestion because it can be painful when they try to eat or drink with their noses blocked up. If no other signs are present, this could be a temporary symptom, but if it lasts for longer than three days, you should bring them to the vet.


Excess fluid production in the nasal cavity can lead to watery eyes or discharge around your dog’s mouth. This reduces their sight and complicates eating, leading to further weight loss. It is easier to spot the discharge from the dog’s corners of their eyes.

Head Tilt

A head tilt is when your dog holds their head at an angle, tilting it to one side. This means there is a problem with one of the ears or the neck muscles controlling movement. Head tilts can also result from nasal congestion, however. If your dog is tilting their head to one side and there are no other symptoms, you should bring them to a vet just in case it is serious.

Excessive Drooling

Drooling is usually caused by nausea, but if your dog drools excessively without any other symptoms, then nasal congestion could be to blame.

Sneezing and Snorting

Snorting and sneezing are other widespread signs of canine nasal obstruction, especially if your dog is trying to snort or sneeze out the mucous stuck in its nose. It would help if you took them to a vet as soon as you noticed this symptom.

Difficulty Breathing

Difficulty breathing and wheezing can be a severe symptom of nasal congestion in dogs, especially if there is also discharge coming from the nose. If it gets to this stage, you should take your dog to the vet as soon as possible!

How can I find out if my dog has nasal congestion?

One way to tell if your dog has nasal congestion is by looking for mucous stuck in their nose. It can be clear, yellow, or brown and caused by inflammation or excess fluid production in the nasal cavity that obstructs the free flow of air through the nose.

If no other symptoms are present, but your dog stops eating, has watery eyes/lacrimation (discharge) around the mouth, head tilts or excessive drooling. They likely have an irritated nose. However, if your dog is tilting their head to one side and breathing heavily with the mucous in their nose, then it’s very likely they have nasal congestion.

Some Home Remedies for Nasal Congestion

There are many home remedies for treating canine nasal congestion, including:

  • Placing a cold compress on your dog’s forehead or placing a bag of frozen vegetables onto your dog’s nose.
  • Putting cotton balls soaked in warm water into the nostrils. The pressure will help to remove the mucous.
  • Blowing hot air on your dog’s face can also increase blood flow to the nasal cavity and help clear the mucous. This is not safe for dogs with heart conditions.
  • Feeding your dog ice cubes before they melt can encourage them to swallow and clear out their nasal cavity. This is not recommended for dogs who will consume the ice cubes whole, as it can cause an upset stomach and has been known to cause intestinal blockages.
  • Over-the-counter medications such as steroids or antihistamines can also help clear nasal congestion. These are best given to your dog with food, as they can cause nausea when ingested alone.
  • To prevent the mucous from accumulating again, you should ensure that your dog stays hydrated and their airways stay clean and free of irritants such as dust, pollen or other airborne pollutants.

Possible Complications

If your dog has nasal congestion but no other accompanying symptoms, then it is unlikely to be an issue. However, if you notice them struggling to breathe with mucous in their nose, you should immediately bring them to a vet. The nasal cavity can swell shut, which will need medical treatment.


Prolonged nasal congestion can stimulate tissues in your dog’s nose to bleed wildly if they snort or sneeze out the mucous. If there are no other symptoms, you should clean up any excess blood with a damp tissue and monitor for any signs of distress. If there are no other symptoms, then this is usually not serious. However, if your dog starts bleeding out of one or both nostrils, then you should take them to the vet as soon as possible.

Vomiting or Diarrhea

If your dog starts vomiting or has watery diarrhoea, then it’s likely to be related to gastrointestinal issues caused by the mucous build-up inside of their nasal cavity. It would help if you took them to a vet ASAP to have their nasal congestion properly treated and any infections/inflammations also attended to.

Lack of Energy/Weakness

Your dog’s lack of energy and weakness can be caused by nasal congestion, which makes breathing through the nose complex. If your dog is breathing heavily and seems exhausted despite not showing any other symptoms, then it’s likely that they struggle to breathe due to nasal congestion.

Can nasal congestion cause my dog to lose weight?

It is not the only reason dogs lose weight; an obstructed nose can lead to weight loss.

When something obstructs their airway leading into the lungs (like mucous or fluid), they cannot take in very much oxygen. They are taking in less air, which takes enzymes and nutrients to produce energy from fuel sources like food. This lack of energy slows down your dog’s metabolism and may cause them to lose weight without any other symptoms present.

The more severe/chronic the obstruction, the quicker your dog will start losing weight since their body does not have enough time to process nutrients before needing more food for fuel. Muscle tissue can be broken down even though there may be enough energy available.

What is the long-term outcome of nasal congestion?

If it’s treated, then usually, there are no complications that arise from chronic nasal congestion. However, if the condition becomes chronic, it can lead to heart conditions such as congestive heart failure or lung conditions such as pneumonia and bronchitis. This is why if your dog has nasal congestion, you should always take them to see your vet right away.

Do all dogs suffer from this condition equally?

No, what type of dog you have can depend on which is more sensitive to different stimuli.

Expect a lot of variation depending on the type of dog – some breeds may be more sensitive to certain irritants since they might live in a more polluted area or spend time outdoors. A dog’s age, health, and environment play a part, not just their breed. The concern is if they are experiencing pain from an oxymoron caused by chronic nasal congestion – otherwise, it’s typically only temporary.

Suppose your dog spends most of its time indoors with clean air and few health problems. In that case, there barely should be any issue, even if the animal has sinus issues related to allergies or anatomical abnormalities that cause difficulty breathing through the nose.

Should I bring my dog to a vet if they have nasal congestion for less than three days?

If your dog is suffering from nasal congestion, a vet should see them as soon as possible. Left untreated, it can lead to more severe conditions such as pneumonia or heat stroke. It’s important to note that not all dogs with nasal congestion will suffer from all of these symptoms, but some of them will. Respiratory issues, and eye discharge often accompany nasal obstruction or head tilts.


If you notice your dog is suffering from nasal congestion, it’s essential to take them straight to a vet. In some cases, this can be accompanied by other symptoms such as respiratory issues, eye discharge, and head tilts, indicating more severe conditions like pneumonia or bronchitis.

It’s not always easy for humans to spot the signs of illness in dogs (especially if they’re indoors with clean air), but the seven signs we’ve outlined above should help you know what you need to look out for. If your pup has any of these symptoms, make sure they see a doctor immediately.

Only use the information in this article to help understand canine nasal congestion, not diagnose it. If you have any concerns about your pet, please consult a veterinarian.

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