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Teary Eyes and Runny Nose in Dogs: Can These Be More Than Allergies?

by Vetic Editorial
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During the winters we often notice runny noses and teary eyes in our dogs. It is common across all breeds and ages. 

In most situations, it is no more than a mild inconvenience for the pets and the pet parents. However, in a few cases, it is an indication of a more serious disease or disorder. 

What is a Runny Nose in a Dog?

Any healthy dog has a slightly wet nose. In fact all healthy dogs should have a wet nose unless they have been outside without drinking water for a while or just woken up from a long nap. 

When is Runny Nose in Dogs a Concern?

A severe runny nose in dogs is a serious concern especially if it has been happening for over a couple of months or the discharge is cloudy. 

Sometimes, nasal discharge isn’t a clear and light fluid. If your dog’s nose discharge is thick, has mucous or pus, has a smell or tinges of blood, it’s cause for an emergency check-up. 

Organs of the upper respiratory tract produce this nasal discharge. And the presence of anything other than clear fluid indicates an infection or obstruction. 

Nasal Discharge in Dogs: Signs of Sickness

Runny Nose in Dogs: The signs of Sickness Swelling and puffiness of the eyes Bad breath Missing or broken teeth Redness or discolouration of the gums Laboured or rapid breathing Secretions from the eyes

Nasal in itself may not be that serious, but if you notice one or more of these accompanying signs of sickness in dogs, you must contact the veterinarian near you immediately!

  • Swelling and puffiness of the eyes
  • Bad breath 
  • Missing or broken teeth
  • Redness or discolouration of the gums
  • Laboured or rapid breathing 
  • Secretions from the eyes

What is Watery Eyes in dogs? 

Watery discharge from the eyes or teary eyes is very common in dogs. Some breeds such as those with a flat face and protruding eyes (Pug, Pomeranian, Indian Spitz, Shih Tzu and Lhasa Apso) are particularly predisposed to watery eyes. 

However, chronic teary eyes can cause multiple problems –

  1. Stain the area around the muzzle of the dog.
  2. Create skin infections (fungal or bacterial) due to constant wetness of the fur. 
  3. Cause irritations of the skin that causes the dog to paw and scratch their face.

What Are the Possible Causes of Watery Eyes in Dogs?

Image titled: The possible causes of teary eyes in dogs - Allergies Trauma Eye infections Blockage of the tear ducts Ulcers on the cornea The eyelid rolling inward (entropion) Abnormal growth of eyelashes (distichiasis)

Sometimes, the causes are much more serious. Teary eyes can mean pain or infection of the eyes. It is especially possible if your dog has one eye that’s watery and the other one that’s dry. 

If your dog is pawing at their eyes repeatedly and their eyes look redder and more swollen than usual, you need to take them to a veterinarian immediately. It is a sign of infection and inflammation. 

The other possible causes of teary eyes in dogs include –

  • Allergies 
  • Trauma 
  • Eye infections 
  • Blockage of the tear ducts
  • Ulcers on the cornea
  • The eyelid rolling inward (entropion)
  • Abnormal growth of eyelashes (distichiasis)

Your Dog has a Runny Nose AND Teary Eyes

Let’s see…if your dog has a runny nose with teary eyes, it can indicate something chronic and serious. 

Firstly, you will need to note a few things –

  • How long has your dog been facing these issues?
  • What is the colour and odour of the discharge? 
  • Is your dog facing any vision and breathing problems?
  • Has there been any changes in their appetite, energy level or mood?
  • Are they showing signs of pain and discomfort around their face or any other body part?

What can Cause Runny Nose and Teary Eyes in Dogs?

Runny Nose & Teary Eyes in Dogs: Possible Causes Tick fever, allergies, upper respiratory tract infections (UTIs), exposure to toxins, nasal tumour and cancer, and nasal mites.

Allergies 

Several allergies affect dogs just as they affect us. seasonal allergies in dogs can manifest in the form of sniffles and watery eyes. 

If the discharge from both the nose and eyes is clear This is a possibility that your pet has severe allergies. They may need antiallergics and steroids to stop the swelling and redness of their eyes, and the discharge from their nose and eyes. 

Upper Respiratory Tract Infections (URTIs)

URTIs are very common during the winter months and puppies are particularly at risk of developing symptoms like nasal discharge and eye discharge. Upper respiratory tract infections can be due to multiple reasons. For example –

Viral causes of runny nose and teary eyes in dogs

Some viruses such as Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) and Canine Influenza and Parainfluenza viruses cause symptoms that include nose and eye discharge in dogs along with coughing, sneezing and reverse sneezing. 

CVD and Canine Parainfluenza can be completely prevented by vaccinating your pup at the right time. 

Bacterial of runny nose and teary eyes in dogs

Most common bacterial infection in dogs is Kennel Cough. It  causes similar symptoms. However, you can protect your pup from this infection by getting them vaccinated against kennel cough (KC). 

Fungal of runny nose and teary eyes in dogs

Although rare, some fungi can affect the upper respiratory tract and cause symptoms that include a runny nose and watery eyes. 

Nasal Mites 

Runny nose, noisy breathing and sneezing along with severe itching on the face can indicate nasal mites. They can come from other dogs either directly or indirectly. 

However, it is not sufficient to begin treatment for nasal mites just through physical check-up. Your vet will give tests to confirm the presence of mites inside your dog’s nasal passage.

Tick Fever 

Tick fever in dogs can cause a dog’s platelet count to fall drastically and it can lead to bleeding from their nose. In many cases of tick fevers, dogs also present with swollen and red eyes. 

A combination of such symptoms along with some lethargy and loss of appetite is often an indicator of tick fever. However, your veterinarian will likely give blood tests along with rtPCR to confirm the nature of the pathogen responsible for your dog’s sickness. 

Exposure to Toxins

Some toxins have an anticoagulant effect. That means it simply stops the blood from clotting. Exposure to such toxins including the common rat poison can cause your dog’s nose to bleed. 

In such cases, along with nose bleeding and (possible) swelling of the eyes, your dog will also show other signs including vomiting or dry retching, diarrhoea and fluctuations of body temperature. 

Toxicosis is an emergency and you need to take your dog to the veterinarian immediately!!

Nasal Tumour/Cancer

Nasal cancer (adenocarcinoma) is the most common cause of runny nose and watery eyes in dogs. In the early stages of nasal cancer, no swelling may be visible. However, the discharge from the dog’s nose and eyes may contain mucous, pus and blood. 

If you have reason to suspect that your dog has a mass, polyp or tumour in their nose, you must talk to your veterinarian about imaging tests. Not every tumour is cancerous and early treatment can prevent unwarranted suffering. 

Is Runny Nose and Watery Eyes in Dogs Reason Enough to Visit the Vet?

YES! Especially when they occur together for more than 2-3 days. While it can be simple allergies, they can also indicate the onset of a viral disease or cancer. 

It is best to contact your veterinarian as early as possible when you notice excessive or discoloured discharge from your dog’s nose and eyes. 

What is the Treatment for a Runny Nose and Teary Eyes in Dogs?

Since the cause(s) of a runny nose and teary eyes in dogs can be many, and they can range from mild allergies to cancer, the treatment also varies considerably. 

It is best to not give allergy medicines or pain medication to your dog without consulting a veterinarian. 

Whenever in doubt, reach out to your vet. It is not advisable to treat the runny nose and watery eyes of your dog at home without any veterinary guidance or supervision. 

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