As our beloved canine companions reach their golden years, it isn't uncommon for them to develop health issues that haven't been a problem in previous years. If you find yourself wondering 'Why is my dog's nose running?', you're not alone. In this article, our Apple Valley vets discuss why your senior dog's nose may be dripping, and offer solutions to help put your mind at ease.
Why Dogs Have Wet Noses
If your senior dog has a runny nose, it isn't immediately cause for concern. A dog's nose is typically wet around the clock for a few reasons. Your pup has glands within its nostrils that produce mucus in order to prevent dirt from reaching its airways. As dogs lick their nose throughout the day, even more moisture is added to the nose. A dog's nose needs to stay wet because it allows them to pick scents more effectively as molecules are more easily dissolvable in water compared to dry air.
Since your dog's nose will be wet a vast majority of the time, the slightest thing can turn their wet nose into a runny one. Something as simple as their excitement to see you when you get home from work is enough to cause a runny nose.
That being said, there are some factors and underlying health conditions that could cause your dog's nose to drip. It is important to keep an eye on your dog if they have a runny nose. Although nose dripping isn't a big concern if it just lasts a few hours or even a day, constant nose dripping, especially for senior dogs, may call for a trip to the vet.
Why is my dog's nose dripping?
If your senior dog is experiencing a runny nose, it may not be easy for you to pinpoint the exact reason. Below, our Apple Valley veterinary team shares some common reasons for senior dog nose dripping to help you find out the cause and manage your pup's symptoms.
Nose dripping in dogs due to allergies is a result of hypersensitivity to certain allergens in the environment, including foods, prescription drugs, dust mites, mold spores, and pollen. Your dog's immune system reacts excessively to these substances (even if they are harmless), leading to inflammation of the nasal passage and an increase in watery nasal discharge.
Allergies are a very common cause for senior dog nose dripping, but are also tricky because they can also be the cause of your senior dog's dry nose. Although allergies may not seem like they should be hard to manage, it can be difficult to determine the exact allergen causing their runny nose, and subsequently, it isn't always easy to provide the appropriate treatment. If you think your dog has an allergy, intervention by a veterinarian is more than necessary.
Sweat is the most common and least serious cause for a dog with a dripping nose. This occurs because dogs are unable to adjust their body temperature through their skin as humans do. To compensate, dogs will sweat through the pads on their paws and their noses.
If your dog's runny nose is just due to sweating, there is nothing to worry about as this will go away on its own within a couple of hours.
Nasal blockages can significantly impact the overall health and well-being of dogs, and should certainly not be underestimated in older dogs. Left untreated, dogs may experience difficulty breathing, decreased appetite, and lethargy. Nose dripping may also be a symptom of the blockage.
A nasal blockage may develop due to a foreign object being lodged in the nostrils or throat, tumors, infections, dental problems, or allergies. If you believe your dog's runny nose could be due to a nasal blockage, it is crucial to seek veterinary care right away. Your veterinarian can perform tests to determine the underlying cause and make sure your dog gets the appropriate treatment they need.
Respiratory infections can be a common cause of a runny nose and are often a pet owner's first thought. Since a cold is a likely cause of a runny nose in humans, it is easy to assume it is also the cause of your pet's runny nose. Older dogs are also more susceptible to respiratory infections because of their weakened immune system.
The signs and symptoms of a respiratory infection include sneezing, coughing, and nasal discharge. Left untreated, respiratory infections can lead to complications such as pneumonia, so it is important that you seek veterinary care if your dog seems to have a persistently runny nose.
Veterinary Treatment of a Runny Nose in Senior Dogs
When you bring your senior dog to the vet because of a runny nose, diagnostic tests such as blood work, imaging, and nasal swabs may be performed to find the underlying cause of your dog's symptoms. The diagnostic tests your vet will select will depend on the dog's medical history, physical examination results, and initial laboratory results.
Once a diagnosis has been made, your vet can recommend treatment options based on the underlying condition. It is critical that you do not give your dog any medication without the approval of your veterinarian.
Home Care for Senior Dogs With a Dripping Nose
Ensuring your senior dog maintains proper hydration and cleanliness are important aspects of caring for your dog's runny nose at home. You should also keep a close eye on them between veterinary appointments since senior dogs are more likely to develop issues, including those that don't lead to nose dripping.
There isn't much else you can do at home to care for a runny nose, so it is best to err on the side of caution and take your dog to the vet if they have persistent nasal discharge. Our team at Bear Valley Animal Hospital is always happy to help determine the cause of your dog's illness and get them back on their feet!
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. Please make an appointment with your vet for an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition or boarding needs.