When dogs present with a runny nose, there are several possible underlying causes. Especially in the winter, the incidence of mild upper respiratory viral and/or bacterial infections is increased. A clear and thin nasal discharge is usually not something to be considered with; however, if the discharge becomes thick, yellow/green or bloody, it may be time to have the dog evaluated by a veterinarian, especially if the runny nose is accompanied by excessive sneezing, coughing or difficulty breathing. Antibiotics are often prescribed in these circumstances.
As in people, a runny nose in our pets may also be a sign of allergies to airborne allergens, including house dust, molds, dander, grasses, trees and pollens. In these circumstances, simple antihistamines such as Benadryl or chlorpheniramine may help with symptomatic relief. However, before using any over the counter medication, it is important to consult with a veterinarian.
Finally, from a holistic perspective, a clear, runny nose may simply indicate a dog’s immune system discharging toxins to the outside. As long as the pet is active, eating and energetic, then it may be best to simply allow it to run its course, as in many situations, the runny nose will resolve on its own. If an animal guardian is ever in doubt, a veterinary evaluation is always recommended.