Rhinitis in Dogs

Discussion in 'Dog Health and Nutrition' started by FEWill, Oct 5, 2010.

  1. FEWill

    FEWill PetForums Senior

    Sep 2, 2009
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    Rhinitis in dogs is much more than just a runny nose; it is a potentially extremely dangerous condition. It can also cause nose bleeds to occur, ocular discharge, as well as something very sinister in your dog; facial deformity. In fact, this condition can become so serious that if develops into a chronic condition; there is no known cure for it. It can and does affect all breeds at any age, although long nosed breeds and young dogs are slightly more at risk.

    What is it?

    Rhinitis in dogs is also referred to as sinusitis, and because of the second name, it is very often misconstrued by owners as simply being a sinus problem that causes a runny nose. The fact is there could be nothing further from the truth. It is an inflammation of your dogs mucous membrane linings in their nose as well as their sinus, and it comes in two forms; acute and chronic. The acute form will be a very sudden occurrence that will only last for a short period of time. If your dog is lucky, they will only develop this one and done form of this condition.

    However, if they are not lucky, they may develop a chronic form of rhinitis, which can be controlled, but it cannot be cured. Rhinitis in dogs is not extremely common, but it anything but uncommon. It also has another very interesting twist to it; it can be caused by infectious diseases or noninfectious diseases. There is one thing that is common in both types; there is usually a secondary bacterial infection that is one of the major causes.

    For this reason, it is very important to catch it as early as you can to assist your veterinarian in identifying the actual underlying cause. There are several different treatments, but they will vary tremendously depending on the actual cause. This condition can be very mild and quite slow in developing and showing any symptoms, or it can occur very rapidly and be extremely devastating to your dog with very severe symptoms.


    Rhinitis in dogs in both acute and chronic forms, will usually first show its ugly head with your dog starting to sneeze. Sneezing in dogs is not as serious as coughing, but it is a very close second. All dogs will sneeze on occasion, but this will be a series of sneezing events that will very quickly be followed by nasal discharge. This is where the misconception with this condition comes in, as the runny nose is not the final sum of symptoms, but rather just the beginning. If it is mild and acute, it may disappear quickly, and if it does, your dog is very fortunate.

    However, too often this condition goes into the next set of symptoms, which is bleeding from the nose.

    Once this occurs, your dog will naturally start to paw at their nose, which only makes the condition worse. The next sign is usually halitosis, or a very sudden bad breath, that may quickly be followed by ulcerations or depigmentation of their dark colors around the nose. It if develops into the next stages, it can be devastating to your dog, as ocular discharge may occur that is quickly followed by facial deformities.


    There are two potential underlying causes of Rhinitis in dogs, infectious diseases and non-infectious diseases. The first type of an infectious cause will be from viral infections, and the most common are adenovirus, canine distemper, and the para-influenza virus. Fungal infections include aspergillus, blastomycosis, and rhinosporidiosis. It may also be caused by parasitic infections; however, it is believed that in the majority of cases the actual underlying cause is from a bacterial infection.

    The most common bacterial infections include Bordatella or Pasturella. There are also several potential non-infectious diseases or traumas that can set it off. Dental diseases can very easily trigger Rhinitis, as well as a condition referred to as Oronasal fistula. This is best defined as the communication between your dog's nasal area and their mouth that results in a loss of integrity of the bones. It is usually the result of some type of a trauma that occurred in your dog.

    It does not end there, however. Non-infectious diseases or causes may also be the result of a plant material or stones that have become logged in your dog's nasal area, or the result of an allergic reaction or some type of irritant. This would include mold, pollen, or worse yet for your dog, cigarette smoke. Cancer can also trigger it, especially lymphoma and adenocarcinoma tumors or growths. Treatments:

    Rhinitis in dogs has several forms of treatment, but like any disease or condition that is threatening your dog, the underlying cause must first be identified. If there is some type of obstruction that is causing the inflammation, even if it is visible, leave it to your veterinarian to remove. It is very important to understand that this has caused inflammation to occur, and the area affected is in an extremely delicate part of your dog's body.

    However, if you do suspect that your dog has developed Rhinitis, there is one thing that you can and should do until you can have them treated; humidify their environment. Whatever the underlying cause is, keeping their nose and external nares as clean and dry as you can is extremely helpful. In fact, most all veterinarians will recommend this process not only in the initial stages, but long term as well.

    If the underlying cause is termed to be a fungal infection, there are very effective antifungal treatments that are topical or can be placed surgically into your dogs sinuses. If the underlying cause is from an allergic reaction or from an immune related condition, corticosteroids may be used. These are very effective, but there are some owners that want nothing to do with them as they do have several potential side effects


    Rhinitis in dogs may be acute where it is only a temporary issue and will only happen once in your dog. However, if it becomes chronic, there is no known cure for it and therapy will most likely be a lifelong endeavor once it reaches this stage. The most important thing to watch for is sneezing in your dog that is persistent. If your dog does start to sneeze, take it very seriously as they may be in the formative stages of this dangerous condition.
  2. Santino

    Santino PetForums Newbie

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    Dear fellow dog lovers, I’m writing this because I’ve been on this board before in the past out of sheer desperation trying to find answers. I know how gut wrenching the feeling is of watching your beloved dog suffer and not be able to help them. Our dog Santino, a half Pomeranian half Chihuahua had been experiencing horribly severe sinus congestion problems for well over two years.

    He would be so stuffed up at night, making horrible congested sounds. He could barely breathe. We also had several humidifiers because we so strongly believed that it was the dry air which was a large factor in inability to breathe. We had a cool mist humidifier run all night in the bedroom and we had a warm mist vaporizer in the living room which we would hold him over as needed when he experienced his attacks of congestion. My wife Sarah would follow him around where he went with a saline spray mist inhaler to shoot saline mist up his nostrils for just for some temporary relief.

    He would also reverse sneeze a lot and expel countless amounts of green mucus. He’d only seem to get temporarily better after getting the snot out so we would try to get him excited to make him sneeze and then Sarah would chase him around the house with a tissue pulling green snot out of his nose just so the poor thing could breathe. We tried a bunch of homeopathic medicines such as “Only Natural Pet Respiratory Support Herbal Formula” but it only seemed to make him even sicker; liquefying the mucus to the point where it was going down into the lungs instead of coming up and out of the nose, causing a wet cough..

    His mucus would get so bad that he would start to become so sick he would need weekly doses of antibiotics, sometimes up to a month. We went to several vets, and after many examinations, a cat scan, and an endoscopy, we were told that he had some form of “non-specific rhinitis”, which essentially meant they did not know exactly what was wrong with him and was therefore placed into this vague category for which there was no appropriate remedy. This was probably one of the most upsetting and defeating aspects of Santino’s condition, the fact that no one had any answers for us and that there seemed to be no known remedies for such an abstract diagnosis.

    Does this all feel too close to home and sound way too familiar?

    Then one day we had a major breakthrough. We took a trip out of town for a couple of days and stayed in a hotel and for the entire period away Santino experienced no problems, no congestion, no sneezing. On the way back we were on the train and when we sat down on the dusty old seats of the train Santino immediately had a reaction and started one of his congestion attacks. After observing this and conferring with my wife about it, I began to immediately explore the idea that he was experiencing an allergic reaction to dust and the symptoms of allergic rhinitis in dogs.

    Although not extensively documented and not even mentioned by many of the conventional dog rhinitis information resources as a source, sure enough there were a few mentions online of the possibility that a dog could experience an allergic rhinitis reaction just like a human could to dust and in particular dust mites. That’s when it really clicked. I started to read about dust mites and how the dust mite feces, in combination with the vaporized dead bodies of the dust mites, could become inhaled once airborne and cause significant allergic reactions. I also learned about how the all homes in the UK have dust mites and that thousands of people experience allergic problems as the result of dust mites. Considering the exhaustive efforts we had made to try and isolate and identify the problem in order to address it, it was almost inconceivable to us that we hadn’t considered this as a possibility; that a dog might be allergic to mites the same way as a human might be. None of the vets we had previously seen had ever suggested the possibility of it being an allergic reaction. One vet we had seen had even done a test once to establish the presence of mites by putting something up Santino’s nose, after which he said that if there had been any mites present that it would’ve taken care of them. What I didn’t realize at the time was that it was whatever he had administered was merely a test to determine whether mites were actually present inside of his nose; it revealed nothing as to the possibility of whether he might be allergic to them when vaporized and airborne!

    The truth is that we were running ourselves ragged addressing the symptoms all the while completely overlooking the cause. I think we had dismissed the idea of it being an allergy because the possibility of it being an allergy seemed too remote: allergic to what? Pollen? Household dust? We were convinced that he had originally contacted a virus such a Bordatella, which had then morphed into a chronic rhinitis condition as the result of scar tissue in the nasal passages. The notion that it could be an allergy seemed like too abstract of a concept, having no ascertainable way of really honing in on a single source to concentrate on.

    Not only were we running around blind without a cane, but after reading that dust mites actually thrive in humid environments we were horrified to realize that we were actually contributing to his worsening condition by running the humidifiers all night in the bedroom, the place where the majority of the dust mites are usually found and the place where poor Santino experienced the most trouble (within a couple years after purchase a new mattress will typically weigh twice its normal weight due to the amount of dust mites that have inhabited it (YUCK)). The day we returned home I spared no expense (considering the money we had spent on vet examinations it was a drop in the bucket) and ordered a mattress cover, a duvet cover, pillow covers (all specifically allergy tested), a HEPA dust mite and fine particle vacuum with a UV light to kill mites and their eggs, and most importantly an air purifier with a sonic ionizer and UV light to kill all airborne particles. After a few days of pacifying the house and making the necessary environmental changes, Santino’s condition began to drastically improve.

    Today Santino’s life is completely changed. He breathes easily and sleeps peacefully at night. He rarely experiences the same kind of difficulties as he did before and whenever he does start to experience congestion we flip on the air purifier and literally within minutes he is breathing normally again. No more vets, no more scopes, no more antibiotics, no more sprays, no more suffering. We are just beside ourselves with relief to think that we have discovered a cure and a way to restore the quality of life to our little boy that he so deserves. It was breaking our hearts to see him failing the way he was, getting worse and worse and not be able to do anything to help, which is why we felt compelled to share this story with others. I know that for some this may not be the definitive answer, as all cases are different, however, if we can reach just one doggy parent who might not have considered this as a possibility and give them the chance to change that dog’s life forever then by god we were going to try. If your dog suffers from rhinitis-like symptoms and you are starting to feel somewhat hopeless then we beg of you to consider the possibility of Allergic Rhinitis to dust mites, and invest in some anti dust mite mattress, pillow and duvet covers and a quality air purifier with UV light. We wish you all the best of luck and as a last word of advice NEVER EVER GIVE UP and NEVER STOP FIGHTING FOR YOUR DOG, the answer might be right around the corner, YOU JUST NEED TO HOLD ON!!!! Best regards Kris, Sarah, and Santino
    mollypip and Sled dog hotel like this.