A stuffy nose is just as miserable for your dog as it is for you. Taking steps to give your dog congestion relief can make them more comfortable while allowing them to rest and regain strength and health. Your first step should always be to see your veterinarian about your dog's symptoms to get a diagnosis.
Before investigating dog congestion home remedies to deal with the problem, consult your veterinarian about your pup's symptoms. It could be a simple virus causing the congestion, or there may be another underlying health condition that needs attention.
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Symptoms of nasal congestion in dogs
Your dog won't be able to tell you when they're congested. In some cases, it may be pretty apparent, but not always. Signs of a dog's stuffy nose include:
- Swelling of the nose
- Nasal discharge
- Heavy or rapid breathing, difficulty breathing
- Loss of appetite
- Pawing at the muzzle or face
- Reverse sneezing (rapid, short inhalations)
If your dog exhibits any of these symptoms or behaviors, they could be suffering from nasal congestion.
Causes of nasal congestion in dogs
Nasal congestion is when your dog's nasal tissues and sinuses become inflamed, swell, and produce fluid. Your veterinarian may refer to it as rhinitis or sinusitis. As your dog's tissues and blood vessels in their nose swell, it reduces the amount of air that can flow through.
What causes this inflammation? In most cases, it can be tricky to pinpoint. Your doggy friend may be suffering from seasonal allergies, or your pup may be suffering from something stuck in their nose, like a foreign object. Of course, health issues, such as infection or dental problems, can also be to blame.
Common causes of canine nasal congestion include:
- Anatomic or congenital abnormalities
- Dental problems
- Upper respiratory infection or viral infection
- Foreign bodies
- Canine distemper
- Exposure to smoke or other inhaled toxins
If your dog has congestion due to allergies, they'll need to see a veterinarian. Some dogs suffer seasonal allergies and may need treatment to relieve their symptoms. If your pup's allergies are severe, you can wipe down your dog's paws and fur after being outside to reduce any pollen residue if they have environmental allergies. You can also explore options like seeing a veterinary dermatologist for allergy shots to help relieve your dog's symptoms. Dogs with allergies can also be sensitive to indoor air pollutants, so use pet-safe, hypoallergenic cleaning products in your home and for laundry.
Your veterinarian will also need to treat your pup if they suffer from infection, foreign objects in the nose, dental problems, or other causes of congestion. Some of these issues can be life-threatening, so you should consult with your veterinarian at the first signs of a dog's stuffy nose.
Home remedies for a dog with a stuffy nose
While natural remedies like homeopathic decongestant treatments are available for dogs, always check with your veterinarian before giving your pup an herb or supplement. Like prescription medicines, some holistic treatment options can have side effects or interact with your dog's other drugs.
If you plan on trying herbal remedies, consider seeing a holistic veterinarian who can advise you of appropriate dosing based on your dog's health, weight, and age. Some natural products to ask about include elderflower, a flower extract used to treat swollen sinuses, and kali bichromicum, an essential trace element homeopaths use to treat sinus congestion.
In addition to homeopathic medications, there are other at-home methods pet parents can try to ease a dog's sinus congestion and provide them with relief.
Steam treatment for congestion
Steam can help reduce inflammation and open your pup's nasal passages. To try steam treatment, take your dog into the bathroom with you and close the door. Next, run a hot shower. Your dog does not need to be in the shower but the steam from the hot water can help if you sit with them on the bathroom floor. As steam collects in the room, it will help to unclog your pup's nasal passages and relieve congestion. Similarly, a warm humidifier or air vaporizer in a room where your dog lays typically can help open their sinus passages.
After the steam treatment, use a warm, wet cloth to wipe away nasal discharge from your dog's nose. If you notice that the discharge is yellow or green, it could signal bacterial infection, which necessitates a trip to the veterinarian. After wiping your dog's nose, you can use a touch of non-scented petroleum jelly on the outside of your dog's nose to help prevent irritation and soreness.
Chicken soup for dogs
Due to suppressed smell, dogs with congestion may have little desire to eat. If this occurs, offering them highly palatable food can encourage eating. For example, chicken soup is an excellent cold remedy not only for humans but for dogs as well. Your pup will love the taste, and the warm steam rising from the bowl will help open congested airways.
Chicken soup can also provide valuable nutrients and help your dog stay hydrated, which is essential when battling a common cold. Homemade chicken soup is best, but if you choose a low sodium canned variety that doesn't contain onions or garlic.
Prescription medications for dog nasal congestion
If your dog is very stuffy or their congestion worsens, it could be a more complicated issue. In this case, you'll want to make an appointment with a veterinarian. Your veterinarian may prescribe one or more drugs depending on what's causing the congestion. However, they'll carefully determine the correct medication and the accurate dosing.
Can you give a dog over the counter medicine for congestion?
While waiting to see your veterinarian, you might wonder if you can give your dog over-the-counter medications or prescriptions for congestion. Never use any over-the-counter cold or allergy medications designed for human use without checking with your veterinarian first. Decongestants designed for humans, such as Sudafed (pseudoephedrine), can be toxic to your dog.
If your dog suffers from nasal congestion, your first step should be an appointment with your veterinarian. They can determine if what's causing the congestion, whether it be allergies, a viral infection, or an underlying health condition. Your veterinarian may recommend home remedies, such as a steam treatment, to help your pup. Alternatively, your veterinarian may prescribe medications to help your pup recover. Don't offer your dog homeopathic medications or prescription decongestants designed for human use without first consulting the veterinarian. Instead, try to make your dog as comfortable as possible while you call your veterinarian.