Rhinitis is inflammation of the nasal mucous membranes. It often accompanies sinusitis, which is inflammation of the sinuses, and produces coldlike symptoms. Depending on the cause, what appears to be a simple runny nose can be a more serious condition. If you suspect rhinitis, consult a veterinarian immediately, especially in puppies who have not had all of their vaccinations.
Causes and Symptoms
Causes of rhinitis include viruses, bacteria, fungi, allergies, trauma to the nose, objects in the nose and tumors in the nasal passageway. In puppies, the most common cause of rhinitis is viral or secondary bacterial infection. Basic symptoms of rhinitis include nasal discharge, sneezing, snoring and difficulty breathing or breathing through the mouth. You may also notice your puppy pawing at his face or nose. Conjunctivitis, inflammation of the eye membranes, often accompanies rhinitis. Nasal discharge is typically clear with viral infections but can become green or yellow with secondary bacterial infections. Additional symptoms depend on the cause of the rhinitis.
Canine distemper is a viral infection similar to the measles virus that affects humans. Distemper virus is highly contagious and has no cure; however, a distemper vaccination is part of a typical puppy vaccination series. Unvaccinated puppies, and to some extent those who have not yet received a full series of vaccinations, are more susceptible to the virus. Infection spreads through direct contact with other infected animals or things such as bedding and water or food bowls. Canine distemper initially attacks the tonsils and lymph nodes before moving to the respiratory, urogenital, gastrointestinal and nervous systems. In addition to causing symptoms of rhinitis, canine distemper causes other symptoms including high fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures and paralysis.
Canine Adenovirus 2 and Parainfluenza
Canine adenovirus type 2 or CAV-2, and canine parainfluenza virus or CRIV, as well as canine distemper, are viral causes of infectious canine tracheobronchitis. Tracheobronchitis, also known as kennel cough, causes inflammation of the trachea and respiratory airways. Signs of these infections include coughing, low-grade fevers, rhinitis, lethargy and loss of appetite. Puppy vaccinations offer protection against both of these viral agents. Puppies that have yet to receive vaccinations are at a greater risk, especially if exposed to other sick dogs, as these are highly contagious.
Bacterial Infectious Canine Tracheobronchitis
In addition to viral causes, bacterial infection with the Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria causes tracheobronchitis. In addition to rhinitis, other symptoms include coughing, hacking, sneezing, fever, lethargy and pneumonia, especially in puppies with developing immune systems. A vaccine is available though not always part of regular vaccine requirements. If your puppy will encounter other dogs, such as in a kennel or dog park, regular bordetella vaccines are recommended. Because a puppy’s immune system is still developing, an infection with bordetella can be fatal. Puppies as young as 3 weeks of age can receive the nasal vaccine.
By Deborah Lundin
The Merck Manual for Pet Health: Rhinitis and Sinusitis in Dogs
WebMD: Rhinitis and Sinusitis in Dogs
PetMD: Distemper in Dogs
Merck Animal Health: Canine Parainfluenza
Merck Animal Health: Canine Adenovirus Type 2
The Merck Veterinary Manual: Tracheobronchitis in Small Animals
Mar Vista Animal Medical Center: Kennel Cough
Merck Animal Health: Bordetella Bronchiseptica
About the Author
Deborah Lundin is a professional writer with more than 20 years of experience in the medical field and as a small business owner. She studied medical science and sociology at Northern Illinois University. Her passions and interests include fitness, health, healthy eating, children and pets.