What to Give Your Dog for Nasal Congestion

Don’t you have it when your nose is congested? If a stuffy nose makes you so miserable, can you imagine how your dog feels when their nose is congested? You’d be right to worry about how to make your dog better.

So, what can you give your dog for nasal congestion? If your dog has nasal congestion, you should consult with your vet. You can’t give your dog any nasal decongestants because some are toxic. However, you can try some natural home remedies for nasal congestion to relieve your dog’s discomfort.

So, why does your dog have nasal congestion, and how can you treat it at home? Just keep on reading to find the answers.

Why Do Dogs Get Stuffy Nose?

When your dog has nasal congestion, it’s usually a symptom of a disease. As such, you have to pay attention to the nasal discharge if there’s any. It would help your vet narrow down the cause.

Now, let’s see the most common reasons why your dog has got a stuffy nose.

1. Viruses

Similarly to humans, there’s not a single virus that causes cold-like symptoms. Instead, there are several that might make your dog cough and sneeze or have a runny nose and watery eyes.

Unfortunately, some viruses are far more dangerous than a cold. I’m talking about the canine influenza virus, canine parainfluenza virus, kennel cough, and canine distemper. All of these can start with mild symptoms such as a runny nose, coughing, and fever.

Since these diseases are quite serious and contagious, you should bring your dog to the vet if they have a fever, diarrhea, and a cough.

2. Allergies

Another common reason for stuffy nose in dogs is allergies. Your dog might be allergic to many things, including food, pollen, mold, mites, and chemicals. Some dogs are even allergic to human dander.

Usually, clear nasal discharge is likely to be the result of an allergic reaction.

3. Bacterial/Fungal Infections

If your dog has a yellow or smelly nose discharge, they probably have a bacterial or fungal infection. Depending on the type of infection, your dog might need antibiotics or anti-fungal drugs to clear it up.

4. Polyps and Tumors

Do you know that dogs can have nasal polyps and tumors? When these polyps and tumors grow inside the nose, they can cause noisy breathing and make the nose appear bulgy on one side. Blood and pus are also possible signs.

Since tumors can be benign and cancerous, they should be evaluated by your vet. In some cases, your dog will need surgery to fix it and additional treatment if the tumor is cancerous.

5. Foreign Body

Another reason for congested nose in dogs is a blockage. Seeds and blades of grass sometimes get stuck in your dog’s nose.

If only one nostril seems stuffed and your dog is pawing at their nose, you should check if there’s a foreign body. You can try to get it out with tweezers or call your vet.

So, these are the five most common reasons for nasal congestion in dogs. However, sometimes stuffy nose might be a side effect of heart disease, albeit rarely.

How to Tell That My Dog Has a Stuffy Nose?

It’s not always easy to figure out that something is bothering your dog or that they’re in pain. After all, your dog can’t blow their noses or complain that they can’t smell anything. So, you have to look for the little things, such as:

  • Sneezing. While some dogs sneeze as a reaction to something in the air, frequent sneezing is a tell-tale sign of nasal problems or respiratory infections.
  • Swollen nose.
  • Nasal discharge. You should talk to your vet about any colored discharge that smells badly. It usually points to an infection.
  • Strange breathing.
  • Reverse sneezing. When a dog reverse sneezes, they inhale forcefully through their nose, and you can hear a snorkeling sound.
  • Reduced appetite. Since your dog can’t smell their food, they might not eat. 
  • Lethargy or depression.

Usually, you don’t need to take your dog to the vet for mild nasal congestions. As long as your dog appears healthy and doesn’t have a fever, you can wait a few days.

However, if your dog’s symptoms last more than 2-3 days or you notice that they’re holding their head at a strange angle, you should go to the vet.

Should You Use Nasal Decongestants?

Whenever your dog has a stuffy nose, the blood vessels in the nose swell. As a result, the airflow through the nose is reduced, and it’s more difficult for your dog to breathe than usual.

Usually, vets prescribe decongestants that shrink the blood vessels and allow air to flow unobstructed through the nose. They also help the mucus to drain.

However, you have to use decongestants that are safe for dogs. A lof of the human decongestants can be toxic to dogs and do more harm than good. Moreover, the wrong dose of safe medicine can also make matters worse.

Your best option would be to talk to your vet and not to act on your own. Even some safe decongestants might not be suitable for your dog if they have any other health problems. Your vet will tell you what decongestant to use and how often to apply it.

Moreover, whenever you’re using nasal decongestants, you have to watch for side effects. Potential side effects include vomiting, elevated heart rate, and hyperactivity.

How Can You Treat Nasal Congestion in Dogs at Home?

Since you can’t give your dog nasal decongestants without a vet approval, what can you give your dog for nasal congestion? Try these three home remedies instead.

1. Steam

As you well know it, steam works wonders on a stuffy nose because it opens up the airways. It also allows the accumulated mucus to drain.

Try to put your dog in the bathroom and run the hot water. You can also use a warm air vaporizer if your dog doesn’t tolerate the bathroom steam. Afterward, wipe your dog’s nose to clean any nasal discharge.

2. Use a Nasal Aspirator

Nasal aspirators allow you to suck out the accumulated mucus from your dog’s nose. You can use an infant one, but you have to be very gentle and insert only the tip. Always clean the aspirator well after you use it because you can spread the infection/virus around the house.

If you think that your dog won’t stand still for the procedure, you shouldn’t try it. Otherwise, you might hurt your dog accidentally or get bitten.

3. Massage Your Dog’s Nose

When your dog is calm, you can try to massage their nose to make them feel better. The massage will help loosen the mucus so that it can drain.

When you think about it, rubbing the bridge of your nose always helps when you’re congested, right?

4. Use a Humidifier

Raising the moisture in the air can help your dog breathe and relieve some of the discomfort. So, get an air humidifier and see if it makes your dog better.

5. Feed Your Dog Warm Food

Whenever your dog has a stuffy nose, they have trouble smelling their food. That might make them reluctant to eat and slow down the healing process.

As such, offering your pooch warm food serves two purposes. Hot food is more tempting than cold ones and likely to stimulate your dog’s appetite. Moreover, the heat can help unclog your dog’s nasal passages.

Closing Thoughts

Dogs rely a lot on their sense of smell to orientate in our world. As such, they feel the worst when their primary sense isn’t working.

But don’t be quick to use nasal decongestants on your dog. Since some aren’t safe for dogs, you should talk to your vet about what to give your dog for nasal congestion.