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Dog Sinus Infection

Your dog can have a nasal discharge just from getting excited about going for a walk. However, that discharge could be a sign of something much more serious. Your dog may have a sinus infection, and if left untreated may progress and will be harder to treat. Knowing the difference in the multiple conditions associated with a runny nose, sneezing, and coughing will help you get the proper care for your dog.

Symptoms and Types

Rhinitis and sinusitis can affect your dog’s ability to breath. Rhinitis is inflammation of your dog’s nose, and sinusitis is inflammation of the dog’s nasal passages. Both conditions will cause excess mucus discharge and left untreated can lead to a bacterial infection. Symptoms that appear include

  • Sneezing
  • Stuffy nose
  • Gasping air to clear the nose of mucus
  • Nasal discharge
  • Abnormal facial expressions (distress)
  • Loss of appetite

Symptoms of a sinus infection may include

Your dog’s symptoms could be an indication of an upper respiratory infection or cold which are both less problematic to treat. You should take your dog to the vet if any of these symptoms last more than two days. Take your dog to the vet immediately if he has nose bleeding. Nose bleeding can occur with a sinus infection, but in many cases a more serious issue is present.


Most sinus infections are caused by something in your dog’s environment such as

  • Microbial Infection (fungus, virus, or bacterial)
  • Insect bites
  • Air pollution
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Chemical fumes
  • Foreign objects entering the nasal cavity

Less common causes include an infection or decay of an upper tooth or a tumor. Dental issues and tumors tend to affect older dogs, while microbial infections seem to affect younger dogs. Cancer and fungal infections usually affect dogs with long noses. A weak immune system or asthma can appear in dogs of all ages and can lead to sinus issues.

Diagnosing a sinus infection

You will need to take your dog to the veterinarian to properly diagnose your dog’s illness. The vet will perform a physical exam and check your dog’s teeth. If further testing is required, X-rays and blood work will be taken.


Antibiotics are the most common treatment for a sinus infection. An anti-fungal medication may be prescribed if your dog has a fungal infection. If your dog’s infection is viral related, the infection should clear up in a few days without the use of medication. A tooth infection can be treated by cleaning the affected area or removing the tooth causing the issue. Radiation therapy is needed to treat tumors if they cannot be surgically removed. Your vet may prescribe anti-cancer medications to prevent the tumor from expanding into the brain.

During treatment, you need to keep your dog inside where he will be warm and dry. A vaporizer can be used near your dog’s sleeping area to improve breathing. To avoid dehydration, offer fresh, clean water. You can offer warm chicken broth as a comforting treat. Management of a sinus infect will greatly depend on the type and the extent of infection.

Can Dimetapp or Prednisone be used to treat a sinus infection?

Your vet may prefer that you avoid using over-the-counter cold and sinus medications that contain Naprosyn or acetaminophen which are harmful to your dog.

Dimetapp contains Phenylephrine which can cause

  • Vomiting
  • Hyperactivity
  • Seizures
  • Excessive salivating
  • Hypertension
  • Cardiac Arrhythmia

Prednisone is a steroid that can weaken your dog’s immune system, causing an upper respiratory infection.

Natural and holistic treatments

Many people prefer treating their dogs with natural remedies rather than pharmaceutical drugs. There are a variety of treatment options that provide good results.

Steam Baths are very effective in treating a sinus infection. When using a steam bath, you do not put your dog in the bathtub. Begin by turning the hot water on (shower head or tub faucet.) You will need to close the bathroom door to keep in the steam. Once the room begins to fill with steam, let your dog stay in the room for 5 – 20 minutes. Stay in the room with your dog to avoid him getting burnt by the running water and watch for reaction to the steam and heat.

Tea infusions offer the effect as a steam bath. The steam from the tea is inhaled by the dog which helps stimulate the sinuses and causes drainage. Tea with a strong aroma such as ginger or cinnamon seem to work, but any tea will be effective.

Cleaning your dog’s nose will improve breathing and discomfort. When cleaning your dog’s nose, be careful not to cause injury. Gentle swabbing the nostrils with a cotton ball dampened with warm water should help open the nasal passages. Once the area has been cleaned and dried, you can gently rub petroleum jelly or moisturizing cream to prevent chafing.

Offering warm liquids will help open the sinuses and ease pressure to the sinus cavity. Chicken broth and tea are very beneficial, and most dogs willingly drink both options. Warming your dog’s food is another great way of stimulating his sinuses to drain. Be careful not to get the food hot and burn your dog’s mouth.

Using supplements

Supplements can be given to strengthen your dog’s immune system and improve symptoms. Supplements have been credited for reducing the recovery time and preventing recurring infections.

Pulsatilla (30C) Reduces the amount of yellow or green discharge and nighttime sneezing or coughing.

Kali.bich (30C) Reduces mucus and congestion.

Thyme helps reduce headaches, muscle spasms, and chronic coughing associated with sinus infection.

Nat.Mur (d6) Reduces symptoms of sinus infection such as a runny nose, sneezing and hay fever.

Licorice works as an antiviral, anti-allergic, and anti-inflammatory herb. Inflammation is reduced when licorice stimulates cortisol (anti-inflammatory hormone.)

Recovery from a sinus infection

If your dog has been diagnosed with a sinus infection, and not a more serious issue such as cancer; recovery should be relatively quick. Prescription medications and treatments will speed recovery which is usually 1 – 2 weeks. Recovery will take longer if the infection is left untreated. Use only medications referred by your vet.

Can foxtail cause a sinus infection?

Foxtail has very similar symptoms as a sinus infection, but can be much worse. If not found in time, foxtail can be fatal. The needles on the foxtail grass can enter any area on your dog. The needles always move inward; never outward. Your vet will check your dog for signs of foxtail invasion if a sinus infection is not detected.

Most people consider their dog a part of the family. When your dog shows signs of illness, you probably take them to the vet as you would one of your children. As with sinus infections in humans, your dog experiences similar symptoms and will require medical attention. When you have questions about your dog’s health, but cannot reach your vet, you can always ask a qualified Expert.

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