Canis ISSN: 2398-2942

Nasal discharge

Contributor(s): David Godfrey, Yvonne McGrotty, Nicki Reed


  • Cause: nasal discharge is a clinical sign, rather than a disease. As such, it may be associated with numerous causes.
  • Signs: different types of discharge may be present and the discharge may be unilateral or bilateral. Various accompanying signs may depend on the underlying etiology.
  • Diagnosis: this will focus on the investigation of nasal discharge to obtain a diagnosis.
  • Treatment: symptomatic treatment may be given, with more specific treatments available depending on the etiology.
  • Prognosis: will depend on underlying cause.
Follow the diagnostic tree for Nasal discharge in dogs Nasal discharge in dogs.



Predisposing factors


  • Nasopharyngeal stenosis may occur following aspiration of gastric contents into the nasopharynx (eg following general anesthesia or severe vomiting).


  • Nasal discharge may arise for two reasons:
    • Over-production of secretions, eg as a result of stimulation of glands by irritant factors.
    • Obstruction to the normal caudal movement of particulate material and mucus to the nasopharynx for expectoration or swallowing.


  • Acute signs are often associated with foreign bodies, trauma or respiratory tract infections.
  • Inflammatory diseases and neoplasia tend to be more insidious in nature.


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Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Tasker S, Knottenbelt C M, Munro E A, Stonehewer J, Simpson J W & Mackin A J (1999) Aetiology and diagnosis of persistent nasal disease in the dog - a retrospective study of 42 cases. JSAP 40 (10), 473-478 PubMed.
  • Willard M D & Radlinsky M A (1999) Endoscopic examination of the choanae in dogs and cats - 118 cases (1988-1998). JAVMA 215 (9), 1301-1305 PubMed.
  • Clercx C, Wallon J, Gilbert S, Snaps F & Coignoul F (1996) Imprint and brush cytology in the diagnosis of canine intranasal tumours. JSAP 37 (9), 423-427 PubMed.
  • Codner E C, Lurus A G, Miller J B, Gavin P R, Gallina A & Barbee D D (1993) Comparison of computed tomography with radiography as a noninvasive diagnostic technique for chronic nasal disease in dogs. JAVMA 202 (7), 1106-1110 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Van Pelt D R & McKiernan B C (1994)Pathogenesis and treatment of canine rhinitis.Vet Clinic NA24, 789-806.
  • McCarthy T C & McDermaid S L (1990)Rhinoscopy.Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract20, 1265-1290.