Any nasal discharge should not be considered as a disease in itself. It is a symptom of a disease. The type of fluid that comes out of the nostrils may indicate how long the problem has been going on or where the problem is located and even what the problem is.
It is important that you distinguish between a ‘runny nose’ where the discharge is clear and watery, and a condition where the fluid emanating from the nostril(s) is thick and yellow, greenish yellow or if it is blood-tinged.
One should also ascertain whether the nostrils are being clogged up by the discharge. Furthermore, it is important to define whether the discharge persists for hours and if it is accompanied by sneezing and/or coughing/wheezing.
Some discharges are very temporary. This condition is often found in ‘hyper’ dogs which are easily excited. This type of ‘nervousness’ produces a clear, watery secretion which accumulates at the tip of the nose. Once the animal cools down, the discharge disappears – only to reappear as a new bout of increased activity begins.
Do not be bothered too much by such a discharge. In fact, you should be more perturbed by the uncontrollable excitability of the dog. Dealing with odd behavioural patterns of our pets would be a subject that merits extensive consideration at some future date.
A persistent discharge would reflect a constant irritation of the mucous membrane lining of the nasal cavity. You have to try to get to the bottom of the problem, even before you visit your vet. This means that you have to take particular note of the development of the ailment. When did the discharge first begin? How long has the problem been going on? When did the colour of the discharge become noticeable? Was there any bloody tinge in the secretion? Was explosive sneezing and/or wheezing accompanying the discharge? Was the animal recently exposed to something different (bath with a chemical, change of diet, change of environment, introduction of a medication, etc)?
These are all important points to help your vet determine whether we are dealing with an allergy, a foreign body stick in the nasal cavity, a poisoning, a viral/bacterial infection, a polyp/tumour, etc.
Lastly, I hear so often clients explaining to me that the pet has a “cold.” I take such information seriously, even though it might not be technically correct. Dogs/cats and pets in general do not catch a ‘cold’ as we humans do. But, the pet’s owner is usually trying to convey an idea, a situation. Consequently, we must take the report seriously.
In fact, we vets ourselves often use the layman’s incorrect terminology in describing a disease. For example, we speak of ‘feline influenza’ instead of (more correctly) feline respiratory disease complex, which would include feline rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, a bacterial pneumonitis or a mycoplasma infection.
Of course, the vet would like the client to be more descriptive. Vets love clients who make notes relative to the development of an ailment, and who describe extensively and accurately symptoms associated with a developing ailment.
The important consideration is that whenever you see a profuse and continuous nasal discharge, especially when it is linked with coughing/sneezing and/or an accumulation of mucus in the corner of the eyes, treat the matter as serious. Begin taking the pet’s temperature and start making notes.
Please implement disease preventative measures (vaccinations, routine dewormings, monthly anti-heartworm medication, etc) and adopt-a-pet from the GSPCA’s Animal Clinic and Shelter at Robb Street and Orange Walk, if you have the wherewithal to care well for the animals. Do not stray your unwanted pets, take them to the GSPCA’s Clinic and Shelter instead. If you see anyone being cruel to an animal, or if you need any technical information, please get in touch with the Clinic and Shelter by calling 226-4237.