Rhinitis is an inflammation of the mucous membranes lining the inside of the nose. The condition is often referred to as a commonplace cold and may either be acute or chronic.
The acute variety is characterized by sneezing and thin, watery discharge from the nostrils. Swelling of the mucous membranes can impair breathing and also affect the animal’s sense of smell, which results in a weak appetite. In many cases, the condition is worsened by super-infections, which make the discharge turn mucusy and pusy. A typical symptom of this is when nostrils become crusted, which may impair breathing. Dogs normally breathe through their nose and only breathe through their mouth when necessary, and or it is impossible to breathe though their nose. Sneezing persists concurrently. An affected dog often tries to clear his nose by scratching or rubbing it, which may lead to bleeding. Repeated scratching of the nose can cause skin complaints and bleeding in this area. If the rhinitis fails to heal, it can become a chronic condition. Nasal rhinitis is considered chronic if symptoms persist for at least two months. In chronic cases, nasal discharge is usually pusy. Affected dogs often have seriously impaired breathing and may show the previously mentioned a lack of appetite. The condition often appears in along with an inflammation of the sinuses or the lower airways. In this case fever, impaired overall health and pain also occur.
Rhinitis may be triggered by various causes. The most common cause is a viral or bacterial infection. Damp weather, drafts, and dusty or dry air can be predisposing factors for the infiltration of an infectious agent. Tumors, parasites or tooth abscesses can also produce symptoms of chronic rhinitis.
If a bacterial infection is causing rhinitis, the administration of a suitable antibiotic is usually effective in curing the condition. Viral rhinitis is often self-limiting and may regress spontaneously after a number of days. If disturbing environmental factors, i.e. exposure to damp and cold weather are present, healing may be impaired and the condition can assume a chronic character. If an underlying cause of the condition is present, it will have to be treated accordingly. If there is a tooth abscess, it is usually lanced and drained. And, if nasal tumors are causing the rhinitis, surgery may be required in order to remove them, sometimes with or without chemotherapy.
If your dog is showing one or more of the symptoms mentioned above, contact your veterinarian and arrange for an appointment within the next couple of days. Dogs with rhinitis should not be kept in dusty environments.