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Rhinitis and Sinusitis in Dogs

By: Dr. Bari Spielman

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Rhinitis or sinusitis is an inflammation of the mucosa (lining) of the nasal cavity or sinuses. There are many causes of rhinitis that affect dogs of all breeds and ages. Young dogs are more prone to the infectious causes and older dogs tend to develop tumor or dental disease related rhinitis. Long nosed dogs seem to be more prone to the fungal and cancerous causes of rhinitis.

General Causes

  • Viral
  • Fungal
  • Bacteria
  • Parasites
  • Facial trauma
  • Foreign body
  • Allergic/irritant
  • Immune mediated (lymphocytic plasmacytic)
  • Dental disease
  • Oronasal fistula (communication between the mouth and nose)
  • Nasal/nasopharyngeal polyp
  • Cancer

    What to Watch For

  • Sneezing
  • Nasal discharge
  • Bleeding from the nose
  • Pawing at the nose
  • Loss of appetite
  • Ocular discharge
  • Facial deformity
  • Ulceration or depigmentation (losing the dark color) around the nostrils
  • Halitosis (bad breath)


    Baseline tests, to include a complete blood count, biochemical profile and urinalysis should be performed on any ill animal. Additional tests may include:

  • Fungal serology (blood tests)
  • Skull, nasal, dental and chest radiographs (X-rays)
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Coagulation (clotting) profiles
  • Bacterial nasal cultures
  • Cytology
  • Rhinoscopy and biopsy
  • Rhinotomy (surgical exploration of the nose) and biopsy


  • Removal or treatment of the underlying cause if one is found
  • Humidification of the environment
  • Keeping the external nares clean and dry
  • Antibiotics, antifungal therapy or parasiticides
  • Antiinflammatory therapy
  • Surgery

    Home Care and Prevention

    Administer all medication as directed by your veterinarian. Return for follow up examinations and evaluations as directed.

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