Puppy got the sniffles? ‘snot funny, is it? If your puppy has a runny nose, it can be a bit of a worry, but you’ve come to the right place. Zigzag is here to give you the lowdown on all things to do with your puppy’s leaky nose.

In this article, we’ll be talking about what exactly a puppy’s runny nose is, why it happens, and what you can do to help your puppy’s runny nose. 

If you’re looking for more advice, tips and tricks on puppy care, day to day routines, training and behaviour, download the Zigzag puppy training app. We have a personalised training programme waiting for you, as well as a team of fully qualified trainers and behaviourists available at the push of a button 7 days a week via Whatsapp, email or a phone call. Download a trial today and get started on your puppy’s training journey – without any snot in your way.

small puppy with black nose looking at camera
Photo by T.R Photography on Unsplash

What is a puppy runny nose?

First, let us ask you a question. Does your puppy have a runny nose, or do they just have a wet nose? It’s a good thing to know that puppys’ noses should generally be wet. However, they may dry out in certain circumstances (our article on puppy dry nose will tell you more about that). Puppies have a wet nose as it helps lubricate it, allowing their olfactory system (fancy term for the system that allows them to smell) to work properly. That way, they are able to pick up all the smells in their environment and collect information about it. 

But a puppy with a normal wet nose and a puppy with a runny nose are two different things. A puppy with a runny nose means an increase in discharge from the nostrils. Depending on what’s causing them to have a runny nose, this discharge can be clear, but also green or red. Yuck ducky. 

You might see other problems associated with a runny nose in your puppy, like panting or breathing fast, shaking, increasing body temperature or coughing

puppy looking up at camera and showing their nose
Photo by Ryan Yeaman on Unsplash

Why does a puppy runny nose happen?

There can be a few reasons your puppy has a runny nose. Some are relatively harmless, and some are more troublesome problems that only medication can get rid of. .

Allergies, such as hayfever, can cause puppy runny nose

As for humans, pollen is a common allergen in dogs and can often cause an allergic reaction such as a runny nose or sneezing. Other inhalant allergies can come from environmental irritants such as smoke, cleaning products, dust or other seasonal reasons. 

As you may well know, us humans like strong-smelling air fresheners or plug-ins in our homes to cover our own smelly farts. But a dog’s sense of smell is so sensitive that the fragrance can overwhelm them and lead them to have a runny nose. 

Irritants or foreign bodies can cause puppy runny nose

If your puppy has a runny nose, check that there’s nothing stuck up there! Grass seeds can get everywhere and frequently end up in a puppy’s nose. Other foreign objects as harmless as a blade of grass can also block a nostril and cause a runny nose, so a runny nose can be a good sign to get you to check them out. 

Temperature regulation

If it’s a really hot day, your puppy’s body temperature will probably have risen which can often cause a runny nose. This kind of runny nose happens because your puppy will be trying to cool themselves down. Puppies don’t sweat the same way humans do, so they rely on water evaporating from their tongue and nose as one of their ways to cool down.  

Always have plenty of fresh drinking water available to your puppy! Even if you don’t feel like it’s ‘that’ hot, they’ll appreciate a nice clean water bowl. 

Kennel Cough or canine influenza can cause runny nose in puppies

Kennel cough and Canine Influenza are common diseases in dogs. If your puppy has a runny nose and is paired by sneezing or a hacking cough that sounds like they’re an 80 year-old smoker (or like they have something stuck in their throat) then it could well be one of these two illnesses. Better call your vet if you run into this kind of trouble.

Fungal infections can cause a puppy runny nose

Fungal rhinitis or Aspergillosis is a fungal infection of the nose and can also be why your puppy’s got some snot down their nose. Other symptoms include blood or pus-like discharge from the nose – sorry for the visuals – as well as sneezing, swelling of the nose and a loss of pigment in the skin of the nose. Puppies or dogs who live outside or as farm dogs, or who come into close contact with lots of hay or dust are most at risk from it, as they breathe the spores in. If you live in the city, you shouldn’t be too worried about this.

small puppy lying in owner's arms
Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

How to help if your puppy has a runny nose

There are several things you can do that don’t involve a tissue and asking them to ‘blow’. Here are some ways to help if your puppy has a runny nose:

  • Remove strong fragrances from your home such as air fresheners and plug-ins, and stop using fabric softeners on any of your puppy’s bedding. These products may work for you, but can be an awful trigger for allergic reactions on your puppy that raise the likelihood of the puppy getting a runny nose. 
  • If your puppy has a thin watery discharge caused by allergies, it is often harmless. When in doubt, your vet can consult you on things you can try to help your dog like giving them antihistamines. You can also try an air purifier to remove allergens from the air. 
  • If your puppy has a runny nose due to having something stuck up there, you definitely want to contact your vet to remove it. Don’t try removing it yourself! We’ve heard you don’t have the most surgeon-steady hands. Leaving it there is also not an option since it can cause a serious infection, and whatever is buried in there can get further embedded in the skin.
  • A runny nose caused by Kennel Cough or Canine Influenza can be helped with steam. Might sound weird, but you can have your puppy hang out in the bathroom while you shower. Talk about a more bonding activity than that.  
  • If it looks like a fungal infection is causing your puppy’s runny nose, your vet will probably prescribe them antifungal medication.

Overall, the key message is that if your puppy has a runny nose, it means that their body is trying to fight off an infection. This also means that your puppy may be experiencing discomfort or even pain, so it’s always a good idea to have them checked by the vet. We know your puppy is happy and healthy.

Good for you, you’ve made it to the end. We hope you feel like you know what you’re doing next time your pup sheds a few drops of snot! While you’re here, you might want to check out our other articles like ‘why is my puppy shaking’ or ‘what to do when your puppy has watery eyes’. We also have other fun articles like how to make homemade puppy food and treats – we’re not that boring.

Don’t mean to brag, but the Zigzag puppy training app is simply THE place to get all the information on puppy training you’ve been looking for all this time. Download a trial today and get started on having the best-trained puppy in town. We know you’re dying to impress your fellow puppy owners at the park. We also know that life with a brand new puppy isn’t easy and can feel a bit lonely at times. And frustrating. And lost. That’s why our dedicated team of puppy coaches in the app are ready to talk you through the highs and lows of your journey…even wipe your tears away. Or snot.