What is Rhinitis in Dogs and Cats?

Rhinitis, also a human condition, is an inflammation or infection of either the nasal passages or the nasal sinuses. Diseases in this area can be part of a more generalized upper respiratory illness, but may also exist independently in both pets and people.

When your dog or cat gets develops rhinitis, it’s important to understand the possible causes, how to treat it and how to prevent it from happening.

Causes of Rhinitis in Dogs and Cats

Rhinitis could have several causes, including:

  • Viruses
  • Allergies
  • Bacteria
  • Fungal Infections
  • Cancer
  • Foreign bodies
  • Traumatic Injuries

The severity of rhinitis in dogs and cats can range, from very mild – a clear nasal discharge and occasional sneezing – to severe – a debilitating respiratory disease that may be life threatening.

What Are Signs of Rhinitis?

Early detection can help in the treatment stage of Rhinitis. Here are some things to watch out for:

  • A greenish-yellow, or bloody nasal discharge
  • Excessive sneezing
  • An inability to smell or locate food
  • Facial swelling or pain
  • Rubbing or pawing at the face
  • A swelling, redness or discomfort in the eyes

Occasionally, the disease may also spread to the lungs, becoming very dangerous, so, if you suspect your pet may be suffering from Rhinitis, contact your local veterinarian immediately.

How Is Rhinitis Diagnosed and Treated?

Diagnosis is usually based on signs of the illness, age, and environment of the pet, as well as laboratory tests, blood work, and occasionally x-rays.

Treatment varies widely based on cause. Antibiotics, anti-histamines, steroids, or anti-fungal medications may be needed depending on the severity of the infection. Surgical intervention may also be needed to remove foreign bodies, and treat trauma, cancer, or fungal infections. Fluid therapy and hospitalization may be needed for patients that do not eat or drink well on their own, have a high fever, or develop a serious infection.

How Can I Help?

After any treatment, good at-home nursing care will be essential to a speedy recovery as ill pets will often struggle to eat or drink well on their own, and may not groom themselves as usual. Extra nutritional support may be necessary to get your pet back on his or her feet. Here are some quick tips on getting your pet back to normal as swiftly and healthily as possible:

  • Use all medications as prescribed by your veterinarian
  • Carefully monitor your pet's progress and have him or her rechecked
  • Separate any ill pets from others and use isolated feeding, bedding, and grooming items
  • Wash your hands after handling ill pets to reduce the chance of disease transmission

Need More Information?

If you have questions about this or any medical topic, please contact your local veterinarian, consult our extensive Pet Health and Preventive Care libraries, or learn more about how an Optimum Wellness Plan®, with its twice-yearly checkups, routinely recommended vaccines, early disease screening, and much more, can help keep your dog and cat healthy through each stage of your lives together.

Updated October 17, 2015