Signs & Symptoms of Sinusitis in Dogs

When he has a sinus infection, your pooch won't feel good.
When he has a sinus infection, your pooch won't feel good. (Image: igorr1/iStock/Getty Images)

If your pup has sinusitis, it means his sinuses, spaces located inside his nasal passages, are inflamed. He'll likely experience some nasal discharge, sneezing and congestion when his sinuses can't work correctly due to the inflammation. If your dog seems to have these symptoms, bring him to your vet. A sinus infection or something more serious could be to blame.

Canine Sinusitis and Its Causes

When the lining of your dog's paranasal sinuses becomes inflamed, they cannot drain properly, leading to congestion. Many things can cause sinusitis.

  • Viral infections are the most common causes of canine sinusitis, including canine distemper, canine parainfluenza and canine adenovirus types 1 and 2, according to the Merck Manual Pet Health Edition.
  • Bacterial or fungal infections can cause sinusitis in dogs. The most common fungal infections are caused by aspergillus and penicillium.
  • Foreign bodies in the nose can lead to infections and sinusitis as can tooth root abscesses.
  • Dogs with allergies to pollen or environmental pollutants such as cigarette smoke may experience sinusitis.
  • Nasal tumors can cause sinusitis.

Signs and Symptoms of Sinusitis

If your pooch is suffering from sinusitis, you'll notice many symptoms that are similar to those you'd expect with a human cold or flu.

  • The main symptoms include clear, discolored or bloody nasal discharge and frequent sneezing.
  • Due to nasal congestion, your pup will breathe through his mouth and have trouble breathing through his nose.
  • You may notice that your pup snores when he sleeps.
  • Your pup's nose or face may become swollen and deformed when he's suffering from sinusitis.
  • Tearing from the eyes and redness, also known as conjunctivitis, may accompany a sinus infection.
  • Sinusitis due to an infection could result in a fever, decreased appetite and lethargy.

Veterinary Diagnosis and Treatment

If your pooch exhibits any signs or symptoms of sinusitis, bring him to the vet for a proper diagnosis. Your vet will examine your dog, take note of any symptoms you've seen him exhibit and may perform X-rays, possibly including a computed tomography scan, on his nasal area. She may look into the nasal passages with an endoscope or take a biopsy from the sinus area. Your vet will culture any bacteria or fungi that she finds to determine which medication to use to eliminate them; viral infections must run their course. If your vet finds any foreign objects in the nose, she may need to perform surgery to remove them. In the case of nasal tumors, chemotherapy and radiation may be necessary to treat them.

Supportive Care for Sinusitis

To make your pup more comfortable during his recovery, give him some relief from his stuffed nose with a vaporizer, which produces steam to help open the nasal passages. Your vet may prescribe some antihistamines or steroids to help ease his symptoms, especially if allergies are to blame for his sinusitis.

Never give your dog any medication to treat his symptoms without bringing him to your vet. Not only could something serious such as cancer or heartworms account for his symptoms, but over-the-counter medications for human sneezing and congestion may be toxic to your dog, depending on the ingredients.

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