Can teary eyes and runny nose be allergies in dogs?

Can teary eyes and runny nose be allergies in dogs?
Photo by Karsten Winegeart / Unsplash

When you notice your dog has a runny nose and eye discharge, it's natural to wonder about their health. Dogs, like humans, can exhibit these symptoms for various reasons. While sometimes these symptoms are benign, other times they can indicate underlying health issues.

Some common symptoms of Runny Nose and Eye Discharge in Dogs

A dog with a runny nose and watery eyes might initially seem like they're simply experiencing a minor irritation. However, these symptoms can sometimes be a sign of more significant health concerns. A runny nose in dogs, medically known as nasal discharge, can vary from clear and watery to thick and colored, which can hint at different underlying causes. Similarly, eye discharge in dogs can range from clear and watery to thick and purulent.

Common Causes of Runny Nose and Eye Discharge in Dogs

Allergies: Just like humans, dogs can suffer from allergies. Allergens like pollen, dust, or certain foods can cause symptoms like a runny nose, sneezing, and watery eyes.

Infections: Viral, bacterial, or fungal infections can lead to nasal and ocular discharges. Conditions such as canine distemper or infections caused by foreign bodies lodged in the nose can cause these symptoms.

Breed-Specific Issues: Some breeds are more prone to these symptoms due to their facial structure. For example, brachycephalic breeds like Pugs and Bulldogs often have watery eyes and nasal discharge because of their short nasal passages.

Environmental Factors: Smoke, chemical fumes, and other irritants can cause temporary discomfort and discharge from the nose and eyes.

Injury or Trauma: Physical damage to the nose or eyes can lead to discharge. Even something as simple as a scratch can lead to noticeable symptoms.

Diagnosing the Cause of Runny Nose and Watery Eyes

To determine the cause of a dog's runny nose and watery eyes, a veterinarian will conduct a thorough examination, which may include:

  • Physical Examination: Checking for other symptoms like fever, sneezing, coughing, or breathing difficulties.
  • Laboratory Tests: Blood tests, nasal swabs, or cultures to check for infections or underlying health issues.
  • Imaging: X-rays or CT scans to look for blockages, tumors, or structural problems in the nasal passages.

Treatment and Management

Treatment for a runny nose and watery eyes in dogs depends on the underlying cause:

  • Allergies: Antihistamines or corticosteroids may be prescribed to reduce symptoms.
  • Infections: Antibiotics or antifungal medications can treat bacterial and fungal infections, respectively.
  • Foreign Bodies: Removal of any foreign objects lodged in the nasal passage or eye.
  • Environmental Management: Reducing exposure to irritants or allergens can help prevent symptoms.

When to See a Vet

It’s important to consult with a veterinarian if your dog's symptoms are persistent, worsening, or accompanied by other signs of illness. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial to prevent complications and ensure your pet's well-being.

Prevention and Care

Preventive measures can help reduce the risk of runny noses and watery eyes in dogs:

  • Regular Check-Ups: Routine veterinary visits can help catch and treat issues before they become serious.
  • Environmental Control: Keeping your home free of dust, smoke, and strong chemicals can help reduce irritants.
  • Proper Grooming: Regular cleaning of your dog’s face, especially for breeds with facial folds or long hair, can prevent irritation.

Specific Breeds and Considerations

Certain breeds, like German Shepherds, may be more susceptible to conditions like nasal discharge due to their size and genetic predispositions. Small breeds, like Shih Tzus, often suffer from tear staining and watery eyes due to their facial structure.


A dog’s runny nose and watery eyes can stem from various causes, ranging from minor irritations to serious health concerns. Observing your dog's overall behavior and symptoms is crucial for determining when to seek veterinary care. With the right approach and timely intervention, most causes of nasal and ocular discharge in dogs can be effectively managed or treated, ensuring a happy, healthy life for your furry friend.