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Stuffed up nose.

Species: Dog
Breed: Australian Shepard
Age: 11-15 years
Dear Vet, We have a 12 year old Australian Shepard, 80 pound male. He is not having symptoms of being sick except for a problem with a stuffy nose sometimes. He sometimes must breath through his mouth, and will forcefully blow out his nose to clean if of mucus a few times over a year. Since he has had this trouble I have seen mucus come from his nose. I did bring him to the Vet and he gave us antibiotic to give him, but he continues to sometimes have a stuffy nose and will weeze some what. I do plan to take him to a new Vet but he is very protective and barks at the Vet and is agressive, not allowing them to examine him. Do you know what might be causing mucus in upper airways, it has been going on for about a year. Do you think there is any medication to address this? He is active adn his appetite is very good. He does have some lumps on him that we assume are the benine fatty turmors type. Thank you very much and we will await your response.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

This is definitely not a common problem. We don't tend to see too many dogs with congestion issues, and when we do, they tend to be brachycephalic breeds like pugs and bulldogs.

One of the first things I would wonder about in this type of situation is whether your dog has a tooth root abscess. The roots of the upper teeth can push up into the nasal cavity. However, if this were the case you should have seen some type of improvement on antibiotics.

A tumor in the nose is a possibility. That would be a hard thing to diagnose though as they don't tend to turn up well on xrays. Unfortunately if there is a nasal tumor you may be limited in treatment options.

Another possibility is a fungal infection. However, these are much more common in younger dogs than older dogs.

There are other things that can cause wheezing but if you are confident that the issue is in the nose then these things are unlikely.

If this were my case and the dog was difficult to examine I would probably be suggesting a brief anesthetic so that I could have a good thorough look at the nose and mouth. If there is nothing obvious there then I would likely be sending some samples of nasal swabs away to look for fungus.

I wish I had more answers for you!

Dr. Marie.

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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

Hello Dr. Marie, Thank you for responding to our question last week regarding our beloved dog Sparky. We spent about $ 1000.00 usd trying to save our cat Chester but had to put him to sleep due to cancer. We are not in a position to spend allot on Sparky. I did have him at a vet last week regarding his stuffy nose problem. He was aggressive so the vet tried to muzzle him, to examine him, but found with his mouth muzzled shut he was having real hard time breathing. The vet gave a new antibiotic and some fungal meds to give him. I have already tried antibiotics through a different vet a month ago. I understand that if he has a tumor in his nose obstructing his airway there is nothing we can do. I have seen greenish mucus from his nose a few times over the past three months, but I am wondering if this might not be a problem due to his nose but maybe his heart, like congestive heart failure or a lung problem, like the way a human would bet emphysema or bronchitis. He often now will try to blow out his nose to clean it, but when he breathes through his mouth it seems to sound wheezy and a little labored at times, at other times he is fine and will still go for his daily walks and will eat his normal meal. The vet we saw last week wants us to record him when he has his breathing difficulties. I am wondering if some kind of steroid drug like prednisone or something would help. Our other dog is a 5 year old border collie and will at times seen to wheeze forcefully as if to clear her airway, this is the same thing Sparky has done of the past year or two, without any symptoms. They both will sometimes get caught eating cat litter/cat poop, not if we can help though, and we have a horse and 4 goats whose poop they have been caught eating on occasion, do you think they could pick up an infection from this behavior? The main thing we do not want Sparky to suffer. I know people can use inhalers and bronchi dilators and all that but I don't know about dogs, He seems quite bothered by this. He does have lumps under his skin about walnut size that do not seem to enlarge over time. If this problem is due to cancer wouldn't we be seeing dramatic symptoms like loss of appetite and inactivity? I will send you a picture of Sparky, Thank you Dr. Marie and God Bless.

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Thank you for the photo. Sparky is gorgeous. :)

Cases like this are so hard because even with a well behaved dog it is hard to get a diagnosis. The green discharge means that there is some type of infection there. It is uncommon to have a bacterial infection that exists on its own in the nose. What I mean by that, is that if there is a bacterial infection, there is something in there that is causing it. It could be a foreign object stuck in the nose or it could be that there is a tooth root that is infected or it could be that there is a tumor that has become infected.

It's also possible that this is not a bacterial infection but a fungal infection. If this is the case then it won't get better with the antibiotics and antifungal medication will be necessary. But again, this is not common in older dogs.

The type of fluid that is produced with heart or lung problems is usually a clear fluid and it doesn't usually cause congestion in the nose.

Again, I wish I had more answers for you. It does sound like your vet is doing all of the same things I would. I hope things look up soon.

Dr. Marie

I wish

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.