Sneezing and Nasal Discharge in Dogs

Has your pup been sneezing for a few days, or worse, a few months? You may be surprised to learn just how complicated that one clinical symptom can be. The underlying cause may be simple or serious and it can be frustrating for both pet owners and veterinarians alike during the process of working up Fido for a diagnosis. Next-Gen Sequencing (NGS) technology can assist your veterinarian as they determine the root cause of your pet pal’s symptoms.

Rhinitis and Sinusitis: What Does It Look Like?

Rhinitis is defined as inflammation of the mucous membranes of the nose whereas sinusitis involves inflammation of the entire nasal cavity. (1) Their clinical manifestations, however, appear similar. All breeds of dogs are susceptible to these disease processes, but dolichocephalic breeds (long nosed dogs such as Collies, German Shepherds, Retrievers, etc.) are overrepresented (4). Symptoms will vary depending on the severity or chronicity of the problem, but the following is a list of what you may see (1):

  • Sneezing – mild to severe
  • Reverse sneezing (often confused with a choking episode)
  • Nasal discharge – unilateral (one nostril) or bilateral (both nostrils)
  • Stertor (loud breathing, congestion)
  • Pawing at face
  • Facial swelling
  • Epistaxis (nosebleed)
  • Conjunctivitis (inflammation of the mucous membrane in the eye. May have associated eye drainage)

Canine Rhinitis and Sinusitis

What Causes Sneezing and Nasal Discharge in Dogs?

This is where things get murky. Everyone sneezes now and again, including your pooch. Mild short-lived sneezing is usually nothing to be alarmed about, but if your furry friend has violent sudden onset sneezing, nasal discharge/congestion, a swollen face, epistaxis, or it just won’t go away, it’s time to seek veterinary attention. The list of rhinitis/sinusitis causes is, unfortunately, a long one (2):

  • Tooth root abscess
  • Viruses (e.g. Canine Influenza, Canine Distemper)
  • Fungal Infections (e.g. Aspergillosis)
  • Parasites (e.g. nasal mites)
  • Foreign body (e.g. blade of grass, grass awn, seeds, etc.)
  • Idiopathic (unknown cause) lymphocytic-plasmacytic rhinitis
  • Allergies
  • Cancer
  • Bacteria
  • Birth defects (e.g. cleft palate)
  • Facial or Head trauma

Testing and Treatment for Sneezing and Nasal Discharge

The variety of underlying causes means that there is not one diagnostic test or treatment plan that will result in a resolution of clinical symptoms for all dogs. Some of these conditions are curable and others may require chronic management or are, unfortunately, incurable (e.g. cancer). Veterinarians will formulate their plan based in large part on history and physical presentation. Some situations may be diagnosed on physical examination (e.g. tooth root abscess), though testing typically involves radiography (X-rays, CT scan), rhinoscopy, nasal biopsy, and deep nasal tissue culture (1). Respiratory PCR testing may also be indicated if an infectious cause is suspected (especially viral). Antibiotics are often a routine part of the treatment plan, but not usually for the reason pet owners think. Bacterial infections are rarely the primary cause of rhinitis/sinusitis in dogs, though infections with Bordetella bronchiseptica do occur (1). More often bacteria are secondary invaders overgrowing in the face of inflammation resulting in a disproportionate amount of bacteria that are not a part of the normal nasal biome. The end result is an exacerbation of clinical symptoms (5). These bacteria may harbor resistant genes to antibiotics and make achieving resolution of symptoms challenging and confusing. It’s important to identify these secondary invaders and treat them appropriately on the road to diagnosis.

While culture and sensitivity testing for bacteria has historically been the gold standard of diagnostics, it has its limitations. Not all bacteria grow sufficiently well in the lab or the lab may not conduct testing on the particular organism involved. (e.g. anaerobes, mycobacteria, fungi, and mycoplasma) (3). Next-Gen Sequencing (NGS) Technology removes these hurdles and allows for consistent identification of bacterial and fungal organisms that may be involved in your dog’s sinus problem. It is one tool of many that veterinarians use to piece together the puzzle of your individual dog’s diagnosis and treatment plan. Removing and neutralizing secondary bacterial infections from the underlying cause of rhinitis/sinusitis in your pet is an important step in decreasing discomfort and symptoms. Better yet, NGS Technology is an additional test used in diagnosing fungal infections which are challenging to confirm.

Depending on your pet’s diagnosis, treatment protocols may involve tooth extraction, foreign body removal, antibiotics, steroids to reduce inflammation, antifungals, surgery, and chemotherapy. Owners can help their pets and their veterinarians by being patient through the process, follow recommended treatment plans, and attend follow up visits on schedule in order to monitor response to treatment.

The MiDOG All-in-One Microbial Test utilizes NGS technology to detect and quantify microbial DNA through untargeted and comprehensive sequencing and quantitative comparisons to reference databases. The MiDOG NGS technology provides a useful opportunity to shed light on the microbial makeup of your dog’s sinuses for clinical application. The MiDOG microbial test is grounded on scientific research that provides veterinarians DNA evidence for the guided treatment of canine rhinitis and sinusitis. A MiDOG microbial test provides the technologies for the accurate identification of all microorganisms within a pet’s sample, independent of culturing.

Find out if your vet uses MiDOG before you book your next appointment!

  1. Caroline C. Tonozzi, DVM, DACVECC, Mission Veterinary Partners, October 2022, Rhinitis and Sinusitis in Dogs and Cats, Merck Veterinary Manual
  2. Becky Lundgren, DVM, 05/05/2014, Rhinitis in Dogs and Cats, Veterinary Partner (VIN),
  3. Importance of Antimicrobial Susceptibility Testing, Michigan State University, Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory,
  4. Erika Meler, Marilyn Dunn, and Manon Lecuyer, January 2008, A Retrospective Study of Canine Persistent Nasal Disease: 80 Cases (1998-2003), The Canadian Veterinary Journal, National Library of Medicine,
  5. Barbara Tress, Elisabeth S. Dorn, […], and Bianka S. Schulz, May 1, 2017, Bacterial Microbiome of the Nose of Healthy Dogs and Dogs with Nasal Disease, PLos One, National Library of Medicine,

Categories: Dogs, Next-Gen DNA Sequencing Technology, Pet Health, Safety and Wellness, Pet Parents, Respiratory Infection

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Validated by Veterinarians

“Clients expect their veterinarians to stay up to date on all matters that affect the health and well being of their non-human family members. The current technique that we have used to determine the presence and antibiotic sensitivity of organisms causing disease in our pets is over a century old.

With the emergence of dangerous antibacterial resistance, it is critical that veterinarians are able to offer laser focused diagnostics and treatment. MiDog enables us to offer care that exceeds the typical standard of care.”

Bernadine Cruz, DVM, Laguna Hills Animal Hospital Laguna Woods, CA

“I love the absolute abundance and comparing the fungal with bacterial infection. I do not worry as much about getting a false negative urinary infection reading as I do with traditional urine cultures. Several times the same urine would culture negative but MiDOG would detect pathogens.”

Michael Morgan, DVMQuail Animal Hospital, Tustin, CA

“The MiDOG All-in-One Test is amazing, I would use it instead of culture and sensitivity.  Such rapid and detailed results, I will reach for MiDOG before culture next time!

Thank you very much MiDOG, for sharing the opportunity to try your technology.”

Martha Smith-Blackmore, DVM, President of Forensic Veterinary Investigations, LLC – Boston, MA

The MiDOG All-in-One Microbial Test is our new gold standard of pathogen identification. The results are so accurate and valuable – especially with assessing both bacterial and fungal infections with the same sample.

Thank you MiDOG!”

Kathy Wentworth, DVM, Diplomate ABVP Canine and Feline Practice – PetPoint Medical Center, Irvine, CA

“The MiDOG staff was extremely helpful and supportive.”

Cathy Curtis, DVM – London, UK

“I have had great results using the MiDOG® Test. Compared to traditional culture tests, I am better able to target the treatment for dogs because the MiDOG® Test is so sensitive that it identifies all pathogens including bacteria and fungi, as well as antibiotic sensitivity.

The cost and turnaround time are about the same as a culture test, but I get much more data. The test has great performance and I believe the NGS technology will be a game changer for veterinarians treating dogs with lesions or other infections.”

Michael Kavanagh, DVM, Practice owner – Saddleback Animal Hospital, Tustin, CA

“It’s helpful to have an NGS spectrum because it gives you a broader insight of what’s happening and what might be going on.”

Richard Harvey BVSc DVD DipECVD PhD FRSB FRCVS – European Specialist in Veterinary Dermatology – Head of Dermatology, Willows Veterinary Centre & Referral Service – Solihull, England UK

“I have been using MiDog for over 4 years now and exclusively as my test of choice for all cultures for 3 years.  It is so great to submit a culture and feel confident there will be a result when it comes back, especially for urine cultures.  The reports were intimidating at first because they contain so much information.  After the first few, I am now quickly able to glance over it and pick out the highlights.  I can then come back later and pour over all the details.  I have been extremely pleased with my patients’ results using the test as well.  I don’t envision ever going back to traditional culture and susceptibilities again.”

Brian M. Urmson, DVM, Columbiana Veterinary Associates

“As an exotic veterinarian, there are numerous tests we have to consider to check specific bacterial and fungal organisms based on the species. MiDOG eliminates the need for many of these separate samples and provides definitive results quickly to help us treat our patients more efficiently and effectively. The lab is wonderful to work with and has never rejected our samples- they even processed a lizard toe we amputated and determined the cause of skin infection.”

Dr. Melissa Giese, Chicago Exotics Animal Hospital

“MiDOG’s diagnostic approach offers the unique ability to identify pathogens that evade traditional culture and sensitivity testing. I have found that adding a molecular based testing approach in the form of Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) from MiDOG to my routine diagnostic cultures can be extremely helpful in the identification and diagnosis of uncommon pathogens in veterinary medicine.”

Dr. Wayne Rosenkrantz, Animal Dermatology Clinic – Tustin

“She [Dr. Krumbeck] really did a great job of making complicated concepts accessible and demonstrating the value of your services. I’m really looking forward to working with MiDOG on my research project!”

Dr. Yaicha Peters, Animal Dermatology Clinic – San Diego

“As a proud collaborator with MiDOG, I deeply appreciate their dedication to fostering partnerships between industry and veterinary experts. Their commitment to enhancing diagnostic quality for veterinarians is commendable. In my experience, their support has been invaluable, earning them a ‘Double A+, Triple Star’ rating. Their assistance has been faultless, contributing significantly to the success of my projects and studies. I eagerly anticipate our continued collaboration.”

Dr. Richard Harvey, BVSc DVD DipECVD PhD FRSB FRCVS; European Specialist in Veterinary Dermatology

“We’re seeing that, if we prescribe too many antibiotics or they’re taken too frequently, animals are developing inappropriate or pathogenic strains of bacteria. We’re also seeing that our antibiotics are just not working against them anymore… It’s a good example of why we need better diagnostic testing, like MiDOG, so that we’re selecting the correct antibiotic every time our patients have an infection.”

Dr. Alissa Rexo, DVM, CVA, DACVD, Mid-Atlantic Veterinary Dermatology

“The NGS technique as offered by MiDOG is wonderful because pathogens like Melissococcus plutonius, for example, are difficult to grow and keep alive in the laboratory. A standard laboratory cannot truly examine or even properly diagnose this pathogen in bee hives at this time. But with NGS, we can reliably diagnose it.”

Dr. Joerg Mayer, Entomologist and Microbiologist at the University of Georgia

“For me, as a clinician and as a researcher, I see the immense value in the product [the All-in-One Test]. I have had great success using MiDOG clinically, including identifying Mycoplasma in a 24 year old pigeon, a Nannizziopsis spp in a ball python from a large pet distributor, Mycoplasma and Fusobacterium necrophorum co-infection in a peacock, and to identify an abnormal gut GI in a technician’s dog that tested negative for everything else (but we were able to establish what was abnormal, and work toward fixing it).”

Dr. Jeremy Rayl – Veterinarian, Block House Creek Animal Hospital, Cedar Park, Texas