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Sinusitis and Rinitus in Dogs: Symptoms, Diagnoses, and Treatment

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    What is Sinusitis and Rhinitis in Dogs?

    Sinusitis is defined as the inflammation of the lining of the sinuses. The upper respiratory issue, Rhinitis, often goes hand in hand with Sinusitis. Rhinitis is the inflammation of the nose while Sinusitis refers to the inflammation of the nasal passages. When both are present, a major filtration function in the body is removed and exposes the lungs to larger amounts of microorganisms than usual. Sinusitis and Rhinitis may be presented in either an acute or chronic form. The acute form is typically caused by a foreign body lodged in the nasal cavity of the dog. Symptoms will come on suddenly and violent sneezing is often the first sign. The chronic form is present when the cause behind Sinusitis and Rhinitis can be determined. Typically, environmental allergies are the cause. The chronic form may also occur when the dog suffers from acute viral infections. 

    What Causes Sinusitis and Rhinitis in Dogs?

    There are a variety of causes behind Sinusitis and Rhinitis in dogs. However, viral infection is the most common cause when it onsets suddenly. Canine distemper and canine parainfluenza are often involved as well. Bacterial infections frequently occur following the initial viral infection. It’s very rare for a bacterial infection to take place without an initial viral infection. 

    Outside of viral and bacterial infections, Sinusitis and Rhinitis can be onset by allergies. Some dogs experience this seasonally due to pollen, or year-round due to environmental allergies such as dust and mold. 

    Foreign bodies lodged in the nasal passage of the dog may also lead to sudden Sinusitis and Rhinitis. 

    There are many underlying causes of long-term Rhinitis and Sinusitis including chronic inflammatory disease, trauma, parasites, tumors, or fungal infection. In some cases, these may even occur when a root abscess on an upper tooth extends further upward.  

    Who’s At Risk of Developing Sinusitis and Rhinitis?

    While any dog can develop Sinusitis and Rhinitis, dogs with longer noses and skulls are most commonly affected. These breeds include the Collie, Border Collie, and Greyhounds. On the other hand, brachycephalic breeds, those with short noses, like the french bulldog and pug, are prone to pollution-induced tumors that can lead to Rhinitis. 

    What are the Symptoms of Sinusitis and Rhinitis?

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    There are a variety of symptoms that are typically presented in dogs who are experiencing Sinusitis and Rhinitis. The most commonly observed symptoms include:

    • Excessive violent sneezing 
    • Facial pain or swelling
    • Nasal discharge (only from one nostril suggests the presence of a foreign object) 
    • Open mouth breathing
    • Labored breathing 
    • Reverse sneezing
    • Coughing 
    • Nose bleed
    • Loss of appetite 
    • Pawing at the face 
    • Bad breath 

    How is Sinusitis and Rhinitis Diagnosed?

    Since Sinusitis and Rhinitis can be caused by a variety of reasons, it can be very difficult to diagnose and treat. A proper diagnosis will require a variety of tests performed including a physical exam, x-rays, rhinoscopy, nasal biopsy, nasal cultures, blood samples, and elimination of other causes. 

    What is the Treatment for Sinusitis and Rhinitis?

    The treatment of Sinusitis and Rhinitis is highly dependent upon the cause behind the issue. In some cases, such as a foreign body, tumor, or trauma, surgery may be necessary. When dental complications like a root abscess are present, removal of the tooth may be required. When a bacterial infection is present, antibiotics or fungicides are typically used. 

    When a secondary bacterial infection accompanies the viral infection, the viral infection will be treated with supportive care and antibiotics will be used to treat the secondary bacterial infection. 

    In severe cases, the dog may require IV fluids if a high fever is present in addition to the infection.