Dogs have the world by the nose. More than sight and more than hearing, their sense of smell guides them around their environments. So when sinus troubles hit, they can make dogs more than miserable. Get your dog to the vet immediately if she is sneezing, coughing or breathing heavily.
A Variety of Causes
Sinus infections in dogs often result from fungal, viral or bacterial infections. Upper respiratory tract infections yield the highest risk for sinus infection, many of them starting with exposure to allergens or irritants. Smoke, dust, pollen and mold can inflame your dog's sinuses and lead to upper respiratory or sinus cavity infection. Other causes of sinus infections include insect bites and stings, and oral problems such as abscessed teeth, particularly in older dogs.
Same Symptoms as in Humans
The most common symptoms of a dog with sinus problems are exactly the same as they are for people -- sneezing, wheezing and runny nose. In more serious cases, your dog may lose his appetite or gasp air in an attempt to pull the mucus from the back of his nasal passages and down into his throat. This may make him gag or cough. An inflamed or infected sinus can also lead to watery eyes, lethargy and even depression.
Involve Your Vet
A humidifier may loosen nasal mucus, making it easier to drain and staving off a budding sinus infection. The humidifier approach works best for occasional sinus conditions that are not yet full-blown sinus infections. Chronic inflammation problems are not usually curable. As a first course, vets may treat infections with antibiotics. For inflammations, whether an infection is present or not, a vet will usually prescribe medication designed to treat the underlying cause of the inflammation.
Antibiotics only work for bacterial infections. If your dog is suffering from a viral infection that has affected her sinuses, your vet will prescribe plenty of rest and fluids and, typically, a round of medications that treat the symptoms while the virus runs its course. For fungus-based infections, such as those caused by inhaling mold spores, your vet will prescribe a round of antifungal medicines. In any case, keep the pet inside, where she can remain warm and dry, while she recovers.