Archive : August

Rhinitis and Sinus Infections in Dogs

What Is a Sinus Infection in Dogs?

When you think about a dog’s nose, you might imagine a wide-open space inside. But actually, the nose also contains tiny, bony curlicues of specialized skin cells covered with tiny hairs called cilia that help the dog smell and filter debris. These curlicues are very important filters that block dust, pollens, and other particles from getting into your dog’s airways.

The sinuses, however, are open spaces where infections can occur. The frontal sinuses are in the back of the nose, near the forehead. The sphenoid sinus is near the middle of the head. In dogs, the maxillary recess in the cheek is so small that it is often empty. In brachycephalic dogs (short-nosed dogs, such as the Pug or French Bulldog), the frontal sinuses are very small or nonexistent.

Sinuses have several important functions:

They decrease the weight of the skull

They improve the sound of the voice

They buffer the nose from outside temperature changes

They humidify the air the dog breathes in

The mucosal lining of the sinuses helps fight infection

Since sinuses are surrounded by skull bones, sinuses have little escape from infection when there is infection or a mass in the nose. Sinus infections can also be difficult to treat because there is little blood supply in the sinuses to deliver antibiotics.

Symptoms of Sinus Infection in Dogs

Intermittent sneezing

Nasal discharge (clear, gray, white, yellow, green, sometimes bloody)

Swelling or depressions on the face or one side of the nose

Swelling and drainage under an eye if a tooth root is abscessed

Poor appetite

This may be due to a reduced sense of smell

In severe cases, this may be due to the inability to breathe easily while eating or drinking. If this is the case, veterinary care is needed immediately


Hesitant to move their head because of pain

Bad breath

Noisy/congested breathing

Open-mouth breathing and heavy panting

If you see your dog excessively panting, the tongue is hanging low, has reddened or bluish gums, is acting disoriented, has a wobbly walk, is vomiting, or has a rectal temperature above 103.5 F, your dog needs veterinary care right away.

Causes of Sinus Infection in Dogs

Trauma to the nose or face

Nasal or sinus tumor

Bacterial or fungal infection, such as Cryptococcus sp. or Aspergillus sp. (especially in German Shepherds) 

Tooth root abscess, especially the upper fourth premolar

Chronic idiopathic rhinosinusitis (meaning long-term, cause-unknown inflammation of the nasal passages and sinuses

Ciliary dyskinesia, a genetic disease that affects the cilia, hair-like structures in the nose, ears, and lungs in dogs. The cilia do not move much, so any debris that lands in the respiratory tract is unable to be cleared away as it usually would. This makes the dogs prone to bacterial infections.

Sinus cyst, especially in brachycephalic breeds

How Veterinarians Diagnose Sinus Infections in Dogs

The sinuses are not accessible for examination in pups that are awake, except for visible loss of symmetry or deformity of the face. Diagnosis requires general anesthesia, a clinical examination, diagnostic imaging, and endoscopy with tissue biopsies.

Additional testing may include:

Complete blood count (CBC): This may be normal or show elevated white blood cell count.

Fungal blood tests for Cryptococcus sp. or Aspergillus sp.: A cytology or biopsy may be needed for definitive diagnosis.

Fine needle aspirate of a lymph node or facial swelling: The slides are sent to a pathologist for interpretation.

Dental X-rays under anesthesia if a tooth root abscess is suspected.

Skull X-rays under sedation: These are difficult to perform and give limited information.

CT scan of the nose/skull under sedation or anesthesia: A CT scan gives excellent images of the nose, sinuses, and skull.

Rhinoscopy: This is a lighted scope that looks inside the front and back of the nose and takes biopsies and cultures.

Treatment of Sinus Infections in Dogs

The goal of treatment is always to address the underlying cause of the pain and nasal signs whenever possible. Treatment may include medication or surgery.

Medical Therapy

Dogs with bacterial infections in the nose and sinuses are typically placed on antibiotics given by mouth. Some vets may also prescribe antibiotics to be given as drops in the nose or with a nebulizer.

Dogs with chronic (long-term or recurrent) sinusitis due to bacterial infections are often treated with many rounds of antibiotics. This can make the antibiotics less effective because of antibiotic resistance. Pet parents can help prevent resistance by making sure to complete antibiotic courses, getting veterinary advice before starting a course of antibiotics, and avoiding antibiotic use unless it is necessary.

Dogs with ciliary dyskinesia are treated with nebulization and antibiotics as needed for recurrent infections.

Dogs with chronic idiopathic rhinosinusitis may benefit from anti-inflammatory treatment with NSAIDs (such as meloxicam) or a steroid (such as prednisone) when symptoms flare up. NSAIDs and steroids should never be given at the same time. 

If a veterinarian diagnoses a fungal infection, treatment depends on the type of fungal infection and its location (nose, sinus, and whether the infection extends into the brain).

Aspergillus sp. infections are most common in German Shepherds but can be seen in any dog breed. The treatment is removal of visible fungus spots (plaques) within the nose and an infusion of sterile antifungal solution  into the nose. 

Cryptococcus sp. is typically treated with medications such as amphotericin B or fluconazole. Occasionally, frontal sinus infections may be treated with rhinoscopy or surgical treatment for flushing or removal of fungal plaques.


A dog that has had head or face trauma may suffer nose or sinus fractures. If so, they would need surgery to relieve their pain and prevent long-term sinus and nasal infections.

Dogs with a tumor in the sinus or nose region may need surgery to remove the tumor or reduce its size. This surgery may be done after chemotherapy or radiation therapy has already been attempted to shrink the tumor.

When an abscess (pocket of pus) is present in a tooth root, that infection can spread to the nose and sinus. Antibiotics alone will not clear the infection until the tooth has been removed while the dog is under anesthesia. 

Brachycephalic (short-nosed) dogs with recurrent nasal/sinus infections may benefit from surgery to widen their nostrils and/or remove extra soft palate tissue from the back of the mouth and their everted laryngeal saccules in their throat to ease their breathing. Once they are able to breathe more normally, many short-nosed dogs have fewer sinus infections.

Dogs with long-term infections of the frontal sinus may benefit from rhinoscopy or surgery with flushing and culture of the frontal sinus. The procedure is often recommended for dogs for whom repeated courses of medications have not relieved symptoms.

Brachycephalic dogs with a sinus cyst may have the cyst removed by rhinoscopy or occasionally with surgery of the frontal sinus.

Recovery and Management of Sinus Infections in Dogs

Medical Therapy

Bacterial infections in the nose and sinus may be cleared by one course of antibiotics. But recurrence is common due to the anatomy of the nose, which allows for pockets of infection to persist. These infections typically are not life-threatening but may be bothersome to the dog and pet parent.

Dogs with ciliary dyskinesia have a very guarded to poor long-term prognosis, as they have difficulty clearing infections with poorly functioning respiratory cilia.

Chronic idiopathic rhinosinusitis is a recurrent disease. Some dogs have episodes of the disease with relief for long periods between episodes, while other dogs are persistently affected. If the episodes are persistent, a full diagnostic work-up including CT scan and rhinoscopy is recommended to rule out an underlying infection or nasal mass that could be complicating the disease.

Dogs with aspergillus sp. infections in the nose have a better chance of cure if they are young, if more plaques were able to be removed before treatment, and if the dog was not sick for a long time before diagnosis. Brain infections have a more guarded prognosis.

Similarly, cryptococcus sp. infections of the brain have a more guarded prognosis than nasal infections. Sinus infections are more difficult to clear, have a longer treatment time, and may require surgery.


Recovery from surgery to repair fractures, trauma, or mass in the nose/sinus may take  several weeks, depending on the extent of the wounds and the complexity of the repair. The long-term prognosis is generally good after a fracture repair, although some dogs are more susceptible to bacterial infections due to loss of the normal bony structures inside of their nose.

Dogs that had a tooth root abscess removed generally need to eat soft food for 7-10 days and will go home on antibiotics and a pain reliever. Once the area has healed, the prognosis is excellent.

Brachycephalic dogs that have surgery to widen their nostrils and/or remove extra soft palate tissue and their everted laryngeal saccules to ease their breathing will have hospital stay and a recovery lasting about 10 days. Afterward, their prognosis for breathing better is very good. The surgery cannot change the size of the sinuses (due to the shape of the skull), but by improving airflow, nasal and sinus infection occurrences should decrease.

Featured Image: Poturak


Cappello ZJ, Minutello K, Dublin AB. Anatomy, Head and Neck, Nose Paranasal Sinuses. StatPearls. Online site. Updated February 11, 2023.

Billen F, Peeters D. Canine Aspergillosis. Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine, ebook. 8th Edition. Elsevier; 2017.

Clercx C. Disease of the Trachea and Small Airways. Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine, ebook. 8th Edition. Elsevier; 2017.

Clercx C, Billen F. Sinusitis and Other Sinus Disorders. Cote’s Clinical Veterinary Advisor: Dogs and Cats, ebook. 4th Edition. Elsevier; 2019.

Merveille AC, Battaille G, Billen F, Deleuze S, Fredholm M, Thomas A, Clercx C, Lequarré AS. Clinical findings and prevalence of the mutation associated with primary ciliary dyskinesia in Old English Sheepdogs. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine. 2014;28(3):771-778.

Oechtering, GU. Diseases of the Nose, Sinuses, and Nasopharynx. Ettinger SJ, Feldman EC, Cote E. Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine, ebook. 8th Edition. Elsevier; 2017.

Kaczmar, E., Rychlik, A. Szweda, M. The evaluation of three treatment protocols using oral prednisone and oral meloxicam for therapy of canine idiopathic lymphoplasmacytic rhinitis: a pilot study. Irish Veterinary Journal. 2018;71(19).

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Jennifer S. Fryer, DVM


Jennifer S. Fryer, DVM graduated with Honors from Brown University with an AB in Development Studies, an interdisciplinary study of the…

Heart Medicine Poisoning in Dogs

Digoxin Toxicity in Dogs

Digoxin is used to treat congestive heart failure. Its primary benefit effect is to help the heart to contract. While digoxin is useful at times, the difference between a therapeutic dosage and a toxic dosage can be slight. For that reason, the veterinarian will need to monitor the digoxin blood levels throughout treatment. Owners also need be aware of toxicity signs, as they can be subtle and may look just like a heart failure.

The condition or disease described in this medical article can affect both dogs and cats. If you would like to learn more about how this disease affects cats, please visit this page in the PetMD health library.

Symptoms and Types

One of the most significant concerns about this condition is toxicity to the heart cells themselves, called myocardial toxicity. When this occurs, abnormal heart rhythms can occur, often leading to heart failure. Typically depression, anorexia, vomiting and diarrhea are often the first symptoms an animal will display. This can result even when the medication is given at the prescribed dose because the therapeutic and toxic levels are very close.

With acute overdose, the dog may become comatose or have seizures. Any time toxicity is expected, it is important to consult with a veterinarian as the toxicity can progress quickly.


It is important to have routine blood samples to assess the digoxin level in the serum. Doses are initially based on lean body weight, yet each dog metabolizes the drug differently. Therefore, the veterinarian will take a blood sample to determine the serum digoxin level throughout the treatment, but additional blood analyses for electrolytes, organ function and cell counts are also important.

An electrocardiogram, which checks for abnormal rhythms (arrhythmias), is critical in determining the prognosis and an appropriate treatment plan.


No additional digoxin should be given after you notice symptoms of toxicity in your dog. It is important that the pet receive emergency medical attention if there is an overdose, because toxicity can lead to death quickly. If an acute overdose has taken place, it may be also necessary to induce vomiting by using activated charcoal.

The fluid and electrolyte balance also needs to be corrected, as abnormalities are a significant contributor to the toxic effects to the heart. If an abnormal rhythm is present, antiarrhythmics may be given. A continuous electrocardiogram may be placed on the dog to monitor heart rhythm.

Antibody therapy, a medication given to bind with a powerful cardiac stimulant that is in the blood stream, is used in humans with digoxin toxicity and has been used on animals. However, the medication can be costly.

Living and Management

Congestive heart failure is progressive. Therefore, management of the disease will change as it progresses and different medications will be prescribed. Careful management and frequent follow-up exams are critical, especially if digoxin is part of another treatment plan. Expect to have blood levels checked periodically throughout treatment.

Having a digoxin toxicity episode may concern the dog owner into stopping the digoxin treatment, but lower doses can begin again after the blood has dropped below toxic range and the pet has no further signs of toxicity. Recent reports have indicated using digoxin at levels below therapeutic levels can be beneficial.

Sealyham Terrier

The Sealyham Terrier is the embodiment of power and determination. Always keen and alert, this breed from Wales is small, strong, and coordinated.

Physical Characteristics

This short-legged standard terrier is slightly long in proportion to its height. However, its short legs and strong body gives it flexibility and assists in steering itself in narrow places.

The Sealyham’s weather-resistant coat is comprised of a dense, soft undercoat and a wiry, hard outer coat that is white in color. It also bears a determined, alert, and keen expression.

Personality and Temperament

The Sealyham’s playful, friendly, and outgoing nature makes it adorable. It shows complete devotion to its human family but tends to be reserved towards strangers. Even though it is one of the calmest of terriers, the Sealyham always springs to action, enjoying such things as chasing, digging, and investigating.

In fact, this can be problematic when the independent Sealyham becomes bored, as it will dig ceaselessly.


Best suited for life indoors, with access to the yard, the Sealyham can also adjust to life in an apartment. When it comes to a good exercise regime, this breed is not very demanding: a lively game session or short walk every day is good for it. As it tends to go where a scent takes it, the Sealyham Terrier should be allowed to walk off-leash only in a secure area.

The dog’s wiry coat requires combing two or three times a week and shaping once every three months. For show dogs shaping is done by stripping, while clipping is done for Sealyham dogs kept as pet .


The Sealyham Terrier, which has an average lifespan of 11 to 13 years, may be troubled with minor health problems like retinal dysplasia and lens luxation. The breed may also be susceptible to deafness. To identify some of these issues, your veterinarian may recommend eye and hearing exams for this breed of dog.

History and Background

Although there is some earlier evidence that a small, long-backed white terrier was imported to Wales in the 15th century, the Sealyham Terrier was not documented until the mid-19th century.

The Sealyham Terrier derives its name from Sealyham, Haverfordwest, Wales, the estate of Captain John Edwardes, who worked tirelessly between 1850 and 1891 to develop a small breed that always remained alert and which was suitable for quarrying badger, fox, and otter. Although the breeds he used for creating the Sealyham remain a mystery, some believe Captain Edwardes may have used the Dandie Dinmont Terrier as a base.

In 1903, the Sealyham Terrier gained entry into the show ring, as its striking appearance made it a natural for dog shows. In 1911, the American Kennel Club officially recognized the breed. As these terriers were outstanding hunting dogs and competitive show dogs, the demand for them increased. Even today, the Sealyham Terrier is considered an excellent dog, both in the field and in the ring.

Miscarriage Due to Bacterial Infection (Brucellosis) in Dogs

Brucellosis in Dogs

Brucellosis is a contagious bacterial disease that affects several animal species. In dogs, this condition is caused by a bacterium known as Brucella canis. The bacteria are typically spread through breeding and through contact with tissue remains from miscarried pregnancies, but may also be spread through an infected mother’s milk. An infected bitch may spontaneously abort the pregnancy, or may have a marked decrease in her fertility levels. If she does carry the puppies to term, they often still die as a result of infection, since puppies have undeveloped immune systems that are not capable of fighting these aggressive bacteria.

Brucellosis is highly contagious amongst dogs. It frequently affects kenneled dogs, but dogs that have never been kenneled may also become infected. This disease is responsible for a decrease in 75 percent of pups that are weaned in breeding kennels.

The Brucella bacterium has zoonotic properties, meaning that it can affect humans, and possibly other animals as well. Though chances for human infection are found to be quite low, it is still best to take preventative precautions while treating an infected dog. An extra sanitary environment, along with personal protection (e.g., disposable gloves) should be standard until the infection has been eradicated entirely.

While brucellosis can affect any breed of dog, it is commonly seen in beagles. The causative organism has a tendency to replicate successfully in the reproductive organs of both male and female dogs. It causes abortion and infertility in female dogs, and testicular atrophy and infertility in male dogs.

Symptoms and Types


Typically appears healthy Vaginal discharge Decrease in fertility Loss of sex desire Abortion (usually 6-8 weeks after conception, though may abort at any stage of pregnancy) Birth of weak pups


Swollen scrotal sacs in males due to infection of testicles Shrinkage of testicles Infertility

Both genders:

Inflammation of the eyes/cloudy eyes Back pain due to infection of spinal disks Leg pain or weakness Weakness Lethargy Swollen lymph nodes Fever Loss of control over movements in chronic cases


You will need to provide a thorough history of your dog’s health leading up to the onset of symptoms. Once your veterinarian has thoroughly examined your dog, standard fluid samples will be taken for laboratory testing. However, often it is the case with Brucella canis that it is not diagnosed with standard blood tests; laboratory test results are usually normal.

A combination of various serological tests may be necessary in order to confirm the diagnosis, but usually, a titer test will verify that your dog is infected with the Brucella bacterium. This test measures your dog’s antibody levels and will show whether there are specific antibodies to the Brucella organism in your dog’s blood. To confirm the presence of Brucella, your veterinarian will take blood samples to grow the organism on culture media in the laboratory. Similarly, cultures of vaginal fluids or semen can also be used for isolation of the causative organism. As the lymph nodes are also affected by this infection, a lymph node biopsy can also be used in some cases for diagnostic purposes.


The major goal of therapy is to eradicate the causative organism from the dog, but this may be difficult to achieve in all animals. Antibiotic treatment is employed to treat these patients, but treatment is not always 100 percent effective. Breeding a dog that has or has had brucellosis is not recommended under any circumstance. For this reason, your veterinarian will be insistent on spaying or neutering your dog to prevent any chance of contamination.

In kenneled situations, euthanasia is often recommended.

Brucellosis has the potential for being spread zoonotically to humans. For this reason, people who have autoimmune disorders, or who are susceptible to infection should not keep a dog that is infected with brucellosis.

Living and Management

This disease can be difficult to treat, so you must adhere to the recommendations and guidelines given to you by your veterinarian. After the initial treatment, some tests may need to be conducted again every month for three months in order to evaluate progress. If your dog is not responding well to the treatment, depending on the severity of your dog’s condition, your veterinarian will recommend re-treatment, neutering, or euthanasia.

Regular monitoring of the disease status in kennels is important, and quarantine measures, along with testing, should be conducted before introduction of new animals to the kennel.

If you dog is, or has been infected, do not sell it or give it to anyone else and do not breed your dog under any circumstance. Animals that have been diagnosed with brucellosis are considered positive for this disease for the rest of their lives; periodic treatment with antibiotics to reduce the number of bacteria in the body is the only option for minimizing symptoms and for shedding of causative organisms.


All intact male and female dogs should be tested for Brucella canis every three to six months, and all breeding dogs should be tested before breeding takes place.

False Pregnancy in Dogs

What Is False Pregnancy in Dogs?

False pregnancy in dogs is also called pseudopregnancy or pseudocyesis. This condition can occur in unspayed female dogs because of normal changes in hormone levels.

These hormone changes trick the body into thinking it is pregnant and about to give birth.

Symptoms of False Pregnancy in Dogs

False pregnancy in dogs causes the same behavioral and physical changes as a dog that is actually pregnant.

Behavioral Changes

The most common symptoms of phantom pregnancy in dogs are restlessness and nesting.

Your dog might bring blankets or other objects to their bed to create a nest, and may be reluctant to leave this area. They may also “mother” objects like toys, carrying them around, putting them in their nest, and protecting them.

False pregnancy in dogs can cause them to be anxious—and even reactive or defensive—if their nest or their “puppies” are disturbed or moved. Some dogs become so intense in these behaviors that they may not eat much.

Physical Changes

Physically, dogs that are experiencing a false pregnancy go through changes to prepare for puppies to be born.

Their mammary glands (breasts) and nipples enlarge evenly, and they may even produce some milk.

This swelling can be uncomfortable, so your dog might lick at the glands, causing irritation. Their bellies could even contract.

Rarely, dogs with false pregnancy can also develop increased thirst, which means they need to pee more often. Sometimes dogs with this condition can become hungrier than usual.

Causes of False Pregnancy in Dogs

False pregnancy in a dog is the result of a rapid decrease in the hormone progesterone and an increase in the hormone prolactin. These hormonal changes occur normally in an unspayed female dog about 6-8 weeks after she’s been in heat.

The same hormonal changes can also occur in a female dog who was spayed during a part of the heat cycle when she had high progesterone. The spay causes the same rapid progesterone decrease as the normal heat cycle, and this can result in a false pregnancy within 3-14 days of being spayed.

How Vets Diagnose False Pregnancy in Dogs

If your dog is showing signs of a false pregnancy, bring her to the vet.

If her symptoms, history, and physical exam findings all fit this condition and there’s no chance that your dog is actually pregnant, then a false pregnancy can be diagnosed by your vet without additional testing.

If there is a possibility your dog could be pregnant, then the vet will test her blood for levels of a hormone called relaxin to help determine if it’s a true pregnancy. An ultrasound or x-ray can also be used to see if she is carrying puppies.

There are other issues, some of them serious, that can cause similar symptoms. If there could be other causes for your dog’s symptoms besides a false pregnancy, your vet will do a complete physical exam.

Additional testing could include bloodwork, urine tests, x-rays, ultrasound, or a biopsy of the swollen mammary glands.

Treatment for False Pregnancy in Dogs

Usually, false pregnancy in dogs resolves in 2-3 weeks without any treatment.

For dogs that are irritating their nipples by licking them, a T-shirt, cone, or inflatable collar may be needed. Avoid milking or touching your dog’s nipples and mammary glands, as this will encourage more milk production.

In severe cases, medication can be given that blocks the prolactin hormone that causes the symptoms.

Recovery and Management of False Pregnancy in Dogs

Since false pregnancy in dogs is due to a hormonal change, your dog should be back to normal within a few weeks as her hormones cycle again. Female dogs who aren’t spayed and experience false pregnancies often have them during every heat cycle.

Spaying stops the heat cycle and hormonal changes, so it will prevent future false pregnancies. However, if a dog is spayed during an episode of false pregnancy, that won’t stop the symptoms.

False Pregnancy in Dogs FAQs

How long does a dog’s false pregnancy last?

Typically 2-3 weeks, sometimes longer.

Is false pregnancy in dogs dangerous?

No. These hormonal changes are natural and will not harm your dog.

How can I help my dog through a false pregnancy?

You can help your dog by taking her to the vet to rule out any other conditions, then keeping her comfortable.

Use a T-shirt, a cone, or an inflatable collar to prevent her from licking or stimulating her nipples and mammary glands, which could cause irritation and milk production.

How common is false pregnancy in dogs?

It only occurs in unspayed female dogs, and occasionally in female dogs who have recently been spayed. False pregnancy is part of a normal hormonal cycle, so some degree of symptoms is fairly common in unspayed female dogs.

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Aja Senestraro, DVM


Dr. Aja Senestraro is a holistic veterinarian based in Seattle, Washington. As the founder of Sea to Sky Holistic Vet she is privileged to…

Patent Ductus Arteriosus Heart Defect in Dogs

Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) is a congenital heart defect in dogs, which means that the problem develops in the womb and is present at birth. To appreciate the effects that a PDA has on a dog’s body it’s essential to understand puppy development and some basic anatomy.

Dog Heart Anatomy and Development

In healthy dogs, deoxygenated blood returns from the body to the right side of the heart. Next, this blood goes to the lungs through the pulmonary artery to be reoxygenated, and then it travels back to the left side of the heart. The aorta is the main artery that feeds this oxygenated blood from the left side of the heart to the rest of the body.

In the womb, the fetal aorta is connected to the pulmonary artery by a special blood vessel called the ductus arteriosus. This vessel allows blood to flow directly from the right side of the heart to the aorta, bypassing the lungs. This works in the womb because the fetus gets its oxygen from the mother’s bloodstream through the placenta, not through its own lungs.

Normally at birth, this connection is no longer patent (open). Once a newborn has begun to breathe on its own, the ductus arteriosus closes and the pulmonary artery opens so blood can flow from the right side of the heart into the lungs to be oxygenated. But with a patent ductus arteriosis, the connection remains open. Consequently, blood moves in abnormal ways through the heart and lungs. A PDA allows blood to flow directly from the aorta into the pulmonary artery, and then to the lungs. This is called a shunt.

If the shunt is moderate to large, it can cause left-sided congestive heart failure from blood volume overload on the left side of the heart. Less frequently, a large PDA will cause injury to the blood vessels in the lungs because an excessive amount of blood is flowing through them. High blood pressure in the lungs can cause a reversal of the shunt so the blood goes from right to left (pulmonary artery to the aorta).

This atypical right-to-left shunting of a PDA can cause the aorta to carry blood that is low in oxygen to the rest of the body, causing problems including the production of extra red blood cells (since they carry oxygen), making the blood too thick.

Symptoms and Types

The symptoms associated with patent ductus arteriosus in dogs depend on the severity of the abnormality and how long it has been present. In general, some combination of the following is noticeable early in an affected dog’s life:

Heart murmurExercise intolerancePoor growthWeaknessCollapse

Left-to-right shunting PDA:

CoughingRapid breathingDifficulty breathing

Right-to-left shunting PDA:

Hind legs are weakBlue-tinged gums and skin

Causes of Patent Ductus Arteriosus in Dogs

Genetics is the primary risk factor for PDA in dogs. Purebred, female dogs are at increased risk. Popular breeds that are predisposed to PDA include:

American cocker spanielBichon friseChihuahuaCollieEnglish springer spanielGerman shepherd dogIrish setterKeeshondKerry blue terrierLabrador retrieverMalteseNewfoundlandPomeranianPoodleShetland sheepdogYorkshire terrier

Diagnosis of Patent Ductus Arteriosus in Dogs

Your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical exam on your dog, likely followed by a chemical blood profile, a complete blood count, and a urinalysis to provide general health information. You will need to give a thorough history of your pet’s health leading up to the onset of symptoms.

Visualization of the heart, using radiographs (x-rays) and ultrasound, is necessary for an accurate diagnosis of PDA and to plan appropriate treatment.

Treatment of Patent Ductus Arteriosus in Dogs

With left to right PDAs, surgery will be needed to place a device that will gradually close the abnormal connection between the aorta and pulmonary artery. Before surgery, a dog’s condition may need to be stabilized using oxygen therapy and medications. It is safe to perform this operation on puppies as young as seven to eight weeks of age. Surgery is not without risks, but many dogs respond beautifully.

Pets with a right to left shunting PDA cannot have a surgical correction. Their condition will sometimes respond to medical management for a period of time, but most eventually die as a result of their PDA.

Living with Patent Ductus Arteriosus

Dogs with a mild to moderate, left to right PDA can be treated normally after they have been allowed several weeks to recover from their surgical correction. Your dog’s surgeon will provide you with individualized recommendations for postoperative care and monitoring.

Preventing Patent Ductus Arteriosus

Because this trait is genetically transmitted, dogs that have had a PDA should not be bred.

Kerry Blue Terrier

Originally bred as a farm dog in the mountainous regions of Ireland, the Kerry Blue Terrier is a stunning show dog and a giddy house pet. If you want an active dog that will be begging you to run, explore, and play with it, then this athletic fur ball with a blue-gray coat should be your pet of choice.

Physical Characteristics

The Kerry Blue Terrier is long-legged, strong-boned, muscular, and upstanding dog with a short back. Its build and athletic ability enable it to herd, trail, run, retrieve, swim, and dispatch vermin, making it a perfect farm companion.

The Kerry Blue’s coat is blue-gray in color, soft, wavy, and dense. However, this dog is born with a black coat, which changes to a blue-gray hue between its ninth month and second year.

Personality and Temperament

As this breed is fond of exploring, playing, hunting, digging, running, and chasing, it requires regular physical and mental activity, preferably in a safe place. Likewise, the Kerry Blue’s personality is multi-faceted. The dog remains well-mannered indoors, happy to welcome known friends but reserved toward strangers.

This clever and independent terrier is also aggressive towards small animals and other dogs, and is prone to stubbornness and fits of barking.


The Kerry Blue should be able to spend time lots of time with its family, both outdoors and indoors. Exercise is required for the breed, but this can be accomplished with a vigorous game, a leash-led walk, or a nice romp in the backyard.

Coat care consists of combing twice a week and shaping and clipping at least once a month. The Kerry Blue’s ears will also need to be trained during its early stages of development so that its ears will be properly shaped as an adult.


The Kerry Blue Terrier, which has a lifespan of 12 to 15 years, may suffer from clotting factor XI deficiency and retinal folds. It is also prone to minor health problems like cataract, entropion, Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (KCS), canine hip dysplasia (CHD), spiculosis, otitis externa, and hair follicle tumors, and a major issues such as cerebellar abiotrophy. To identify some of these issues, a veterinarian may run hip and eye exams on the dog.

History and Background

Originating in the mountainous regions of western and southern Ireland, the Kerry Blue Terrier was known as the resourceful farm dog for over a hundred years. It could hunt vermin, birds, and small game, retrieve both in water and on land, and even herd cattle and sheep. Making it rather peculiar that this versatile and striking breed was kept an Irish secret until the early 20th century.

The Kerry Blue terrier was introduced to American and English dog shows in the 1920s and was formally recognized in 1924. Once groomed, the Kerry Blue is renowned as one of the most attractive and stunning show dogs, though it is only moderately popular as a house pet. The Kerry Blue is also good at trailing, police work, and anything that uses its athletic and hunting abilities.

Watery Eyes (Epiphora) in Dogs

What are Watery Eyes in Dogs?

Epiphora is the medical term for the clear, watery substance that drains from a dog’s eyes that looks like excessive tears. You may notice that the moisture leads to a red-brown discoloration of the fur around their eyes. The discoloration is from a normal pigment in tears called porphyrin, and can lead to staining that is especially noticeable in dogs with white fur.

Normal tear production is important to keep your dog’s eyes lubricated. Extra tears are stored in the tear ducts in the corner of dogs’ eyes near their nose. When the eyes are irritated by dust, hair, pollen, or other irritants, the stored tears can help to flush the particles from their eyes.

Watery eyes are very common in dogs and are associated with things that irritate the eye and abnormal drainage of tears, or they may simply be normal for the dog’s breed.  A pet parent should seek veterinary care if the discharge is greenish-yellow and their dog is squinting. This may indicate an eye injury.

Symptoms of Watery Eyes in Dogs

Excessive tearsReddish-brown discoloration of the fur under the eyesRubbing, pawing at the eyesGlassy eyesDampness under the eyes

Why Does My Dog Only Have One Watery Eye?

Epiphora can affect one or both eyes. It is more common for both eyes to be affected. Occasionally a dog will have an irritant (like an ingrown hair on the eyelid) that rubs only one eye. Sometimes a nasolacrimal duct, which runs from the eyes to the nose, will become plugged on only one side, leading to abnormal drainage of tears.

Green-yellow drainage and squinting of one eye can also be signs of a corneal ulcer. If your dog has drainage from one eye that is not watery or obviously clear, and is accompanied by squinting or pain, they need to be seen by a veterinarian right away.

Causes of Watery Eyes in Dogs

Epiphora is usually caused by conditions that irritate the eye, the abnormal drainage of tears, or because that breed tends to have watery eyes.

Several conditions can cause acute (sudden) or chronic (long-term) irritation to the eyes. The following are some of the more common conditions leading to irritation of the eyes and subsequent watery eyes:

Allergies: Pollen and dust are common eye irritants.Eyelash abnormality: There are several different eyelash abnormalities where the eyelash either is ingrown (trichiasis), grows from an abnormal spot (distichiasis) or grows on the inside of the eyelid (ectopic cilia).Eyelid abnormality: Sometimes a dog can be born with eyelids that are either rolled in (entropion) or rolled out (ectropion) too much. This can result in the skin and/or hair rubbing on the eye or excessive drying of the eye and subsequent tearing.Prolapsed third eyelid: This condition is commonly referred to as “cherry eye” and occurs when the gland of the third eyelid comes out of the pocket it normally sits in.Small eyelid masses: These are quite common and can rub on the surface of the eye, leading to chronic irritation.Viruses: Some viruses can cause irritation and watery eyes.Glaucoma: Glaucoma occurs when the pressure inside the eye is too high. This can result in excessive tearing as well.Abnormal drainage of tears: occurs when tears cannot drain out of the eyes normally. This forces them to back up and causes watery eyes. Normally, dogs have a small duct that runs from the inner corner of the eye out the nose.

The following conditions can lead to abnormal drainage of tears and subsequent watery eyes:

Shallow eye sockets: Some breeds have large, bulging eyes and very shallow eye sockets. This can result in tears overflowing, because there is not enough room in the eye socket for the tears produced to be stored.Plugged nasolacrimal duct: The duct that runs from the inner eye to the nose can become clogged with debris or become inflamed or infected.Imperforate puncta: Some dogs are born without a normal nasolacrimal duct opening to the eye. This condition is called imperforate puncta, and is more commonly seen in Cocker Spaniels. When the tears do not flow out normally, they become backed up and leak from the eyes, leading to epiphora.

Watery eyes can be normal for a breed due to genetics. Some breeds of dog (such as Poodles, Shih Tzu, and Pekingese) can have epiphora with normal nasolacrimal systems and no obvious irritants.

How Veterinarians Diagnose Watery Eyes in Dogs

Veterinarians diagnose epiphora with a physical exam. Your vet may decide to measure the amount of tears produced using a method called the Schirmer tear test. A small absorbent strip is placed within the lower eyelid for one minute.

If your vet suspects an eye injury, they may check for scratches (corneal ulcers) by staining the cornea with fluorescein. Your vet may also check the pressure in your dog’s eyes using tonometry, in which a hand-held probe gently touches the eye’s surface. This painless procedure checks for glaucoma.

Treatment of Watery Eyes in Dogs

Treatment is varied, based on the underlying cause of your dog’s watery eyes. If irritation from allergies, like pollen, is the cause, your veterinarian may recommend an antihistamine along with artificial tear drops to flush the eyes. If there is an abnormality like an ingrown eyelash, rolled eyelid, or eyelid mass, surgery may be recommended to correct the problem.

In some cases, no treatment is required if the excessive tearing is the result of shallow eye sockets or a normal condition for that breed. For these dogs, gently wiping the tear tracts regularly with gentle wipes, like Optixcare® Eye Cleaning Wipes, can be helpful to avoid accumulation of debris and secondary bacterial infections.

Recovery and Management of Watery Eyes in Dogs

Some conditions that cause watery eyes in dogs can be treated and carry a good prognosis for recovery. Chronic irritation from eyelid or eyelash abnormalities can be resolved with surgery.

Allergies do not have a cure and are instead managed long term. Allergies may be seasonal or year-round and can be treated with various allergy medications, from over-the-counter antihistamines to prescription medications like Apoquel® or Cytopoint®.

In breeds that are genetically prone to watery eyes with no abnormalities of the nasolacrimal system, the condition can only be managed. While the eyes will continue to produce excess tears, the goal is to prevent moisture on the skin from growing bacteria and the development of secondary skin infections.

These dogs may require regular wiping of the tear tracts with gentle wipes that are labeled for dogs. Angels’ Eyes® Tear Stain Wipes are commonly used for routine cleansing and to minimize tear staining. Sometimes medicated products, like Douxo® Antiseptic Antifungal Wipes, are used to reduce overgrowth of yeast and bacteria.

Remember, it is important to prevent any of these products from getting in your dog’s eyes and to only cleanse the skin beneath the eye where the tears fall.

Watery Eyes in Dogs FAQs

Should I be worried if my dog’s eye is watering?

If your dog’s eyes are watering, but they appear comfortable and are not squinting, make sure to bring it up during your next wellness appointment. If your dog has watery eyes with squinting, decreased appetite, lethargy, or other signs of illness, seek veterinary care immediately.

Are watery eyes painful for dogs?

Most of the time, epiphora is not a painful condition. Occasionally, dogs may experience some mild discomfort or itchy eyes from chronic irritation.

Will allergies cause watery eyes in dogs?

Allergies are a common cause of watery eyes in dogs.

Featured Image: de Andres Jimenez


Brooks W. Runny Eyes (Epiphora) in Dogs. Veterinary Partner. 2023.

Gerding P, Williams D. Epiphora in dogs. Vetlexicon.

de Oliveira JK, Montiani-Ferreira F, Williams D. The influence of the tonometer position on canine intraocular pressure measurements using the Tonovet® rebound tonometer. Open Veterinary Journal. 2018;8(1):68-76.

MacLaren N. Management of tear film disorders in the dog and cat. DVM360. 2008.

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Melissa Boldan, DVM


Dr. Melissa Boldan graduated from the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine in 2012. She initially practiced mixed animal…

Abscesses in Dogs

What are Abscesses in Dogs?

An abscess is a pocket of inflammation that typically has a “wall” of tissue surrounding it. The center is filled with either thick liquid or solid material consisting of white blood cells, dead tissue, and sometimes bacteria.  

There are four common locations for abscesses in dogs. 

Teeth: In a dental abscess, there is infection involving the root of a tooth. The bony socket surrounding the affected root is usually eaten away by the infection, and the surrounding gum is inflamed. 

Skin: Trauma from a bite, a splinter, or something sharp your dog has stepped on can insert bacteria and other foreign debris under the skin. As the wound heals, it may seal up quickly, trapping bacteria and/or debris and leading to the formation of a fluid-filled, inflamed, painful lump.  

A hot spot (acute moist dermatitis) is a type of abscess that forms on the surface of the skin, commonly because of skin allergies. The area becomes itchy, and the dog traumatizes it by chewing or licking excessively. The skin can become infected with bacteria and/or yeast. 

Anal sac: There are internal sacs on either side of the anus that normally contain a fluid that is emptied when a dog has a bowel movement. If the liquid substance becomes too thick to drain properly, the anal sac is never emptied. The fluid continues to accumulate, and the sac becomes inflamed. 

Infected neoplastic mass: A cancerous mass can become abscessed if it outgrows its blood supply. Sometimes the mass will be unchanged for an extended period, then suddenly become painful and inflamed. 

Symptoms of Abscesses in Dogs

Depending on the site of the abscess, a dog may exhibit different signs: 

Dental abscesses are painful and may also be associated with an odor or drool (sometimes blood-tinged). A dog with a dental abscess may not be eating normally and may prefer soft food over hard food or treats. Avid chewers may stop chewing toys and bones they once enjoyed. There may also be facial swelling in the region of the affected tooth.   

Skin abscesses are painful, warm, soft, or firm lumps. If the abscess is on a paw or leg, you may notice your dog limping. Your dog may cry out or wince if you touch the abscess site. 

Anal sac abscess pain may result in a dog licking excessively under the tail, scooting on the floor, or straining to have a bowel movement. If the anal sac has ruptured through the skin, you may notice drainage from the site. 

Causes of Abscesses in Dogs

Dental abscesses 

Dental disease—tartar accumulation and gingival inflammation 

Fractured (broken) tooth, with bacteria invading the pulp cavity 

Foreign material stuck in the mouth, such as bone pieces, sticks, metal, plant material, hair 

Skin abscesses  

Any type of penetrating trauma, such as bite wounds or stepping on a foreign object 

Excessive licking or chewing due to skin allergies 

Anal sac abscesses 

Thick anal sac material blocking the duct (tube) through which the anal sac empties 

How Veterinarians Diagnose Abscesses in Dogs

Abscesses are typically identified during a physical exam. If a firm lump is found, your vet may perform a fine needle aspirate, which involves inserting a needle into the mass to collect cells. The sample is then evaluated under a microscope to determine what type of cells are present. Abscess samples contain a lot of white blood cells, and bacteria or fungal organisms may be seen.  

If an abscess does not respond to initial treatment, fluid or material from the site can be put in the incubator to culture (grow) the bacteria involved. Then, antibiotics are tested to see which will be most effective. Bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics can be found in dogs, just as in humans. 

Treatment of Abscesses in Dogs

There are multiple treatment options a veterinarian may recommend depending on the dog’s diagnosis. One option includes opening and draining the site and removing the source of infection. This may involve extraction of an abscessed tooth, removal of foreign material stuck under the skin, or flushing the anal sac duct to re-open it.  

Simple skin abscesses may be addressed under local anesthesia, depending on the location. Complicated sites (especially the face) or involved cases (such as dental or large abscesses) will be addressed under general anesthesia. For cleaning hot spots, trimming away the hair can often be done without any form of anesthesia. There are some hot spots, however, that are very painful, and the dog may benefit from sedation for clipping/cleaning of the site. 

Often, oral antibiotics are administered to a dog with an abscess. Pain medication, including an anti-inflammatory medication, is also important. Also, warm compresses applied to a painful, inflamed site help to enhance blood flow and clean the area. This is frequently recommended for the pet parent to do at home for several days. 

Recovery and Management of Abscesses in Dogs

Usually, once the cause of the abscess is addressed and the dog is on appropriate treatment, an abscess starts to resolve quickly, within 2-3 days. The dog should start feeling better quickly as well.

Your vet will likely want to recheck your dog a week or two into treatment to see how the abscess site looks. For long-term management, your vet will make recommendations regarding future dental care (for a dental abscess), routine anal sac expression (for an anal sac abscess), and skin allergy management (for hot spots).  

Abscesses in Dogs FAQs

Can an abscess be fatal for a dog?

External abscesses are not usually fatal. Internal abscesses, such as inside the chest or abdomen, are more likely to be.

Is a dog abscess an emergency?

External abscesses do not usually need to be seen on emergency basis.

Will a dog abscess heal on its own?

Small skin abscesses may break open, drain, and heal on their own. However, it is best to have a vet look to see if there is a possible underlying cause that needs to be addressed.

Can an abscess spread?

An abscess may get larger over time, but it does not usually spread to another area of the body.

Are abscesses painful for dogs?


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Heidi Kos-Barber, DVM


I am a small animal general practitioner in western Washington. The clinic I have worked at for the past 14 years sees a variety of…

Arrhythmias after Blunt Heart Trauma in Dogs

Traumatic Myocarditis in Dogs

Traumatic myocarditis is the term applied to the syndrome of arrhythmias – irregular heartbeats – that sometimes complicates a blunt trauma injury to the heart.  It is a misnomer, because heart muscle injuries are more likely to take the form of cell death than inflammation (as the term myocarditis suggests). Direct heart injury may not be necessary for development of post traumatic arrhythmia. Non-heart related conditions are likely to have equal or greater importance in causing arrhythmias.

The prevalence of serious arrhythmias after blunt trauma is relatively low but some patients develop clinically important rhythm disturbances following  trauma to the heart. Therefore, the heart rhythm of all victims of trauma should be carefully assessed.

Ventricular tachyarrhythmias (abnormal patterns of electrical heart beat activity starting in the ventricles) occur in most affected patients. Ventricular rhythms that complicate blunt trauma are often relatively slow and are detected only during pauses in the normal rhythm. They are most appropriately referred to as accelerated idioventricular rhythms (AIVRs), which is recognized by a heart rate that is greater than 100 beats per minute (bpm) but generally less than 160 bpm. Usually, these rhythms are harmless. However, dangerous ventricular tachycardias can also complicate a blunt trauma and can also evolve from seemingly benign AIVRs, placing the patient at risk for sudden death.

Symptoms and Types

Suffered trauma 48 hours or less before signs appeared Possible arrhythmias Possible rapid, irregular rhythms Signs of poor blood flow to the body: Weakness Pale gums


Blunt trauma, most often road accidents Low oxygen in the blood Autonomic (the part of the nervous system that regulates involuntary action, like digestion, heart beat, etc.) imbalance Electrolyte imbalances Acid-base disturbances


Your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical exam on your pet, taking into account the background history of symptoms and possible incidents that might have led to this condition. A complete blood profile will be conducted, including a chemical blood profile, a complete blood count, a urinalysis and an electrolyte panel. Blood tests can be done to check for high serum troponin concentrations, a protein that is involved in the regulation of cardiac muscle contractions, which would suggest myocardial necrosis.

Arterial blood gas analysis and pulse oximetry should be used to determine if the patient is lacking in blood oxygen (hypoxemic). Further diagnostic testing will include X-ray imaging to determine the type of traumatic injuries that are present, and electrocardiogram (ECG) to analyze the ventricular arrhythmias.


Your dog will be given fluid therapy with electrolytes (if needed) and prescribed painkillers. Oxygen therapy should be given if your dog is hypoxemic. If pneumothorax (air free in the chest cavity – outside the lungs) is present, it will be treated. Antiarrhythmic therapy will only be given if your dog has AIVRs and clinical signs of arrhythmia.

Living and Management

Arrhythmias due to blunt trauma tend to resolve spontaneously within 2-3 days of the beginning of treatment. Anti-arrhythmic therapy can be discontinued after 2-5 days.Although dangerous arrhythmias occasionally complicate blunt trauma, the prognosis for a full recovery usually depends on the severity of extracardiac (outside the heart) injury.