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  • Writer's pictureClayton Watkins, DVM

7 Signs Your Dog Has Something Stuck in Its Nose: What To Do Next

If you've noticed your dog suddenly sneezing uncontrollably, pawing at its nose, or appearing agitated, your furry friend might be dealing with a nasal foreign body. Before you panic, it's essential to know what this means, how it can be prevented, and what steps you can take for removal and aftercare. This comprehensive guide will cover all these aspects in detail.

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What is a Nasal Foreign Body in a Dog?

A nasal foreign body refers to any object that is not supposed to be in a dog's nasal passages but has somehow made its way in. It can be anything from a grass seed, twig, piece of food to a small toy. These foreign bodies can cause significant discomfort and lead to infections if not treated promptly.

Anatomy of the Dog's Nose

  • Nasal Passageway: This is the channel that allows airflow through the nasal cavity.

  • Nasal Cavity: The space above the roof of the mouth from the nostrils to the nasopharynx.

  • Nasal Turbinates: Folds within the nasal cavity of thin bone and cartilage covered with mucosa. Turbinates increase surface area allowing for temperature regulation, moistening of air and filtering tiny particulates from the air before entering the lungs. Olfactory (smell) nerve endings are located in the turbinates in the most caudal area of the nasal cavity.

Risks and Complications

  • Infections: The presence of a foreign body can promote bacterial overgrowth or fungal infection.

  • Rhinosinusitis: Inflammation of the nasal cavity or sinuses may occur due to a chronic foreign body. Inflammation may become severe resulting in destruction of the normal structures within the nasal cavity.

  • Scar Tissue: Some inflammatory reactions around a foreign body by result in scar tissue and nasal obstruction.

Can You Prevent Dogs From Getting Things Stuck in Their Noses?

Preventing your dog from getting a nasal foreign body can be challenging, as dogs are naturally curious animals who like to sniff and explore their surroundings.

Environmental Control

  1. Secure Your Yard: Ensure that small objects, which can be sniffed up into the nose, are not lying around. Remove June grass to eliminate the seeds (foxtails) from being inhaled into the nasal cavity.

  2. Indoor Precautions: Keep small toys, beads, or anything that can fit into a nostril out of your dog's reach.

Behavioral Training

  1. Leave it Command: Train your dog to understand and obey commands like 'Leave it' to prevent them from sniffing or eating something they shouldn't.

  2. Walking on Leash: Keeping your dog on a leash during walks can help you have better control, preventing them from sticking their nose into weeds where it doesn't belong.


7 Signs Your Dog Might Have Something Stuck in Its Nose

If you're concerned that your dog might have a nasal foreign body, there are several symptoms and behaviors to watch for. Identifying these signs early can help you seek timely medical intervention, reducing the risk of complications such as infection, tissue destruction or scarring. Here are seven key signs that may indicate your dog has something stuck in its nose:

1. Frequent Sneezing

When your dog can't stop sneezing, it might be more than just a tickle in their nose; it could be a sign of a foreign object lodged inside.

What to Look For: Sudden onset of sneezing that is more frequent than usual.

What to Do: Pay attention to whether the sneezing subsides or persists, as constant sneezing is a strong indicator something is wrong. If sneezing persists, seek veterinary care.

2. Pawing at the Nose or Face

If your dog is incessantly scratching or rubbing its nose, it could be an attempt to dislodge something irritating or painful.

What to Look For: Your dog may use its paw to scratch or rub its nose frequently, often with some urgency.

What to Do: Gently examine the nose for any visible foreign objects or signs of distress. Seek veterinary care.

3. Nasal Discharge

Unexplained, persistent nasal discharge can indicate that your dog may have a foreign body in its nasal passage, leading to mucus build-up.

What to Look For: Unusual discharge from one or both nostrils, which may be clear and watery to yellow/green and mucoid.

What to Do: If the discharge continues or is bloody, seek veterinary care.

4. Noisy Breathing or Snorting

Changes in the sound of your dog's breathing, particularly snoring or wheezing, might indicate that something is obstructing normal airflow.

What to Look For: Audible noise while your dog breathes, such as snoring or wheezing, that wasn't present before.

What to Do: Seed veterinary care.

5. Reduced Appetite or Difficulty Eating

A sudden disinterest in food, or difficulty when trying to eat, can sometimes be linked to discomfort or distress caused by a nasal foreign body.

What to Look For: A lack of interest in food, or apparent difficulty in eating or drinking.

What to Do: Take note if your dog seems to be struggling to eat or drink, consult a veterinarian.

6. Blood from the Nose

While nosebleeds can be caused by various factors, seeing blood specifically from one nostril may suggest a foreign object is to blame. Other causes for a bloody nose include high blood pressure, a bleeding disorder, severe inflammation and a tumor.

What to Look For: Blood coming from one nostril is a red flag that something is wrong within the nasal passageway.

What to Do: Seek immediate veterinary attention if you notice any blood coming from your dog's nose.

7. Visible Foreign Object

Spotting an actual object sticking out from your dog's nostril is a clear-cut sign of a nasal foreign body and warrants immediate veterinary attention.

What to Look For: In some cases, the foreign object may be partially visible, sticking out from the nostril.

What to Do: Do not attempt to remove the object yourself as you may push it further in. Take your dog to the vet immediately.

If your dog exhibits one or more of these symptoms, consult a veterinarian for a thorough examination. The veterinarian may use diagnostic tools like endoscopy to identify the foreign body and remove it.

How Nasal Foreign Bodies Are Diagnosed in Dogs

In cases where you suspect your dog might have a nasal foreign body, accurate and timely diagnosis is important for the best outcome. Understanding the various diagnostic options can provide you with insights into what to expect at the vet's office.

Physical Examination

The first step in diagnosing a nasal foreign body usually involves a thorough physical examination by a veterinarian. During this check-up, the vet may manually open the dog's nostrils to inspect the nasal passages for any visible signs of obstruction. This can sometimes be enough to identify foreign objects like grass seeds, pebbles, or food particles that are easily visible and accessible.


The "gold standard" for identifying a nasal foreign body is rhinoscopy. Under general anesthesia, a small diameter endoscope is inserted into the nose through the nostrils to directly visualize the nasal passageways. Rhinoscopy is highly effective for identifying an nasal foreign body and guide its removal.

X-rays and Imaging

If a foreign object is not visualized during rhinoscopy, imaging techniques such as a CT scan may be employed. CT provides a more detailed look at the nasal passages and may identify problems not visible using an endoscope.

Nasal Culture

In some cases, especially when an infection is present, a sample of the discharge may be obtained for culture. Nasal culture can identify the disease causing bacteria and guide the veterinarian in prescribing the appropriate antibiotics. Nearly all nasal infections are secondary to some other underlying problem such as a nasal foreign body.

Blood Tests

While blood tests may not directly diagnose a nasal foreign body, they can provide valuable information about the dog's overall health and immune response. Elevated white blood cell counts can indicate an ongoing infection or inflammation, which could be secondary to the presence of a foreign object in the nose.

Each of these diagnostic options offers its own set of advantages and limitations, and sometimes a combination of methods is needed for a conclusive diagnosis. Once the foreign object is identified, it can be removed placing your dog on the road to recovery.

Treatment Options For Nasal Foreign Bodies in Dogs

When it comes to treating nasal foreign bodies in dogs, the primary goal is to safely and efficiently remove the object causing the obstruction or discomfort. Various treatment approaches can be employed depending on the nature of the foreign body, its location, and any accompanying complications. Here are some of the common treatment options:

Manual Removal

Manual removal is often the first line of treatment when the foreign object is visible and easily accessible. The veterinarian may use specialized instruments like forceps to grasp and extract the object. This procedure is generally quick but may require sedation or anesthesia to keep the dog calm and still.

Endoscopic Removal

For objects that are not visible or accessible through a simple manual examination, endoscopic removal is necessary. Under general anesthesia, a small diameter endoscope is inserted into the dog's nasal cavity through the nostril to locate and remove the object using small, specialized tools. This method allows for a more precise and less invasive removal.

Flushing or Irrigation

Sometimes, the foreign object can be dislodged by flushing the nasal passages with a saline solution while under general anesthesia. This is often used for small pieces of food.


If the foreign object has led to an infection or severe inflammation, medication such as antibiotics or anti-inflammatories may be prescribed in conjunction with other treatments. These medications can help control the symptoms and speed up the healing process once the foreign object has been removed.

Choosing the right treatment option often involves a thorough diagnosis and a careful evaluation of the risks and benefits of each approach. A tailored treatment plan will be developed to suit the specific needs of your dog, ensuring the best possible outcome.

VetMed Treats Nasal Foreign Bodies in Dogs

When your dog is in distress due to a nasal foreign body, quick and expert care is crucial for a successful outcome. At VetMed, we specialize in handling such intricate issues with state-of-the-art diagnostic tools and minimally invasive treatment options. Our team is skilled in procedures such as endoscopic removal, which allows for a safer, more efficient way to deal with nasal obstructions. With our focus on the comfort and well-being of your pet, you can rest assured that your dog is in the best hands for treating nasal foreign bodies.


Questions You've Asked Us About Nasal Foreign Bodies in Dogs

Still have questions? Contact us here - we promise we'll answer them.

What if my dog has grass stuck in his nose?

If you suspect your dog has grass or another foreign object stuck in his nose, seek immediate veterinary attention to prevent complications like infection or further discomfort.

How do you get something out of a dog's nose?

Why does my dog sound like he has something in his nose?

What are the symptoms of a blocked nose in dogs?

Why has my dog suddenly started sneezing?

1 commentaire

21 nov. 2023

Very helpful information. Thanks! Made vet appt.

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