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Our dog has had severe nasal congestion since the beginning of the year. So much so that when he lays his head down to rest, his airway seems to close causing him to jerk himself away and gasp for air. There has been minimal discharge from the nose, but when it comes, it's very thick and clear/light yellow. He's exhausted and the poor thing only seems to catnap occasionally throughout the day for minutes at a time.

We've been to the vet 6 times since January. We've ruled out allergies, flu/cold, collapsing trachea, and airway blockage. Blood tests came back negative for cancer. He's been on antibiotics and allergy meds to no result. We have 2 weeks in a 6-week treatment for nasal mites left to go and the vet will reassess once that treatment is complete. In the meantime, all I can do is worry and feel helpless. (and lock the dog in the bathroom with me while the shower is on-- steam therapy, the vet calls it)

I'm wondering: has any other member of this forum had a similar experience? Any advice or words of comfort?
 

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Talk to your Vet about a referral to a specialist, pulmonologist, perhaps. If your Vet is stymied, time to get another, or more Vets involved.
 

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Thank you for your quick reply! We are just beginning to collect second opinions and ask for specialist referrals. I guess what I'm hoping for (perhaps in false hope) is for another owner to tell me that they had a similar experience and share their findings with me...so I can have a happy ending option to dwell upon as opposed to the worst-case scenario.
 

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I personally haven't had this experience, but my friend has an older cat that had weeks or months of a mystery "sinus infection" with lumps on her neck, congestion, minimal runny nose, refusing to eat much and acting like it was painful to swallow. She had numerous vet visits and courses of antibiotics and other meds and improved but not enough. She kept relapsing and getting lumps on her neck, like cysts or abscesses.
Finally my friend brought her in again and this time the vet found some thread in the exam and an x ray showed the poor cat had swallowed a tiny sewing needle and thread weeks ago when my friend was hired for a new job and was hemming a few pairs of work pants. She'd assumed that because the cat was a bit older she wouldn't play or get into anything dangerous. I can only imagine the pain the poor thing was on for so long.
Minor surgery removed the needle and the cat immediately felt much better.

Could the dog have swallowed something small that wouldn't easily show up but be distressing?
My dog eats everything he can find off floors in public places and at the dog park. Drives me nuts and I'm constantly fishing things out of his mouth and telling him to "LEAVE IT" or "DROP IT".
 

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To add to the great advice here, try to get the dog's complete medical records, including xray pics and lab results, whatever you have done. While we often like to think of such things as "indisputable", there is room for error in their interpretation. In addition, providing these documents will save a lot of legwork and money, which is useful for issues like this.

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My dachshund Annie spent much of the second half of her life (from probably 10 til 18 years) with a chronically snotty nose. We were able to determine via culture that she had a staph (not MRSA) infection at one point, but despite numerous lengthy courses of supposedly effective antibiotics, it never fully resolved, so there may have been other factors at work as well. Her snot would vary between clear/white to nuclear green depending on the day, and was usually fairly thick. I was reluctant to pursue extensive diagnostics- rhinoscopy, MRI/advanced imaging- due to her age (not knowing she would live almost another decade!) and cost, and the fact that she never seemed particularly bothered by it. She breathed fine, slept fine, and played ball until she was 15+, despite her snotty nose. My vet told me that possible causes for the continued issues could be structural abnormalities like scar tissue, or a polyp or tumor causing a stricture- though he seemed to think that was less likely due to both nostrils snotting equally; an undetected dental issue (she had regular dental cleanings, but no dental rads); possibly a foreign body causing irritation/immune response; maybe a fungal or viral component, though neither of those were detected on the culture we did; or maybe just an immune insufficiency that never really let her beat the initial infection.

In your position I would see about having a sample of the nasal discharge cultured, to see if there's any clear infectious cause. Barring that, I think you will likely get the "best" answers by seeing a specialist (internal med), as they can help you decide which tests to prioritize to figure out what's up.

If you are in an area with foxtails or other seeds that tend to embed themselves in tissue, that is something to look into as well, as a foreign body can definitely cause prolonged and unresolveable nasal discharge.
 

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Just some comments about chronic upper respiratory conditions in dogs... NOT easy to diagnose in many cases.

There are no blood tests that rule out cancer and the vast majority of cancers do not show up on a blood test anyway. About the only way to rule out cancer in causing an upper respiratory problem is to get an MRI or cat scan and have that declared normal by a specialist, or have discovered abnormalities biopsied. Problem with that is other 'things' can show up on those tests that can be causing chronic sinus problems (polyps, fungi, foreign bodies (as the needle that was mentioned above), chronic scarring of nasal passages from some source of injury or infection (dental infections can cause this situation).

Culturing bacteria is another tricky situation as there are LOTs of normal bacterial living in the sinuses (including MRSPs)... unless the culture is taken from deep within the sinuses (very hard to get there) a culture is not very useful as there is rarely any way of knowing the bacteria retrieved have anything to do with what's going on, or just happened to be 'hanging out' in the sinuses, as so many non-pathogenic or accidentally introduced bacteria do.

Over the years I have seen hundreds of undiagnosed upper respiratory problems in dogs, many which remain so despite everything that could be done inexpensively to find out what's going on... if one has unlimited funds, there is a better chance if figuring out the situations, but even then it's no guarantee.

I have seen hundreds of foxtails up noses, probably nearly as many needles, splinters, polyps, fungal infections, tumors, grass or other plant materials lodged up there (aside from foxtails), tooth root abscesses, skull injuries...and many more that we just treated symptomatically to some degree of success (or limited success) so that at least the pet could continue breathing and have a decent quality of life... but have also sent many more frustrating cases on to specialists.

And now there is the dog flu, too, though have not seen a single case of that yet. At least that condition is self limiting and goes away with or without treatment eventually.
 

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Our dog has had severe nasal congestion since the beginning of the year. So much so that when he lays his head down to rest, his airway seems to close causing him to jerk himself away and gasp for air. There has been minimal discharge from the nose, but when it comes, it's very thick and clear/light yellow. He's exhausted and the poor thing only seems to catnap occasionally throughout the day for minutes at a time.

We've been to the vet 6 times since January. We've ruled out allergies, flu/cold, collapsing trachea, and airway blockage. Blood tests came back negative for cancer. He's been on antibiotics and allergy meds to no result. We have 2 weeks in a 6-week treatment for nasal mites left to go and the vet will reassess once that treatment is complete. In the meantime, all I can do is worry and feel helpless. (and lock the dog in the bathroom with me while the shower is on-- steam therapy, the vet calls it)

I'm wondering: has any other member of this forum had a similar experience? Any advice or words of comfort?
Hi, I'm having the same issue with my 8 year old Doxie. Does you find out what was causing this?
 
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