Why Does My Shih Tzu Have a Runny Nose? (Signs of Sinus Infections)

why my shih tzu has a runny nose

Although us humans are inclined to have a sniffle or two during the winter months, seeing your beloved Shih Tzu with a runny nose can be a lot more alarming. This is particularly true given that Shih Tzus are inclined to have breathing issues, so seeing a runny nose can make owners think there’s a serious health issue.

However, this isn’t always the case. Yes, Shih Tzus can get congested with cold and suffer with sinus infections, but a runny nose doesn’t always mean something bad. Whilst it is true that the generations of breeding have made Shih Tzus’ nasal passages less than ideal, don’t be panicked by a runny nose… and here’s why:

Do Shih Tzus have runny noses?

Why does my Shih Tzu have a runny nose? Shih Tzus do have runny noses, and it’s normal for a small amount of clear snot to be coming from their nose most of the time. Because Shih Tzu noses are short and flat, things like snot are a lot more visible compared to other dog breeds.

When it comes to your Shih Tzu’s runny nose, it is important to establish what is normal for them, as every individual animal has a slightly different definition of normal. If your Shih Tzu is producing a noticeably larger amount of snot than before, or it changes colour to yellow or green, you should take stock of those abnormalities and take them to see a vet.

Can Shih Tzus get sinus infections?

Shih Tzus can get sinus infections more than other breeds due to the way in which their nasal passages and skulls are formed.

The unique look of Shih Tzus has been bred extensively down the years but does mean they can suffer with breathing issues and nasal / sinus infections more than other breeds might.

The causes and treatments for Shih Tzu runny noses

The medical term for runny noses in dogs is nasal discharge, and this refers not just to snot, but also blood, fluid and anything else that comes out of your Shih Tzu’s nose.

There are many reasons why your Shih Tzu may have a runny nose or your Shih Tzu sounds congested, and whilst some can be treated at home yourself, others need urgent medical attention from your vet.

This makes it important that you distinguish between the different reasons why your Shih Tzu may have a runny nose, with some of the most common reasons being listed below.

1. Allergies

Just like humans, Shih Tzus can suffer from allergies too. It is one of the most common reasons behind an abnormally runny nose.

Shih Tzus can be allergic to all kinds of things, with some examples including pollen, chemicals, food and even our shed human skin (called dander)! But this list is far from exhaustive.


If a Shih Tzu is suffering from allergies, they may display some of the following symptoms:

  • Lots of clear nasal discharge.
  • Eye discharge (sometimes becoming red)
  • Itchiness.
  • Nose bleeds.
  • Coughing.
  • Struggling to breathe.


If your vet suspects your Shih Tzu has an allergy, they will perform an allergy test in order to confirm it. Once the allergy is confirmed, you will be able to reduce allergic reactions by avoiding the allergy trigger altogether.

However, if this isn’t possible, your vet can prescribe antihistamines, steroids and immunosuppressants amongst other kinds of medication.

2. Nasal blockages

If the nasal discharge is just coming from one nostril, this could mean that there is a foreign object (like a piece of grit or a blade of grass) partly blocking your Shih Tzu’s nasal passage.


As well as this isolated nasal discharge, other common signs of a blockage in the nose include nosebleeds, sneezing and pawing at the nose.


Here, you have a choice of either treating the blockage at home or at the vets. If you can see the cause of the blockage and have a steady hand, you can probably remove the blockage yourself with tweezers.

However, if your Shih Tzu is fidgety or the cause of the blockage isn’t immediately visible, it is probably best to take them to the vets. The inside of the nose is incredibly sensitive, so even a small cut could lead to a lot of bleeding.

If you take your Shih Tzu to the vets, they’ll be sedated, have the source of the blockage removed and be prescribed antibiotics to avoid infection.

3. Polyps and tumours

Some Shih Tzus have excessive nasal discharge as a result of growths in their nose. Nasal polyps are the medical term for overgrown mucus-producing glands, whilst nasal tumours, which present similar symptoms, can be benign or cancerous.


If you suspect your Shih Tzu has growths in the nose, look out for the following symptoms:

  • Blood, pus and mucus being discharged from the nose.
  • A decreased appetite.
  • A bulge on the side of the nose that wasn’t there before.
  • Noisy breathing.


Of course, if you see any kind of growth on your Shih Tzu, it is paramount that you take them to the vets to be assessed.

Polyps and benign nasal tumours are often treated with surgery. Given the fact that polyps tend to reappear, your Shih Tzu may need multiple bouts of surgery.

Unfortunately, whilst cancerous nasal tumours can be treated with radiation, they are inoperable and don’t have a great prognosis.

Handy Hint: I’ve written the complete guide to taking care of your Shih Tzu in cold weather, as they can be very intolerant to cold winter days and nights.

4. Nasal and sinus infections

Shih Tzus can also catch infections. This may be from other animals or from coming into contact with something unsavoury outside. They can catch bacterial, fungal or viral infections.


Although symptoms may vary based on the type of infection, some of the most common symptoms of an infection in your Shih Tzu include:

  • Green or yellow mucus or pus being discharged from their nose, which is often followed by coughing and choking.
  • Nose bleeds.
  • A pungent and unusual odor.


Depending on the type of infection, your vet’s treatment plan may vary.

If your Shih Tzu is suffering from a fungal infection, your vet will prescribe you specialist anti-fungal drugs, whereas if your Shih Tzu has a bacterial infection, your vet will put them on a course of antibiotics.

If your Shih Tzu ends up having frequent infections (which is often the result of a poor immune system, a lack of vaccinations or an underlying illness), your vet may decide that the best course of action is an operation.


Although your Shih Tzu may experience breathing complications due to their short, flat noses, their noses oftentimes work just as well as any other dog breed, so it’s important not to panic if you see them experiencing nasal discharge.

However, it is also important to trust your judgement if you think something is not right about the nasal discharge or runny nose.

It may be a different consistency, amount or colour than you’re used to or be one of many unusual symptoms your Shih Tzu is experiencing at that time.

It’s better to be safe than sorry, so if you aren’t fully confident about the cause of your Shih Tzu’s runny nose it is important to take them to the vets. With their help, your Shih Tzu will be back to their old selves in no time!

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If you are a Shih Tzu owner then here are a few other things to look out for in your pup:

Image in header via https://pixabay.com/photos/dog-puppy-canine-pet-domestic-17788/

Marc Aaron

I write about the things we've learned about owning dogs, the adventures we have, and any advice and tips we've picked up along the way.

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