Sinus Infections

Information to help with symptoms of sinus infections in cats and dogs such as bleeding and congestion

symptoms of sinus problems and infections in cats & dogs

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  1. What is a Sinus Infection?
  2. What Causes Sinus Infections?
  3. Diagnosing Sinus Infections
  4. Help for Sinus Infections

What is a Sinus Infection?

An animal’s sinuses are the air chambers in the bone behind the area above the eyes and behind the cheeks. A sinus infection occurs when the lining of the sinus passages in the nasal cavity become inflamed. This can be caused by inhaled bacteria, fungi and sometimes tooth abscesses. Normally, mucous cleans the bacteria and other particles that collect in the sinuses.

With the help of tiny hairs called cilia, mucous is moved out of sinuses so that it can drain into the nasal passages.

What Causes Sinus Infections?

When an animal has a cold or allergy attack, his or her sinuses become inflamed or infected and drainage cannot occur. Pets that suffer from allergies, asthma or have a weak immune system are more prone to sinus problems.

Bacterial or viral infection, allergies, changes in temperature, pollution and chemical fumes can worsen blocked sinuses. If left untreated, sinusitis can become serious and lead to eye infections. An animal with a sinus infection may experience pain or pressure in the forehead and around the eyes, stuffy or runny nose and even fever.

Diagnosing Sinus Infections

As a pet owner you may notice that your pet is sneezing - he or she may also have discharge from the eyes and nose. Animals may cough or gag due to a postnasal drip. Cats with a sinus infection may stop eating due to a decrease in their sense of smell – this is a serious consequence of sinus infection, as they can quickly become dehydrated and will need prompt veterinary attention.

If your pet has not had sinus issues before, you may want to take him or her to a vet for a check-up. The diagnosis of sinusitis is based on the animal’s physical symptoms, examination by a vet and medical history. Sometimes, x-rays may be ordered for a more accurate diagnosis.

Help for Sinus Infections

Sinus infections are usually treated with antibiotic drugs that are prescribed long-term in order to achieve penetration of the drug into the sinuses. Anti-inflammatory drugs are sometimes also used. Pets that are prone to recurrent sinus infections may be prescribed chronic medication for prevention.

Although antibiotics and anti-inflammatories may be useful in clearing the symptoms of sinus infection in pets, long-term usage is not always the best thing for your pet's overall health profile. Long-term use of anti-inflammatories may also lead to further complications, including stomach ulcers and other digestive problems.

With regard to the animal body – a strong immune system is key. If the immune system is working at optimum level, the less likely a sinus infection is to occur. 


There are a number of things that you can do to minimize episodes of
sinus infection for your pet and they include:
  • Feed your pet a healthy, well balanced diet that contains plenty of vegetables to boost the immune system
  • Try to increase the moisture and humidity in the air. This will help to promote drainage of the nasal passages. Try coaxing your pet into the bathroom while you take a hot shower (keeping doors and windows closed so it steams up).
  • Keep your pet’s nose clean. Use a warm soft washcloth to GENTLY wipe away dried mucous crusts from the nasal area – helping them to breathe easier.
  • Pamper your pet’s nose. Nasal drainage can irritate your pet’s sensitive nose. Try using damp cotton wool to gently clean the nose area and then dry it gently (pat using a soft cloth). You may also want to add a small amount of un-scented petroleum jelly – just make sure not to block the nostrils!
  • Encourage your pet to drink lots of water which prevents congestion, drains the mucous and increases moisture in the body
  • Practice good hygiene habits by washing your pets bowls thoroughly with hot water and natural soap
  • Try and minimize your pet’s contact with strays who may have colds or sniffles


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