Information to help with symptoms of canine and feline sinusitis and other sinus problems in cats and dogs.
Select a Topic
- What is Sinusitis?
- What Causes Sinusitis in Pets?
- Diagnosing Sinusitis
- Treatment for Pets for Sinusitis
- More Information on Sinusitis in Dogs and Cats
What is Sinusitis?
Sinusitis is inflammation in the lining of the sinuses. In animals, sinuses are the air chambers in the bone behind the cheeks and upper eye area. Sinus inflammation in a dog or cat can be caused by inhaling bacteria, exposure to fungi or even a tooth abscess.
What Causes Sinusitis?
Normally, mucous cleans the bacteria and other particles that collect in the sinuses. Tiny hairs called cilia help move mucous out of the sinuses so it can drain into the nasal passages. When an animal has a cold or allergy attack, the sinuses become inflamed and proper drainage cannot occur.
Pets that suffer from allergies, asthma or have a weakened immune system are more prone to sinus problems. Feline herpesvirus and feline calicivirus are upper respiratory infections that can increase susceptibility to other disease in cats.
Bacterial or viral infections, allergies, changes in temperature, pollution and chemical exposure can worsen blocked sinuses. Sinusitis can become serious and lead to eye infections if not treated promptly.
Common causes of sinusitis in cats and dogs include:
- Viral infection
- Bacterial infection
- Fungal infection
- Tooth abscess or other dental disease
- Neoplasia (abnormal tissue growth)
- Congenital abnormalities (e.g., cleft palate)
- Foreign body or object in nose
- Nasal polyps (nonmalignant tissue growth in nasal cavity)
Sneezing and nasal discharge are common symptoms of sinusitis in cats and dogs. Animals may cough or gag due to postnasal drip.
Cats with sinusitis may stop eating due to a decrease in their sense of smell. This is a serious consequence of sinusitis, because cats can become dehydrated and need prompt veterinary attention.
If your pet develops nasal or sinus problems, contact your veterinarian. A diagnosis of sinusitis is based on the animal’s physical symptoms, medical history and examination by a vet. Sometimes, X-rays or CT scans may be ordered for a more accurate diagnosis. A dental exam or blood work may be performed to determine the underlying cause of the sinusitis.
Common symptoms of sinusitis in dogs and cats:
- Facial deformity
- Loss of appetite (anorexia)
- Nasal discharge or runny nose (mucus)
- Decreased air flow in one or both nasal passages
- Reverse sneezing, when the animal takes in a gasp of air to pull discharge in the back of the nasal passages down into the throat
Treatment for Pets with Sinusitis
If your pet has clinicals signs of a bacterial infection, your vet will prescribe antibiotics. Antibiotics for sinus infections in cats and dogs are usually prescribed long term to achieve enough penetration into the sinuses. Anti-inflammatory drugs are sometimes used as well.
Pets that are prone to recurrent sinus infections may be prescribed preventative medication.
Although antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications may be useful, long term use must be with caution. There can be overall health impacts. Long-term use of anti-inflammatories may lead to side effects and complications, including stomach ulcers and other digestive problems.
To prevent sinusitis, rhinitis or upper respiratory infection, a strong immune system is key. If your pet’s immune system is working properly, sinusitis is less likely to occur.
To support your pet’s defenses against sinusitis, try a natural remedy like Sinu-Rite™ for Sinus Infection Symptoms. This natural medicine targets symptoms of allergy congestion and sinusitis in dogs and cats.
More Information on Sinusitis
To minimize your pet’s risk for sinusitis, there are several things you can do:
- Diet - Feed your cat or dog a healthy, well-balanced diet with plenty of vegetables to boost the immune system.
- Humidity – Keep moisture and humidity in the air to help promote drainage of the nasal passages. A humidifier helps add moisture to the air. Or, take your pet in the bathroom while it’s steamy from a hot shower.
- Cleanse – Keep your pet’s nose clean. With a soft washcloth or cotton wool, gently wipe away dried mucous crusts from the nasal area. This helps your pet breathe easier.
- Hydrate – Encourage your pet to drink lots of water, which prevents congestion, drains the mucous and increases moisture in the body.
- Hygiene – Wash your pet’s bowls thoroughly with hot water and natural soap.
Reviewed by Master Herbalist, Mary Ellen Kosanke
- Windsor, RC. “Canine chronic inflammatory rhinitis.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. Accessed October 31, 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16711613
- “Nose and Sinus Inflammation in Cats.” PetMD. Accessed October 31, 2019. https://www.petmd.com/cat/conditions/respiratory/c_ct_rhinitis_and_sinusitis
- “Nose and Sinus Inflammation in Dogs.” PetMD. Accessed October 31, 2019. https://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/respiratory/c_multi_rhinitis_and_sinusitis
- Kuehn, Ned. “Rhinitis and Sinusitis in Cats.” Merck Manual Veterinary Manual. Accessed October 31, 2019. https://www.merckvetmanual.com/cat-owners/lung-and-airway-disorders-of-cats/rhinitis-and-sinusitis-in-cats
- Kuehn, Ned. “Rhinitis and Sinusitis in Dogs.” Merck Manual Veterinary Manual. Accessed October 31, 2019. https://www.merckvetmanual.com/dog-owners/lung-and-airway-disorders-of-dogs/rhinitis-and-sinusitis-in-dogs