My Dog Has A Runny Nose And Loose Stools

My Dog Has A Runny Nose And Loose Stools

Last Updated: August 20, 2023
correct answerThe Short Answer is:

It is rare to see dogs with loose stools and runny noses at the same time. In such a case, you should call your veterinarian because they may indicate a serious illness such as canine distemper. The only way to protect your dog from this fatal disease is to have him vaccinated on time.

In this article you will know the answer to the query “My Dog Has A Runny Nose And Loose Stools“.

Pet parents have experienced diarrhea or runny noses with their faithful companion.

My Dog Has A Runny Nose And Loose Stools

When they occur separately there isnot much of a problem.

Most pet owners become concerned when their dogs exhibit both symptoms simultaneously.

When a dog has a runny nose and loose stools at the same time it may be a sign that something is seriously wrong. 

Its always possible that its just a coincidence but as a responsible pet parent you should assume the worst and hope for the best.

You should speak with your veterinarian as these two symptoms present at the same time may be a sign that your dog has distemper a very serious and often fatal disease.

He may also have a coronavirus infection.

Definitely not to be confused with Covid!

What is canine distemper?

The disease caused by a virus attacks each of the dogs main systems – the respiratory system the digestive system and the central nervous system. Puppies under the age of four months and dogs who have not yet been fully vaccinated or who have not had their booster shots are more likely to contract this disease. 

It is not possible to treat canine distemper. During its course the disease may run its course and an adult dog in good health may be able to survive it. However it is rare for dogs to survive. 

There are also reports of the canine distemper virus in foxes wolves coyotes raccoons skunks and ferrets as well as lions tigers and leopards.

What are the symptoms of canine distemper?

Canine distemper virus may be transmitted through airborne exposure (sneezing or coughing) or through sharing food and water bowls. Viruses can be passed from a pregnant dog to her puppies through the placenta. Infected dogs can shed the virus even before symptoms appear which is one of the main problems. This may continue for months if he is lucky enough to survive. 

Often watery eyes and a runny nose are the first symptoms to appear. Eventually the dog may experience more serious problems. 

The following are the most common symptoms of canine distemper:

  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Reduced appetite
  • Head tilt
  • Muscle twitches
  • Lethargy
  • Convulsions
  • Seizures paralysis

It is important to note that the dog may not have all the symptoms and their order is not important. The characteristic symptom of canine distemper is the so-called ‘chewing gum fit’. In addition to jaw chewing movements and excessive drooling this type of convulsion is accompanied by drooling. Canine distemper may also cause the footpads to thicken and harden which is why it is sometimes referred to as “hard pad disease.”

How is canine distemper diagnosed?

When you notice worrying symptoms take your dog to the vet right away. Depending on the severity of the viral infection your vet may order a blood test. The disease can also be diagnosed by its clinical appearance in severe cases.

There is no cure for canine distemper so there is very little the vet can do. As long as the vet provides supportive care the dog may be able to recover from the disease. A doctor can prescribe medication to combat digestive symptoms and administer fluids to treat dehydration for example. 

To prevent the spread of the disease dogs with canine distemper must be kept apart from other animals. At the same time this will prevent the dog from getting a secondary infection. Since the dogs immune system is already overwhelmed by the viral infection bacterial infections are quite common in dogs with canine distemper. When a dog gets a bacterial infection the vet will give him antibiotics which unfortunately do not work against viruses.

The dog is at risk of developing serious neurological problems even if he survives.

Canine Distemper Vaccination

To protect your dog against canine distemper he must be vaccinated. In most states of the United States this vaccine is required by law. However in many European countries including the UK such vaccinations are not required.

As part of the combination vaccination known as DHLPP dogs are vaccinated against canine distemper. Additionally the vaccine protects against hepatitis (adenovirus) leptospirosis parvovirus (another deadly disease in dogs) and parainfluenza. There are other combined vaccines that protect dogs against canine distemper including DHPP DAPP and DA2PP

The first DHLPP shot should be given at six weeks of age then every two to four weeks until the puppy is 16 weeks of age. You can also give your dog a booster shot at 12 months and then every three years.

The average price of a combination vaccine ranges from $7 to $32.

What is canine coronavirus?

Another highly contagious disease that affects dogs worldwide is a canine coronavirus. Coronaviruses in dogs are different from the SARS-Cov2 cause of the Covid-19 pandemic and they cannot be transmitted to humans.

Coronaviruses in dogs can be divided into two types: enteric and respiratory.  

  • Enteric canine coronavirus Dogs are susceptible to this disease due to its effects on the gastrointestinal tract. Dogs infected with this type of virus can exhibit symptoms similar to those of gastrointestinal upset such as vomiting diarrhea and lethargy.  
  • Respiratory canine coronavirus A virus called (CRCoV) spreads through the air and attacks the lungs. Runny nose coughing sneezing and difficulty breathing are symptoms. 

Coronavirus in dogs often causes mild symptoms or no symptoms at all but it can be fatal under certain circumstances.

What is canine infectious respiratory disease?

A dog that is infected with a canine respiratory coronavirus may not show any symptoms and the infection will clear on its own. In some cases it is associated with what is known as Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease or CIRD a complex disease caused by various viruses and bacteria.

CRCoV can be acquired along with other bacteria and viruses including:  

  • Canine distemper virus
  • Canine parainfluenza virus 
  • Canine adenovirus 
  • Canine influenza virus 
  • Canine herpesvirus 
  • Canine pneumovirus 
  • Bordetella bacteria 
  • Mycoplasma bacterial species 
  • Streptococcus species 

Most of these viruses and bacteria will cause a runny nose as well as other respiratory and digestive problems.

What is canine parainfluenza?

Even if a dog does not have a canine coronavirus it can be affected by the canine parainfluenza virus. Despite the fact that this disease can be prevented through immunization there have been several outbreaks of parainfluenza in recent years especially on North American soil.

Canine parainfluenza is characterized by the following clinical signs:

  • Coughing 
  • Low-grade fever
  • Nasal discharge
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite

Although the disease itself will disappear in 1-2 weeks there is always the possibility that the dog will develop a secondary infection. You should have your dog checked out if he exhibits parainfluenza symptoms as he may need antibiotics to combat any bacterial secondary infection. The dog could develop pneumonia if the symptoms worsen.

While mild for healthy adult dogs the disease can be deadly for puppies or elderly dogs with compromised immune systems.

What are the main causes of a runny nose in dogs?

A runny nose is usually nothing to be concerned about. Every dog gets one from time to time and it is usually nothing serious. 

A foreign object lodged in one of the nostrils is a common cause of a nasal discharge. It is also possible to suffer from a runny nose due to nasal mites. One can spot these parasites with the naked eye since they are only one mm long. They can cause a lot of distress to a dog so you should take it to a veterinarian.

In addition to a runny nose allergies can also cause itchy eyes and itchiness. Various substances can cause allergies in dogs and they may also present with vomiting and diarrhea.

What are the main causes of diarrhea in dogs?

It is culinary indiscretions that cause dogs to get diarrhea most often. The trash can is a favorite haunt of many dogs and they will eat almost anything they think is edible when given the chance. Both at the same time. If a dog is given something they are not allowed such as sweets they can get diarrhea.

You probably do not need to go to the vet for simple diarrhea that can be resolved with boiled chicken breast and rice and a bland diet. The dog may have an infection if he does not get better after a couple of days on a strict diet or if he exhibits other symptoms. In this case you should consult a veterinarian. 


It is rare to see dogs with loose stools and runny noses at the same time. In such a case you should call your veterinarian because they may indicate a serious illness such as canine distemper. The only way to protect your dog from this fatal disease is to have him vaccinated on time. 

Additionally nasal discharge and diarrhea can be signs of Coronavirus infection. They are usually mild in dogs but if the condition worsens it could be a sign of a secondary more dangerous infection. 

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Amanda Dogs Trainer

Amanda (Author)

With over a decade of experience, Amanda is a distinguished dog trainer. Her expertise in canine behavior has transformed countless lives, fostering harmonious human-canine connections. Through compassionate and personalized approaches, she empowers owners to understand and connect with their furry companions, creating a legacy of joyful tails and transformed lives.

Osvaldo Maciel Dogs Trainer

Osvaldo Maciel (Content Reviewer)

Osvaldo Maciel, a stalwart in the field with 14 years of experience, is a revered dog trainer. His journey is defined by a profound understanding of canine behavior, shaping unbreakable human-canine bonds. Osvaldo guides owners to connect with their beloved pets, leaving an indelible mark of happiness and transformation. His legacy shines through the countless lives he has touched.

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