How to Treat Stenotic Nares in Cats and Dogs About These Nasal Abnormalities

A Cat And Dog Laying Together

Stenotic nares are severe nasal abnormalities that are usually seen in brachycephalic dog and cat breeds. This condition can hinder your pet's ability to breathe. Luckily, there are treatment options available.

Stenotic nares are nasal abnormalities commonly found in brachycephalic cats and dogs. These abnormalities are caused by a congenital nasal cartilage malformation that creates narrowed nostrils (โ€œnaresโ€ means โ€œnostrilsโ€). These smaller nasal openings can limit airflow to the respiratory system.

Most often stenotic nares are due to selective breeding for a short-nosed appearance. The nose and face of brachycephalic breeds have a pushed-in appearance: โ€œbrachyโ€ means shortened and โ€œcephalicโ€ means head. Flat-faced dog breeds like Pugs, English Toy Spaniels, and Chow Chows and cat breeds like Persians, Himalayans, and Burmese are all at risk of stenotic nares and the health complications that come with them.

How Will I Know if My Pet Has Stenotic Nares?

Pinched or narrow nostrils are the most common way to identify stenotic nares, and are present at birth. But the respiratory difficulties that are symptomatic of an issue with the stenotic nares may not begin until the dog or cat is several years old. Symptoms of respiratory difficulty or airway resistance caused by stenotic nares and brachycephalic syndrome include the following:

  • Noisy breathing, particularly when inhaling
  • Snoring
  • Lethargy or tiring during exercise
  • Fainting
  • Blue gums or skin (cyanosis)

Treatments for Stenotic Nares

Because the condition is hereditary, stenotic nares are not preventable. The only way to prevent pets from being born with stenotic nares is to not breed them, so the condition canโ€™t be passed to their offspring.

Your veterinarian will be able to diagnose the condition by examining your dog or catโ€™s nostrils and considering their breed. Diagnostic tests may then be needed to examine your petโ€™s respiratory health. Stenotic nares are often accompanied by other brachycephalic abnormalities that can affect health. Once diagnosed, treatments may be medical or surgical.

For mild symptoms, your vet may recommend managing the condition with lifestyle changes. Healthy eating and exercise are keys to maintaining a healthy weight, which avoids straining your petโ€™s lungs. Avoiding environmental stressors like high heat and humidity can also help. For dogs, switching to a harness-style leash may be recommended to avoid strain on airways. Anti-inflammatory medications, steroids, and oxygen therapy may also be prescribed for short-term, mild relief of symptoms.

Restrictive airway disorders can be progressive and worsen without treatment. Your vet may determine that surgical correction is the best option for treating your petโ€™s stenotic nares. They can be surgically corrected by removing nostril tissue to widen the openings and improve airflow. Before symptoms become severe, surgical prognosis is generally considered good.

Even after a surgery, you may have to maintain lifestyle habits with your brachycephalic pet, including keeping a healthy weight, avoiding overly hot weather, and monitoring exercise.

Serious repercussions often lead to them bloody noses. Knowing them at length can help you have better solutions in place.

What Causes Bloody Noses In Dogs And Cats?

If youโ€™ve ever had a nosebleed, you know how alarming it can be. The same is true if youโ€™ve ever had a pet with a nosebleed. When blood comes out of your petโ€™s nose -- whether in the form of a sneeze or a steady drip from one or both nostrils -- it is not normal, and it is important to identify the cause. While some pet nosebleeds may be the result of something minor, others can point to a more serious disease.

What to Do if Your Pet Gets a Nosebleed

First things first: if your dog or cat gets a nosebleed, youโ€™ll want to try to stop the bleeding.

  • Remain calm. If your pet sees that you are upset or frantic, it may raise their blood pressure, which can result in more bleeding.

  • Make an ice pack and apply it to the bridge of your petโ€™s nose, ensuring that they are still able to breathe comfortably. The cold constricts blood vessels, which can slow the bleeding.

  • Do not give your pet any medication to stop the bleeding unless instructed by your veterinarian.

  • If the bleeding does not stop or your pet seems to be having trouble breathing (or is showing any other unusual symptoms), go to your vetโ€™s office or the emergency pet clinic immediately.

When a pet gets a nosebleed, they are likely to swallow a lot of draining blood. This may lead to dark stools or vomit with blood clots in it. This is normal after a nosebleed and doesnโ€™t necessarily point to a more serious problem. However, you should contact your veterinarian if your petโ€™s stools donโ€™t return to normal or if they continue to vomit.

Determining the Cause of a Dog or Catโ€™s Bloody Nose

A nosebleed -- or epistaxis -- can be caused by many things, including injuries, poisoning, a foreign object stuck in the nose, drug reactions, blood clotting disorders, and a number of diseases.

To figure out the cause of your petโ€™s bloody nose, your veterinarian will first perform a physical examination and ask you a series of questions about your pet.

Questions that may come up if your pet has a nosebleed may include:

  • Is your pet taking any medications, and what medications have they taken in the past 30 days? Certain medications -- such as NSAIDs -- can affect blood clotting.

  • Has your pet been exposed to any poisons, such as rat poison? Many poisons work by disabling the bodyโ€™s ability to clot blood.

  • Has your pet consumed a mouse, rat, or other animal that could have consumed poison?

  • Has your pet recently been injured, or been in a situation where they may have sustained an injury that you canโ€™t see (such as a fight with another animal)?

  • Has your pet been exposed to foxtails or any other plant matter that could have become lodged in the nose?

  • Have you seen dark black stools or dark vomit? 

  • Has your pet been showing any other symptoms? Sneezing, rubbing their nose, bruising, swollen body parts, bleeding from other parts of the body.

Depending on your petโ€™s symptoms and condition, your veterinarian may also recommend certain lab tests. The lab tests that your veterinarian recommends will vary from case to case, but most pets with nosebleeds require complete blood work, urinalysis, and clotting tests.

Additional tests may include: radiographs to check for internal bleeding; blood pressure testing; a nasal swab to check for infectious agents; bone marrow analysis; fungal culture; tick disease test; dental inspection; rhinoscopy (viewing the nose with an endoscope); sinus and skull x-rays; and MRI.

What Are The Causes Of A Pet Nosebleed?

The most common causes of epistaxis in pets are injury, infection, and nasal tumors. Other causes include:

Blood clotting disorders:

Diseases that result in low platelet count (platelets are blood cells involved in blood clotting):

Treating a Bloody Nose in Dogs and Cats

Treatment for a petโ€™s bloody nose will depend on the cause.

In the case of infection, many pets are treated with a course of antibiotics. In the case of an injury or other condition that is causing chronic bleeding, cauterization (burning the affected area to seal off blood vessels) may be necessary in addition to any required surgeries or medication.

If your pet ever gets a bloody nose, donโ€™t panic. Try the above techniques to stop the bleeding and contact your veterinarian if the problem persists or you see other symptoms.

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List of Breeds and Their Common Health Concerns
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