French Bulldog & Runny Noses: Nasal Discharge & When to Worry

french bulldog runny nose

Anyone who owns a French Bulldog will be very familiar with their little quirks. But there’s something more serious you are likely to see with your Frenchie at some point during their lifetime; the various types of nasal discharge they are prone to.

If your French Bulldog has a runny nose or sounds congested (sometimes accompanied with runny eyes, a cough, reverse sneezing and nosebleeds) please take the time to read what this could mean, when you should be concerned, and what you need to do.

Nasal discharge in French Bulldogs

Owing to how the French Bulldog has been bred over the years, their flat face and shortened nasal passages make them prone to nasal infections and other health problems (here’s a list). As a responsible owner, you should keep a close eye on your Frenchie’s breathing and any nasal discharge.

Whilst a French Bulldog with a running nose could be something as simple as a bit of hay fever, there are other types of nasal discharge that can be early warning signs of more serious medical conditions.

frenchie nose
This is what a healthy French Bulldog puppy nose should look like.

With this in mind, what are some of the reasons why your Frenchie has a runny nose, and when should it be a cause for concern?

Why does my French Bulldog have a runny nose? French Bulldogs are prone to an assortment of breathing problems which can lead to frequent infections and environmental allergies. A Frenchie with a runny nose isn’t that unusual when thin and watery, but color and odor can be a sign of a problem.

In short, brachycephalic breeds (flat-faced dogs) such as French Bulldogs will have runny noses more often than other breeds. It is common for Frenchies to have runny noses, but that comes with a caveat.

If you notice any abnormal nasal discharge, especially if this includes any blood or pus, or if your Frenchie is struggling to breathe and sounds congested, you will need to get your pup booked in to see a veterinarian as quickly as possible.

Handy Hint: If your French Bulldog has a clear runny nose that is just watery it could be due to just be some form of mild irritation or allergy. If it doesn’t clear up in 24 hours you should think about booking a vet’s appointment.

Reasons why Frenchies have runny noses

There are plenty of reasons why your Frenchie might be suffering from the sniffles. They can range from a blocked nose to more serious medical condition. Here are some of the main causes, plus ways you can help your Frenchie.

1. Excitement

If you notice that your Frenchie’s nose starts to run when they are excited or nervous, but then the discharge clears up as soon as your pup has calmed down, there should be nothing to worry about.

Normal nasal discharge should be clear, thin, and have no odor. However, if you notice that your Frenchie’s nose has been running for a few hours without any sign of stopping, it would be worth booking your puppy in with a veterinarian, as this could indicate the early stages of a viral infection.

2. Nasal infections

Thick nasal discharge that has a strong odor or is yellow, white or green can be an indication that your Frenchie has developed an infection. If you notice these symptoms, you will need to get your Frenchie booked in to have them examined by a veterinarian as quickly as possible.

If your Frenchie is struggling with a nasal infection you can help to ease their discomfort by using a warm, damp flannel to clean their face; paying special attention to any gunk that might be trapped in the folds and clearing away any discharge from around their nose.

Some common types of nasal infections include:

  • Canine Distemper: this is typically characterized by a thick, sticky yellow nasal discharge. Other symptoms can include fever, twitching, convulsions, and pneumonia.
  • Parainfluenza: a hacking, persistent cough is one of the tell-tale signs your Frenchie might have this type of infection. Other symptoms include thick nasal discharge, gagging, sneezing, and fever.
  • Aspergillosis: a fungal infection that typically affects dogs with a weakened immune system; common symptoms include sneezing; thick nasal discharge which can include blood; a swollen nose; and a loss of appetite.
  • Dog flu (canine influenza): symptoms include an increased difficulty in breathing, lack of energy, fever, coughing, sneezing, and watery eyes. Nasal discharge will be thick, and can be a milky white, yellow, green, or brown.
  • Kennel cough: characterized by a strong, persistent cough; this respiratory illness can also be identified by a runny nose, sneezing, a low fever, lack of energy, and a loss of interest in food.

If your French Bulldog has runny eyes and a cough it could be one of the ailments listed above – many of these will often be mistaken for your Frenchie having a cold.

3. Allergies

Just as humans can be prone to hay fever and a multitude of other environmental allergies, so can your French Bulldog puppy. Runny noses and eyes can indicate your little buddy is suffering from seasonal allergies.

If anything, the Frenchie’s short snout makes them especially vulnerable to this. If your Frenchie’s runny nose and eyes is the result of allergies, the discharge should be thin, clear, and it should not have an odor.

More than likely, you’ll also notice itching and reverse sneezing, as well as red and watery eyes.

Although allergies are usually nothing serious, it will be important to keep your Frenchie’s face clean during this period to ensure that an infection doesn’t develop, paying special attention to any gunk that might become trapped between the folds around their face.

Handy Hint: French Bulldog’s can’t clean themselves properly so will often need help from their owner. Here’s what to expect including the terrible bum wipes

In most cases, antihistamines should be enough to clear up any symptoms, so if you suspect that your Frenchie is struggling with environmental allergies, it might be worth having a discussion with your veterinarian to discuss possible medications.

4. Blocked nasal passage

If you notice that your Frenchie only has nasal discharge coming from one nostril and that it has been going on for more than a few hours, there is a distinct possibility that your Frenchie has inhaled something that has become lodged in their nose.

This could be grass, grass awns (which is likely if they have recently played in foxtail grass), or some other type of foreign object. If this is the case, you may also notice your Frenchie pawing at their nose or sneezing.

Nosebleeds are also a possibility.

Although this is typically not serious in the early stages, it is still important to get your Frenchie checked out by a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Foreign objects that stay lodged in your Frenchie’s nose will not only cause discomfort and increased difficulty with breathing but can result in more serious medical concerns over time. This can include things such as fungal infections, viral infections (such as rhinitis or sinusitis), and even tumors.

5. Nasal polyps or tumors

If you notice that your Frenchie is struggling to breathe, and they have mucus, pus, or blood in their nasal discharge, this could be an indication that your dog has nasal tumors or nasal polyps.

You may also notice a swelling on one side of the nose and a loss of appetite.

If your Frenchie is exhibiting any of these symptoms, it is absolutely vital that you get them checked out by a veterinarian as quickly as possible.

Treatment for both polyps and benign tumors typically involves surgery. However, if the tumors are cancerous, your veterinarian will typically prescribe radiation therapy.

6. Oral-nasal fistula or a cleft palate

Cleft palates are unfortunately one of the most common health issues found in French Bulldogs, especially if they are purebred. This birth defect results in a split in the roof of the mouth where the tissues have not fully developed. Not only is this uncomfortable for the dog, but also leaves the nasal passages separated.

A nasal fistula is an unusual opening between the oral and nasal passages. This can be the result of a birth defect, tooth decay, infection, or some type of injury or trauma in the mouth.

Both of these conditions allow water, food, saliva, and bacteria to enter the nasal cavity and results in frequent infections and runny noses.

If you notice that your Frenchie has a runny nose or nasal discharge after they eat or drink, especially if the discharge is very watery or has small bits of food in it, your dog may be suffering with one of these conditions.

Other symptoms of a fistula or cleft palate include difficulty eating; coughing while drinking water; persistent sneezing and snorting; and struggling to breath after a bit of exercise.

Although you can take a peek inside your Frenchie’s mouth to see if there is anything immediately obvious, you will need to get them checked out by a veterinarian to fully rule out these conditions. Fistulas in particular are not always that easy to spot.

If your veterinarian determines that your Frenchie has one of these conditions, they may recommend surgery in certain cases.

7. Breeding

One of the unfortunate side-effects of the Frenchie’s distinctive smushed face is that it can result in them being born with nostrils that are too small. This can result in more difficulty with breathing and increased nasal discharge.

If the symptoms are frequent and your pup shows a lot of difficulty breathing and a constant runny nose, then get to the vets. There are times when surgery might be necessary, although this is typically a last resort.

That said, it will be especially important to have a conversation with your veterinarian if you notice that your Frenchie often chokes while eating or drinking, or if they have periods where it seems like they can’t breathe at all.

Frequent nasal infections are another indication that surgery might be necessary, especially if you notice them having more and more infections as time goes by.

French Bulldogs and nosebleeds

There are plenty of reasons why your Frenchie might have a nosebleed, ranging from a foreign object becoming lodged in their nose, to frequent reverse sneezing and coughing.

Whatever the case, it is absolutely vital that you get them booked in with your veterinarian to find out what the cause of the nosebleed is. However, while you wait for the appointment, you will need to try and stop the nose bleeding.

To do this, it will be important to keep your Frenchie calm. Try to soothe them, as they are likely to be in a fair bit of discomfort. Then take an absorbent cloth or sponge and cover whichever nostril is bleeding to absorb as much of the blood as possible.

To help ease the discomfort, you can also get an ice pack and wrap it in a towel. Apply this to your Frenchie’s nose, just between the eyes.

Whatever you do, you must not tilt your dog’s head back, as this can cause the blood to flow back up the nasal cavity, and this can result in your dog swallowing it.

This will likely result in some nausea, only adding to their discomfort. It’s also very important that you do not insert anything in their nose in an attempt to stop the blood flow from the nosebleed.

If you notice that the bleeding doesn’t stop within ten minutes, you must call your veterinarian up immediately – as this may indicate a medical emergency.

Caring for your sick Frenchie

It can be incredibly distressing to see your beloved Frenchie in discomfort, especially if they are struggling with more than just a runny nose and cough.

If you find you have a sick Frenchie on your hands, here are some of the things you can do to help them while they are feeling unwell:

  • Keep calm and pamper them: Frenchies are notorious lovebugs, so take the time to really pamper your pup while they are feeling under the weather. Try to keep them calm and give them plenty of love.
  • Keep them hydrated: Make sure your pup is staying well hydrated by encouraging them to drink plenty of water. If your Frenchie is refusing to drink anything, you can add chicken broth to their water to help make it more appetizing or offer them ice cubes.
  • Keep them clean: ensure that you keep your Frenchie’s face clean if they are experiencing frequent nasal discharge. Use a damp, warm cloth and take care to clean around the face, between the facial folds, around the eyes, and to wipe away any discharge that might be blocking the nose. Make sure you also dry between the folds to prevent any bacteria growth.
  • Keep them comfortable: If your Frenchie is experiencing any facial swelling, you can use an ice pack wrapped in a towel to help ease the discomfort.

What other owners say

I will often look to social media to see what other Frenchie owners say about a particular problem. Here are some highlights.

My French Bulldog puppy has a runny nose

Many Frenchie puppies will have a wet nose more than usual in their younger months. I found lots of comments on social media about this; here’s what people are saying:

“My puppies had runny noses occasionally when they were really little. It was almost a constant runny nose, but it doesn’t happen anymore. I would make a call to the vet though just to make sure they can rule things out.”

“My little puppy seems to get a very runny nose when she’s teething. She’s 6 months old. When she was a baby and her teeth were coming through, she was very snotty and reverse sneezing. Just a possibility, but I think snot and teething are related.”

“Boris has periodic runny noses and congestion which occurs mainly at night. We find that walks seem to help him overcome congestion, but I make sure it’s not too hot, I carry water, and let him set the pace. Brachycephalic dogs are very prone to respiratory and aspiration issues.”

“My beau had a runny, snotty, and bubbly nose for a couple of days when I first got her at 9 weeks, she’s now 13 weeks and not had it since. Nose running can be temperature changes like going from warm inside to cold outside or vice versa. It’s not always necessarily an allergy.”


If your Frenchie’s nose is dripping a clear liquid for a short period of time, don’t be too concerned. It’s when the runny nose keeps dripping for longer periods or is combined with a smell or colour that you should be concerned.

You might also like…

If your French Bulldog is reverse sneezing with a runny nose, please take a look at this recent blog post about what it could mean. I also wrote a post about what a dry nose means and when you should be worried; for example with cracking or crust.

Marc Aaron

I am one of Claude the French Bulldog's human parents. I write about all the things we've learned about owning a Frenchie, the adventures we have, and any advice and tips I've picked up along the way. Read more about Marc Aaron.

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