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What Causes a Scabby Nose, Breathing Issues, and Vomiting in a 9-Year-Old Unspayed Lab?


Dear VetBabble,

My 9-year-old black lab, Isis, has a scabby nose and seems to have trouble breathing, as if she has a stuffy nose. She won’t eat and throws up all the water she drinks. She is also unspayed. What could be causing these symptoms?

An Overview of Potential Causes

Firstly, I’m truly sorry to hear that Isis is going through such a tough time. There are several potential causes for her symptoms, and it’s crucial that you consult with a veterinarian as soon as possible for a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment. A few of the possible issues she may be facing include a pyometra (uterus infection), liver disease, cardiac disease, or cancer. Isis’s condition should be considered a medical emergency, and it’s essential that you take her to an ER vet or find a vet on call to see her immediately.

1. Pyometra: Uterus Infection in Unspayed Dogs

Since Isis is unspayed, she is at a higher risk of developing a pyometra, a potentially fatal infection of the uterus that can cause the symptoms you’ve described. This condition can be incredibly painful, leading to difficulties in breathing and refusal to eat or drink. Unfortunately, without proper treatment, a pyometra can be lethal. You can learn more about this condition in the VetBabble article, “Spay Urinary Incontinence in Dogs.”

2. Urinary Tract Infections or Liver Disease

Another potential cause of Isis’s symptoms could be a urinary tract infection (UTI) or liver disease. Both of these health issues can contribute to her refusal to eat, vomiting, and overall discomfort. Untreated UTIs can lead to more severe health problems, so seeking veterinary help is crucial. To learn more about urinary tract infections in dogs, refer to the VetBabble article, “Urinary Tract Infections in Dogs.” On the other hand, liver disease can progress rapidly and may also cause the symptoms you’ve mentioned. You can learn more about the signs, diagnosis, and treatment of this condition in the VetBabble article, “Liver Disease in Dogs.”

3. Cardiac Disease, Cancer, or Pregnancy Complications

Like older humans, older dogs can also experience cardiac disease, which could cause breathing problems and other related symptoms. Isis’s symptoms could also potentially indicate cancer, another crucial concern when it comes to older dogs. Additionally, although you haven’t mentioned any recent mating, it’s still worth considering pregnancy complications as a potential cause for her symptoms. For a comprehensive resource on canine pregnancy, refer to the VetBabble article, “Pregnancy in Dogs.”

Seek Veterinary Care

Given the severity of Isis’s symptoms and the potential life-threatening causes, it’s vital that you seek immediate veterinary care to determine the root of her issues and provide appropriate treatment. Delaying medical attention could lead to further complications and greater distress for your beloved pet.

Wishing you and Isis all the best in her road to recovery.

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