Chinese medicine uses three terms to refer to nasal congestion. The first two are called bi yuan and bi zhi and characterized by nasal discharge and nasal congestion (infectious type of congestion). The third pattern is defined by nasal congestion that occurs SEASONALLY and is accompanied by itchy eyes, itchy nose, sneezing or reverse sneezing.
This herbal pattern is referred to as bi qiu and most likely is known to you as allergies. However Traditional Chinese medicine will call this particular presentation of nasal congestion Lung Qi deficiency because there is weak wei qi (immune system).
Interesting enough canine nasal congestion regardless if it is of the infectious sort or of an allergy type appears to be a secondary condition to either coughing or wheezing. Because of this observation, these formulas will be used to clear the nasal passages and used as adjunct treatment to our cough and wheezing remedies. In other words if your dog is coughing and also has nasal congestion, you need to add a cough formula to the herbal treatment since it may actually be the post nasal drip down the back of the dog's throat that indeed is causing chronic coughing or wheezing!
Chronic nasal congestion is common and worrisome because in many of the instances our dogs have been on multiple antibiotic rounds of treatment only to find that when you stop the medicine the mucus once again returns. Consequently many pet owners search out herbal remedies since they have not met with much success by using modern western medicines (mostly overuse of antibiotics).
Chinese herbal medicine has many different patterns associated with nasal congestion. Listed below are a few of the most common we see;
Wind Cold Phlegm Nasal Congestion; Just like the words sound, the mucus is caused by either bacteria or viral invasions, such as a cold or a flu. Yes for sure dogs do indeed catch this type of pattern and Kennel Cough is a good example and the mucus it generates. This pattern is an acute type of nasal congestion which means that your dog does not typically have this problem and just recently contracted a doggie germ of some sort but can't seem to get rid of it.
Phlegm Heat Nasal Congestion: The most common that we see and we believe that in the majority of the time it is caused by low quality foods or a diet loaded up with grains. Traditional Chinese medicine has a saying that "the digestion is the maker of Phlegm and the Lungs are the holder of Phlegm".
Lung Qi Deficiency Nasal Congestion: Another very common pattern that is observed in dogs that experience long term chronic respiratory tract infections is weak wei qi. This pattern is usually seen in the dog that has had multiple respiratory infections, and there is also a seasonal pattern linked to the chronic nasal congestion. You might call it a weak immune system, TCM will call it weak "wei qi".
Kidney Deficiency Nasal Congestion: This type of nasal congestion is a very chronic pattern. The congestion has been around since the dog was very young and most of the time we will see wheezing and the nasal congestion. This will be the senior dog with graying hair, and seems to be aging quite rapidly.