Why do dogs Sneeze?
Like humans, dogs sneeze for a variety of reasons. The most common reason is when they are trying they have something that’s irritating inside their nose. This could be anything from a bit of dust or pollen to a blade of grass.
Other causes of sneezing in dogs can include allergies, infection, or even a foreign body lodged in the nose. If your dog is sneezing excessively, it’s best to take them to see a veterinarian as they will be able to determine the cause and prescribe the appropriate treatment.
In some cases, sneezing in dogs can be a sign of something more serious. For example, if your dog is sneezing along with other symptoms such as a runny nose, fever, or lethargy, they may have a cold or even the flu. In these cases, it’s important to get them checked out by a vet as soon as possible.
8 Reasons why dogs sneeze
Why do dogs sneeze? As you probably already know, sneezing is a natural reaction of the body when trying to get rid of foreign elements in the nasal cavity. In dogs, sneezing is often caused by environmental irritants in their nasal cavities such as household chemical sprays or dust. It could be a pesky gnat that was flying close to their face or dirt that got into their nasal cavity while the dog was digging.
If you own a brachycephalic dog breed, which needs respiratory-related medication such as the English bulldog, pug, or Boston terrier, you might hear them sneeze from time to time due to their genetically compressed nasal cavities. These breeds often have brachycephalic airway obstruction syndrome (BAOS). In this case, sneezing is one of the symptoms closely associated with BAOS.
As you might already be guessing, there are tons of possible reasons as to why your pup is sneezing. It could be nasal mites, allergies, play sneezing, or reverse sneezing, all of which we have provided more details below. Take a close look at each possible reason and find out whether it is a condition that needs not a lot of attention or if your furry friend needs a visit to the vet.
Foreign objects and irritants
Your dog could be sneezing due to foreign elements lounged in their nasal cavity. Perhaps while your dog was exploring the yard and sniffing at almost any new object he saw (as every dog does), they accidentally inhaled a clump of soil or a blade of grass. If this is the case, your dog is only sneezing to force out the foreign body and relieve themselves of the nagging tingle in their sensitive nasal cavities.
For most dogs, their nasal cavities are often irritated by perfume, hairsprays, aerosols, and household cleaners that are scented and may sneeze every time they come into contact with them. Especially if you own a brachycephalic dog breed, you should pay attention to their whereabouts when spraying their surroundings with things like air fresheners and make sure not to do it when they are around.
If you notice your dog often paws at their snout, it could be because a foreign object lounged in their nasal cavity and sneezing is not quite doing the trick to expel it. If you suspect the pawing has become excessive, you might need to take them for a nasal cavity examination by a qualified vet.
Does your dog almost always sneeze when they play with other dogs or when they are excited by something? This is referred to as play sneezing and it is nothing to be concerned about. Actually, despite your concerns about his health, it is a sign that you own a happy dog.
Essentially, your dog is trying to say, “Hey, I had a lot of fun” or “Hey, am very excited”. It is also a calming signal to other dogs that they are just having fun and enjoying themselves. Sometimes, a play sneeze is a way of your dog telling others their play style so they are not misunderstood for an aggressor. In layman, they are simply saying, “I don’t want to fight. It is just a game”.
If you were concerned overplay sneezing in your furry friend, you should begin taking it as added entertainment when watching them play with other dogs. It is just a way of communication between dogs. However, if the sneezing goes on way after playtime, your dog might not be sneezing and they might need to get close attention from a vet.
Does your dog have sneezing fits, nose bleeds, nasal discharge, head shaking, labored breathing, and facial itch? If yes, then they are likely suffering from nasal mites. Nasal mites are tiny bugs that infest your dog’s nasal cavity and then breed and bulk up in quantity causing serious discomfort to your dog. Though they are not microscopic, nasal mites are only about one millimeter in size, which is small enough to infest your dog’s nasal cavity and breed inside it.
Nasal mites breed incredibly fast and are highly contagious between dogs since they love to sniff around each other. Nasal mites are visible to the human eye, although they will need some level of attention to identify. Eradicating nasal mites from your furry friends, the nasal cavity will need the help of a qualified veterinarian. Your veterinarian will prescribe an oral or topical medication to prevent or eliminate nasal mites. Make sure to follow the instructions and dosage to the latter since the tiny rascals have a nasty habit of recurring if not totally expelled.
Aside from a nasal mite infection, sneezing in dogs could be caused by a fungal nasal infection referred to as Aspergillosis. The infection is caused by sniffing on mold found on dust particles, grass blades, and hay. Symptoms of Aspergillosis infection include a running nose, sneezing, nose bleeding, nasal pain, reduced appetite, nasal discharge from the nostrils, and a visibly swollen nose. It is not pretty.
Other than a nasal infection, excessive sneezing can be caused by sinusitis. When dogs get sinusitis, the inner lining of their nose and nasal passages gets severely inflamed, making them to sneeze continuously. Sinusitis in dogs is usually treated using antifungal medicine or antibiotics.
If your dog presents any of the symptoms of nasal infection, it is essential that you take them to see a veterinarian as soon as possible. That’s because nasal infections could lead to more serious health complications such as tumors in the nasal cavity or stress-related problems.
Elderly dogs and long-nosed dog breeds such as collies, dachshunds, and Great Danes, are particularly prone to nasal tumors. Nasal tumors account for 1-2% of all dog cancers, with 80% of the tumors being malignant. Second-hand smoke is often the cause of nasal tumors in most dogs, with long-nosed dog breeds being the most susceptible to the condition.
Apart from sneezing, other symptoms of nasal tumors in dogs include; difficulty in breathing, coughing, bloody nasal discharge, and facial swelling. If they remain untreated, tumors can grow and destroy underlying bones and can also affect the brain due to its close proximity to the nasal cavity.
If your dog presents any of the symptoms of nasal tumors, you must take them to the vet for immediate attention. As you may already know, tumors and cancers must be identified in their early stages to be treatable. Nasal tumors are usually diagnosed using imaging technology like CT scans, X-ray, or MRI. It is the worst nightmare for a dog owner to get news of an advanced tumor in their dog, and to avoid this, make a point to take them to a veterinarian as soon as you notice a symptom of nasal tumors.
Has your dog been making a “snorting” sound by forcefully and rapidly inhaling air through their nose. It is not a sneeze, but rather a reverse sneeze, which is produced when the dog is trying to rid the nasopharynx of a foreign element like dust or other allergens that are irritating them. However, since nasopharynx is located behind the nasal cavity, the best means for the dog is not to force out air (sneezing) but rather forcing it in rapidly to force the elements further down into the mouth or gut.
During a sneeze, your dog is trying to force out a foreign element that has not reached the nasopharynx area through the nose. The act of reverse sneezing is sometimes very alarming, especially for new dog owners. However, it uses a perfectly normal reaction and does not indicate any serious underlying health condition.
If your dog presents any of the aforementioned symptoms of nasal mites with reverse sneezing, you might need to consult a veterinarian. While rare, nasal mites could infect the nasopharynx causing your dog a lot of discomfort and hence the reversed sneezing.
Sneezing and food
While most dog keepers may be unaware of this fact, sneezing is sometimes caused by allergies to the food they eat. The results of a recent study indicate that animal-based food ingredients (dairy, beef, chicken, eggs, lamb, fish, pork, and rabbit) are responsible for more than three times the allergy caused by food in dogs than ingredients that are plant-based.
It is recommended that dogs with food allergies observe a strict plant-based protein diet to cub reactions to common allergens: turkey, beef, lamb, dairy, chicken, egg, soy, rabbit, pork, and fish.
Vitamin Supplements for sneezing dogs
Dog owners often find themselves asking this question: “Does my dog need supplements?” There is no straight answer for this question. Vitamin supplements are often prescribed by veterinarians for dogs in old age and those with allergies to environmental irritants. That is primarily because stresses in the daily life of your dog, the environment, and pollutants can lead to the deterioration of your dog’s optimal health. There are hordes of vitamin supplements with a variety of nutrients to help support your dog’s health recovery in the areas your dog needs most.
When is the sneeze in your dog not just a sneeze?
In dogs, a sneeze can easily be just that; a sneeze. However, as we have explained earlier in the article, your dog’s sneeze could just as easily be a serious underlying health condition. Sometimes it may be a snort, which is often caused by an obstruction in the dog’s airway. While it is also a normal reaction in dogs, the snort may need to have a veterinary check it out. Snorting is also a common reaction in overweight dogs as their excess weight may make it harder for them to breathe.
Your dog might be experiencing reverse sneezes, which are pretty normal in dogs but sound alarming to most dog owners, with some of them thinking it sounds like the dog is laughing at something. You might notice your dog stands with its elbows out and their heads or backs forwards before they make the sound. Reverse sneezing in dogs rarely calls for medical attention, so it is often needless to worry when you see your dog doing this.
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Hi there! My name is Ben Domb, an owner of two pets and I am one of the co-founders of OurPets HQ. I have several years of experience as a pet care professional in the New England region having spent time in various roles including a stint at a veterinary hospital in Upstate New York, Syracuse area. I am a certified pet care professional and mostly spend my time researching pet nutrition and sharing my thoughts in various blogs and columns. With quarantine and COVID restrictions, I have been spending a lot of time a lot with my dogs and cat and loving it! I also run a small consulting business providing advice to parents on pet nutrition, and especially safe homemade options to try. You can reach me at email@example.com