EVERY PURCHASE FEEDS A DOG

Why Does My Dog Keep Sneezing?

July 24, 2023

Why Does My Dog Keep Sneezing? A Comprehensive Guide

close up of a dogs nose that keeps sneezing

If you're a dog parent like me, you've probably found yourself chuckling at your dog's adorable sneezes. But when my dog, Rhea, started sneezing more frequently, it got me thinking, "Why does my dog keep sneezing?" If you're in the same boat, this comprehensive guide is for you.

Key Takeaways

  • Sneezing is Normal, but Excessive Sneezing Needs Attention: While occasional sneezing is a normal behavior in dogs, excessive or persistent sneezing could be a sign of an underlying health condition, such as a respiratory infection, nasal mites, or even a nasal tumor.
  • Various Causes of Sneezing: There are numerous reasons why your dog might be sneezing, ranging from simple irritants in the nasal passage to more serious conditions like nasal tumors. Other common causes include nasal mites, reverse sneezing, nasal discharges, and allergies.
  • Brachycephalic Breeds are More Prone to Sneezing: Brachycephalic breeds, such as Bulldogs and Pugs, have short noses and compressed upper respiratory systems, which makes them more prone to sneezing and other respiratory issues.
  • Prevention and Home Remedies Can Help: Regular cleaning and grooming can help reduce allergens and irritants that can cause sneezing. Using a humidifier can also help keep your dog's nasal passages moist and reduce sneezing caused by dry air.
  • Consult a Vet if Sneezing Persists: If your dog's sneezing is persistent, accompanied by other symptoms, or if you notice a change in their behavior, it's time to seek professional help. A vet can diagnose the cause of the sneezing and recommend appropriate treatment.
  • Dogs Can Communicate Through Sneezing: Dogs often sneeze during play or when they're excited as a form of communication. It's their way of saying that their rough-and-tumble antics are all in good fun and not a sign of aggression.

Definition of Sneezing

Sneezing, in the simplest terms, is a natural response to irritants in the nasal passages. It's a rapid, forceful expulsion of air through the nose and mouth, designed to clear out these irritants. While an occasional sneeze is perfectly normal and can be quite endearing, excessive or persistent sneezing could be a sign of an underlying health condition.

Causes of Sneezing in Dogs

Just like us, dogs sneeze for a variety of reasons. It could be something as simple as a tickle in their nose or a sign of something more serious. Let's explore some of the most common causes.

Common Causes of Sneezing in Dogs

CauseSymptomsTreatment
Nasal Passage IrritationOccasional sneezing, pawing at the noseRemoval of irritant, if possible
Nasal MitesFrequent sneezing, nasal dischargesVet-prescribed medication
Reverse SneezeRapid inhalations, snorting soundsUsually none, but the vet may prescribe medication if severe
Nasal DischargesFrequent sneezing, runny noseDepending on the cause, could include antibiotics or antifungal medication
Runny NoseFrequent sneezing, clear or colored dischargeDepending on the cause, could include antihistamines or antibiotics
Brachycephalic BreedsFrequent sneezing, other respiratory issuesRegular vet check-ups, maintaining a healthy weight
Foreign Bodies in the Nasal CavityFrequent sneezing, pawing at the noseVet removal of foreign body
Nasal TumorsPersistent sneezing, bloody noseSurgery, radiation, or chemotherapy
Seasonal AllergiesSneezing, itching, runny noseAntihistamines, allergy shots

Nasal Passage

The nasal passage is a crucial part of a dog's respiratory system. It warms, filters, and humidifies the air they breathe. However, if there's an obstruction or irritation in the nasal passage, it can trigger sneezing. This could be due to dust, inflammation, or other irritants.

Here are some statistics and information related to the topic:

  • Sneezing is a common symptom of nasal issues in dogs, which could be due to dust, inflammation, or other irritants (source).
  • According to a study by the University of Georgia, foreign bodies in the nasal passage are one of the most common causes of chronic nasal discharge in dogs (source).
  • Nasal passage narrowing in dogs, or nasopharyngeal stenosis, is a disorder where the part of the nasal passage is abnormally narrow, causing respiratory "sounds" such as snoring, gasping, or other sounds that reflect an obstructed flow of air (source).
  • Rhinitis and sinusitis are medical conditions that can cause inflammation of the nasal passages and mucus discharge in dogs. With prolonged inflammation, bacterial infections are common (source).
  • Other causes of nasal discharge in dogs include blockages, allergies, foreign bodies, and dental disease (source).
  • Diagnosis of nasal disease in dogs involves a combination of physical examination, x-ray findings, endoscopic examination, nasal biopsy, nasal cultures, blood tests, and elimination of other causes of nasal discharge and sneezing (source)

Overall, it is important to monitor your dog's nasal health and seek veterinary care if you notice any symptoms of nasal issues.

Nasal Mites

Nasal mites, also known as Canine nasal mites, are tiny parasites that live in dogs' nasal passages and sinuses. They can cause frequent sneezing, nasal discharges, and even a runny nose.

Here are some statistics about nasal mites in dogs:

  • Nasal mites affect up to a quarter of the canine population in some areas (source).
  • According to a study by the University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine in Romania, nasal mites are found in about 1% to 2% of dogs (source).
  • The mites can affect dogs of all breeds, ages, and sexes, although there is a suggestion that dogs older than 3 years of age and large breed dogs may be more affected (source).
  • The transmission of nasal mites is thought to occur through both direct and indirect contact between dogs (source).
  • There is no single universally recommended treatment for canine nasal mites, but several antiparasitic medications appear to be effective in more than 85% of cases (source).

It's important to note that nasal mite infestations may not always be associated with clinical signs or pathological changes, and the infection could be underdiagnosed in some cases (source)

close up of a pit bull nose that has been sneezing

Reverse Sneeze

Reverse sneezing is a phenomenon unique to dogs, particularly small breeds and brachycephalic breeds (those with flat faces and short noses). It involves rapid and repeated inhalations through the nose, accompanied by snorting or gagging sounds. While it can sound alarming, reverse sneezing is usually harmless and often related to minor irritations or excitement.

Nasal Discharges

Nasal discharges in dogs can range from clear and watery to thick and purulent and can cause your dog to sneeze excessively. This could be due to a variety of reasons, including nasal infections, allergies, or even a nasal tumor. If your dog has persistent nasal discharge, it's worth a trip to the vet.

Runny Nose

A runny nose can lead to frequent sneezing in dogs. This could be a symptom of an underlying condition like a respiratory infection, a fungal nasal infection, or even a sign of food allergies. According to the American Kennel Club, allergies are a common cause of runny noses in dogs (source).

Brachycephalic Breeds

Brachycephalic breeds, such as Bulldogs and Pugs, have short noses and compressed upper respiratory systems. This makes them more prone to sneezing and other respiratory issues. In fact, a study published in PLOS ONE found that brachycephalic breeds are 1.5 to 3 times more likely to suffer from upper respiratory conditions compared to other breeds (source).

Foreign Bodies in the Nasal Cavity

Just like us, dogs are curious creatures. This curiosity can sometimes lead them to sniff and inhale foreign bodies like grass seeds, dust, or small toys. These foreign bodies can irritate the nasal cavity, leading to frequent sneezing. If your dog's sneezing is accompanied by pawing at the nose or nasal discharge, it's time to seek medical attention.

Nasal Tumors

Although rare, dogs can develop nasal tumors. Dogs with nasal tumors may exhibit symptoms like persistent sneezing, bloody nose, or nasal discharges. According to the University of Florida, nasal tumors make up about 1% to 2% of all cancers in dogs (source).

Seasonal Allergies

Just like humans, dogs can suffer from seasonal allergies. Pollen, mold, and dust mites can trigger allergic responses in dogs, leading to symptoms like sneezing, itching, and a runny nose. According to a survey by the Environmental Protection Agency, indoor levels of pollutants, including allergens, may be up to five times higher than outdoor levels (source).

Medical Conditions and Other Reasons for Excessive Sneezing

Excessive sneezing can be a symptom of various medical conditions. Let's look at some of them.

Respiratory Infections

Respiratory infections, such as kennel cough, can cause your dog to sneeze. If your dog's sneezing is accompanied by a hacking cough or rapid breathing, it might be time to consult a vet. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, respiratory infections are among the most common infectious diseases in dogs source.

Dental Conditions

Bad teeth or tooth abscesses can cause sneezing in dogs. This is because the roots of some teeth extend up into the nasal passage. If your dog's sneezing is accompanied by bad breath or loss of appetite, it might be a dental issue. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, most dogs have some form of periodontal disease by the age of three (source).

Prevention and Home Remedies for Dog Sneezing

While it's important to consult a vet if your dog's sneezing is persistent or accompanied by other symptoms, there are some preventive measures and home remedies you can try.

Home Remedies for Dog Sneezing

  • Use a humidifier to keep your dog's nasal passages moist.
  • Regularly clean and groom your dog to reduce allergens and irritants.
  • Avoid smoking or using strong-smelling products around your dog.
  • Keep your dog hydrated. Drinking water can help soothe their throat and clear out their nasal passages.
  • If your dog has allergies, try to identify and eliminate the allergen from their environment.

Humidifiers and Their Benefits

Using a humidifier can help keep your dog's nasal passages moist and reduce sneezing caused by dry air. It's especially beneficial in dry climates or during winter. According to the Mayo Clinic, maintaining indoor humidity levels between 30% to 50% can help keep the air moist and reduce symptoms of respiratory problems source.

Proper Cleaning and Grooming

Regular cleaning and grooming can help reduce allergens and irritants that can cause sneezing. Pay attention to your dog's body language during grooming sessions. If they seem uncomfortable or sneeze a lot, it might be time to switch products. According to the American Kennel Club, regular grooming can help keep your dog's skin and coat healthy, and can also provide an opportunity to spot any abnormalities early (source).

When to Consult a Vet

If your dog's sneezing is persistent, accompanied by other symptoms, or if you notice a change in their behavior, it's time to seek professional help. A vet can diagnose the cause of the sneezing and recommend appropriate treatment. Regular vet check-ups can help detect problems earlier and provide more effective treatment.

Signs Your Dog's Sneezing Might Be Serious

  • The sneezing is persistent or more frequent than usual.
  • The sneezing is accompanied by other symptoms, such as a runny nose, coughing, or loss of appetite.
  • Your dog seems distressed or in pain when they sneeze.
  • Your dog is pawing at their nose or face.
  • There's a discharge from your dog's nose, especially if it's colored or bloody.
  • Your dog's behavior or appetite has changed.
Close up of a dogs nose with the sun shining in the background

The Last Bark

While sneezing is a common behavior in dogs, excessive sneezing can be a sign of an underlying health condition. It's important to pay attention to your dog's sneezing patterns and seek veterinary help if needed. Remember, a sneeze-free dog is a happy dog!

From my dog Rhea's sneezing bouts to the countless queries I've received from fellow dog parents, I've realized that sneezing is a common concern for many of us. I hope this guide has helped you understand why your dog might be sneezing and what you can do about it. After all, our furry friends rely on us to keep them healthy and happy!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why does my dog fake sneeze?

Dogs are smart creatures and they quickly learn what gets their attention. Some dogs might fake sneeze because they've noticed it gets your attention. However, if the fake sneezes become frequent or are accompanied by other symptoms, it's best to consult a vet.

Can a dog's sneeze be a sign of something serious?

While sneezing is usually harmless, excessive or persistent sneezing could be a sign of an underlying health condition, such as a respiratory infection, nasal mites, or even a nasal tumor. If your dog's sneezing is accompanied by other symptoms like a runny nose, coughing, or loss of appetite, it's time to consult a vet.

How can I help my dog with seasonal allergies?

If your dog suffers from seasonal allergies, there are several things you can do to help. Regular grooming can help remove allergens from their coat, while a humidifier can help keep their nasal passages moist. Over-the-counter allergy relief medication can also help, but it's best to consult a vet before starting any new medication.

Why does my dog sneeze when they're excited?

Excitement can indeed trigger sneezing in dogs. When dogs are excited, they tend to breathe more rapidly, which can lead to a build-up of air in their nasal passages. A sneeze is a natural way to expel this excess air. So, if your dog sneezes when they're excited, it's usually nothing to worry about!

Why does my dog sneeze during play?

Play sneezing is a common behavior in dogs. It's often a way for dogs to communicate to their playmates (human or canine) that their rough-and-tumble antics are all in good fun and not a sign of aggression. So, if your dog sneezes during play, they're likely just having a good time!

Can dogs have allergies like humans?

Yes, dogs can have allergies just like humans. They can be allergic to a variety of things, including pollen, dust mites, certain foods, and even some types of fabric. Allergies in dogs can cause a range of symptoms, including sneezing, itching, and a runny nose. If you suspect your dog has allergies, it's best to consult a vet for diagnosis and treatment options.

Can I give my dog antihistamines for sneezing?

While antihistamines are often used to treat allergies in humans, it's important to consult a vet before giving any medication to your dog. Some human medications can be harmful to dogs. If your dog's sneezing is caused by allergies, your vet can recommend a safe and effective treatment plan.

How can I tell if my dog's sneezing is serious?

While occasional sneezing is usually nothing to worry about, there are some signs that your dog's sneezing could be serious. If the sneezing is persistent, if it's accompanied by other symptoms (like a runny nose, coughing, or loss of appetite), or if your dog seems distressed, it's time to consult a vet.

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