Dog Sneezing: A Vet’s Guide to Causes and What to Do About It

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If you’re wondering, “why is my dog ​​sneezing?” you are in good company! Most dogs sneeze from time to time, and it can be concerning if you don’t know what’s going on or why it’s happening.

Fortunately, most sneezes do not indicate a problem. However, chronic or recurrent sneezing may reflect an underlying medical condition that warrants treatment. For example, if your dog is sneezing due to allergies, he may need prescription medication or the best allergy dog ​​food.

Read on to learn more about canine sneezing, to better understand this potentially frustrating condition.

Should I be worried if my dog ​​sneezes?

There are many reasons why a dog might sneeze, and these causes range from relatively trivial to life-threatening. Some dogs sneeze without rhyme or reason, in response to their environment or behavioral cues. In other cases, sneezing can indicate a significant underlying medical condition.

Allergies are a common cause of recurrent sneezing in dogs. While canine allergies are usually associated with itchy and inflamed skin, some dogs develop sneezing and itchy eyes. For more information on managing canine allergies, read these nine tips for dealing with allergic pets.

Sneezing can also occur if something is stuck in a dog’s nose. Small inhaled dust particles may cause a single sneeze, but recurrent or chronic sneezes may indicate a larger object trapped in the nasal passage. Less commonly, nasal tumors can cause chronic or recurrent sneezing by similarly blocking or irritating the nasal passages.

Finally, sneezing can be associated with dental disease. The roots of a dog’s upper teeth are located very close to the sinuses and nasal passages. A tooth root abscess or tooth infection can cause inflammation of the sinuses and nasal passages, leading to sneezing.

In general, an occasional sneeze is nothing to worry about. However, persistent and recurrent sneezing could suggest an underlying medical problem. If your dog sneezes repeatedly and/or if the frequency of his sneezes has increased over time, a veterinary examination is in order.

Causes of sneezing in dogs

There are three main reasons why your dog may sneeze:

Allergies

In case of allergies, your veterinarian will first identify the cause of your dog’s allergies.

There are four common allergies in dogs: grain/mite allergy, inhalant allergy, flea allergy, and food allergy. Food trials are typically used to rule out common food allergies in pets, while allergy testing can assess your pet’s response to dust mites and environmental triggers.

Based on these tests, your veterinarian will characterize your dog’s allergies and recommend appropriate treatment. Allergies are managed, not cured. Your dog will likely require long-term use of a hypoallergenic diet, oral medications such as apoquel for dogs, and/or other lifestyle changes to control allergies.

dental problems

Canine dental disease is best treated with a thorough dental cleaning, performed under general anesthesia. Your vet will carefully examine your dog’s teeth and take x-rays (x-rays) of each tooth.

Diseased teeth will be extracted and your dog will likely be treated with antibiotics. In many dogs, treatment of dental disease alleviates recurrent sneezing.

Nasal problems

A nasal foreign body, on the other hand, is usually treated surgically. Your vet will calm your dog, then attempt to flush or extract any foreign objects from the nose. Removal of a nasal foreign body is curative; no further treatment is usually needed once the object has been removed from the nose.

Nasal tumors are relatively rare, but they do occur. Treatment may require a combination of therapies. Depending on the tumor and its location, your veterinarian may recommend surgery, radiation therapy, and/or chemotherapy.

A Siberian Husky dog ​​sneezes

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Why does my dog ​​sneeze when excited?

Although some sneezes have a medical cause, this is not always the case. Dogs also use sneezes to communicate, both with other dogs and with their human companions.

Sneezing is often associated with excitement and may indicate a desire to play or interact. In fact, many dogs use sneezing to get their owners’ attention. Sneezing can be used as a sign of submission in some contexts, or it can be used as a way to defuse rough play. Behavioral sneezing usually does not indicate an underlying medical problem.

Catherine Barnette

Dr. Barnette is a graduate of the University of Florida, where she received both her BSc in Zoology and her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM). She has 15 years of clinical experience as a small animal veterinarian, treating dogs, cats and occasional exotic patients. She now works as a freelance veterinary writer, creating educational content for dedicated veterinarians, veterinary team members and pet owners.

Why is my dog ​​sneezing so much?

Although sneezing can happen to any dog, some dogs tend to “sneeze upside down.” It’s not really a sneeze at all; it is rather a sudden and violent inhalation of air. A reverse sneeze creates a honking or snorting sound, and it can make the dog sound like he’s choking.

We don’t know exactly what causes reverse sneezing in dogs. Some dogs have frequent episodes of reverse sneezes, while others will go their entire lives without ever having a reverse sneeze. In some cases, an increased frequency of reverse sneezes can be caused by allergies to pollen and other airborne allergens. Other dogs reverse the sneeze primarily when excited or anxious.

In most cases, reverse sneezes are nothing to worry about. However, it’s always best to talk to your vet about any changes in the frequency or severity of your dog’s sneezing or reverse sneezing.

A pug who just sneezed

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Summary

The question “why is my dog ​​sneezing?” can have a wide variety of potential responses. An occasional sneeze, which happens once in a while, is probably not a cause for concern. Like us, dogs can sneeze after inhaling dust or other allergens.

However, if your dog sneezes regularly or if you have noticed a change in the frequency or pattern of your dog’s sneezing, a visit to the vet can help rule out underlying medical conditions that may be contributing to the sneezing.

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