Why is My Dog Sneezing?

Why is My Dog Sneezing?

PHC LLCNov 10, '20

Why is My Dog Sneezing?

With the changing of seasons comes the time for us to sneeze and blow our noses. Sinus problems are a commonplace obstacle we must battle every now and then. 

What about dogs, though? It would be simple to say that they experience sneezes the same way we do. But that’s not the case - they have different bodies, after all.

It’s one thing to worry about your dog’s sneezing. It’s another thing to ignore the condition and miss something serious going on with your pet’s health.

So, what could be the culprit for your dog’s sneezing?

Why is My Dog Sneezing?

The most common reasons for a dog sneezing a lot would be viruses, allergies, or just play. 

The first two are reasonable, but what does it mean when a dog sneezes at play? It’s an odd thing to do and likely unrelated to fun, competition, or excitement. 

At least, that’s what we might think.

Dog Sneezing at Play

If you’ve ever noticed a dog playing with other pets, chances are you will hear the dog make a sneezing noise during the interaction.

This is a play sneeze. It’s like a dramatic form of expression in the middle of play, and it usually happens when things are getting exciting.


Dog behavior experts say sneezing is a form of communication that signals a game is just for fun. This behavior prevents roughhousing from turning into actual fighting.

A play sneeze is no cause for concern. It only becomes worrisome when it’s uncontrollable or accompanied by nasal discharge. These cases require further observation.

Can Dogs Get Nasal Infections?

It’s possible for dogs to get nasal infections like rhinitis. Depending on the type of infection, symptoms will vary.

Some dogs may have thick, yellow-green mucus coming out of their noses in addition to sneezing. They could paw at their face, breathe more loudly than usual, gag, and even cough. These signs could all point to rhinitis.

You will know the condition is serious when the dog has a high body temperature and poor appetite. The best home treatment is rest, but a vet trip is wise if the symptoms worsen. 

If there are other pets in the house, the sick dog must be isolated to avoid contaminating their housemates.

Dog Allergies

The next most common cause of sneezing would be allergies. Like people, dogs can be allergic to things like pollen, dust, mold, or a specific food.

Aside from sneezing, itchiness is a telltale sign of an allergy. It could be in just one spot or all over the body. Other symptoms are coughing, wheezing, and runny (not thick) discharge from the eyes or nose.

Allergies will require a vet’s expertise to identify the exact allergy trigger. A vet can also prescribe the proper treatment.

The Canine Reverse Sneeze

There’s also the reverse sneeze. This is when a dog makes gasping, choking, or gagging noises. It sounds scary, but you can rest assured your dog is not actually gasping, choking, or gagging. They’re inhaling through their nose in spasms. 

This so-called “reverse sneezing” is a common reflex that occurs when a dog is trying to remove an irritant or foreign allergen from their system. It’s a harmless bodily response that only lasts a few seconds.

However, if the dog continues to express discomfort and can't seem to stop reverse sneezing, they may need some extra help. You can gently massage your dog's throat or blow lightly in their face. These methods get your dog to swallow and possibly ease the spasms.

Taking your dog out for fresh air also helps. Reverse sneezes go away as quickly as they come unless the dog has allergies, which merits a vet visit.

Signs of trouble

More worrisome concerns will be rare, but they are still possible. 

Foxtail Burr

Something could be stuck in a dog’s nose, like hair, grass, or a piece of food. Dogs will react to this by pawing at their nose, rubbing it on the ground, or sneezing excessively. Chances are, these methods will work to remove the foreign object.

But the most concerning object to have stuck in a dog’s nose is the foxtail burr. Foxtails are weed-like plants that have sharp, barbed seeds. Because they’re so prickly, they can get scattered anywhere. 

If you suspect a foxtail burr is stuck in your dog’s snout, eyes, mouth, or any other area, you must contact the vet. They’ll be able to assess the problem and prevent it from getting worse.

Tracheal Collapse

A noise one wouldn’t want to hear from a dog is the honking sound. When accompanied by an inability to breathe and a slightly blue tinge to their gums, this sound is an indicator of something serious.

 

These are symptoms of tracheal collapse, which occurs more often in smaller breeds. This condition means airway obstruction. In most cases, the tracheal cartilage is weaker than normal due to an abnormality from birth.

The only way to deal with tracheal collapse is to take the dog to the vet as soon as possible for treatment.

My Dog Keeps Sneezing

An urgent condition that you must rule out is the canine influenza virus. The symptoms include uncontrollable sneezing, hacking cough, lack of appetite, lethargy, discharge from eyes and/or nose, and high fever.

When your dog exhibits these symptoms, you must call the vet immediately. If left untreated, it could lead to pneumonia and other riskier conditions.

It’s also essential to warn the vet that your dog might have the flu, as there is protocol needed to contain and minimize its spread. Isolation is the key!

However, if the situation doesn’t seem that grave, your dog might just have the common cold. The symptoms of this are runny nose, fever, watery eyes, and lack of energy. 

A cold will clear up on its own, compared to the much worse flu. But if your dog is very old, very young, or very sickly, it’s a safe choice to go to the vet.

Conclusion

It’s definitely scary to hear a dog sneeze excessively. That’s why it’s vital to know about the various dog sneezes and accompanying symptoms that could signal a serious condition.

Still, one can never know a hundred percent if something is a mild or severe case. If your instinct tells you something’s not right, the vet is just one call away.

References