Dogs sneeze too, just like humans do. Although it may not always be for the same reasons. Your dog sneezing is often a regular occurrence in dogs. Still, there are certain situations you might have reasons to worry about, especially when your dog might sneeze excessively. A healthy and happy dog sneezes once in a while and can be pretty cute to watch.
But once the sneeze happens frequently or appears quite usual, it could be a sign your dog is unhealthy and would need a visit to the vet to get checked. Your dog might sneeze for various reasons; knowing how to tell when your dog’s sneeze is a cause for alarm about your dog’s health would go a long way in keeping your dog healthy and putting your heart at ease.
Why do dogs sneeze?
Dogs sniff around a lot, inhaling irritants like dust and foreign bodies that might cause them to sneeze as a natural and minor reaction to remove whatever causes the irritation in the upper airway of the dog’s nose or as a sign of a more grave underlying health problem.
Dogs also often sneeze playfully. Your dog could inhale irritants from the air around them or from playing in the ground and digging up dirt. Specks of dust, grass, perfume and pollen are various irritants that can cause your dog to sneeze naturally.
Sneezing helps dogs remove such irritants from their nose, but once they start, they bleed from their nose or use their paws to scratch their nose; you have a cause to worry and should take your dog to the vet.
If your dog enjoys sniffing the ground often or running through the grass with its nose first, it would sneeze often to get rid of irritants.
As dogs licking their lips and yawning, sneezing could also be a calming activity for your dog. Other reasons your dog might be sneezing can be due to it rolling around on the floor, excitement or bug bites.
Your dog sneezing while playing might also be a signal that it is having fun. This is usually more common in small dog breeds, although other breeds often do it. If your dog is frequently sneezing, has bouts of sneezing or is acting ill, see your veterinarian.
Common causes of sneezing in dogs
Your dog might also sneeze because of any of the following reasons:
Nasal infections can be because of the presence of viral fungi or bacteria. It could also be from an infected tooth root. The roots of a dog’s third upper premolar are quite close to its nasal passages. So an infected upper premolar or any of the other teeth close to it may cause your dog to sneeze regularly. Upper respiratory infections can also be the reason your dog is sneezing.
A lack of appetite and bloody or mucoid discharge from the nose can be symptoms of a nasal infection. You should immediately take your dog to the vet if you suspect this. Some common nasal infections are sinusitis and aspergillosis.
Sinusitis makes your dog’s nose and internal passages swell, causing it to sneeze a lot or have difficulty breathing. It can easily be treated using antibiotics or antifungal drugs.
Aspergillosis is another type of nasal infection. Your dog inhaling a fungal species of mould usually found in dust or grass would cause this. Its symptoms, asides from frequent sneezing, include nasal bleeding and pain, a swollen nose, runny nose and a loss or reduction in appetite. It is a very severe health condition that requires immediate treatment.
Sometimes if your dog is sneezing regularly, it could be a sign of a serious health condition like a tumour. If your dog is older than 7 years, nasal tumours could be the reason it is sneezing. Also, second-hand smoke causes tumours in many dogs’ nasal passages, especially in longer-nosed breeds like the Great Danes, Dachshunds and Collies.
Bleeding on one side of the nose, coughing, facial swelling, difficulty and noisy breathing, and increased sneezing as time goes by are symptoms of a nasal tumour. If you suspect this is the case of your dog or you’re not sure, you should immediately contact your vet and visit the clinic as soon as you can to get your dog diagnosed and treated.
Your dog sneezing might be because of a nasal mite infestation which can also cause nosebleeds and nasal discharge. If your dog enjoys digging around, chances are that it is likely to pick up nasal mites. Nasal mites are tiny insects that can give your dog nasal irritation. Nasal mites can cause inflammation along with severe irritation that would make your dog sneeze frequently, followed by either thick nasal discharge or bleeding.
Your dog might be allergic to something in its environment, causing it to sneeze. Your dog might also be reacting to a food allergy. Sneezing as an allergic reaction is often accompanied by your dog being itchy, making your dog lick or scratch its fur. Another allergy sign to look out for is your dog having watery eyes along with frequent sneezing.
This sounds like your dog is honking and might seem like it is having trouble breathing. The air is being sucked into the nose during a reverse sneeze, unlike during a real sneeze where the air is being pushed out quickly and aggressively. But this is not something to worry about as calming your dog down and petting your dog could help them. Dogs reverse sneezing is a quite interesting phenomenon that might happen because your dog is excited, has an irritant in its nasal passage or an inflammation.
Some dogs can be quite sensitive to irritants. Asides from irritants like dust, perfume, grass and pollen, other small particles could get trapped in your dog’s nasal passages or pharynx, causing an irritation that makes them sneeze. Foreign materials like sticks or foxtails getting stuck in your dog’s nose can also be quite irritating and make your dog sneeze.
Some other common irritants include air fresheners, cleaning products and smoke.
Often called flat-faced dogs, breeds like the Boston terrier, Pug and English Bulldog have compressed nasal passages, making them more likely to sneeze or have breathing problems than other dogs.
Dog sneezing with other symptoms
Often your dog sneezing might come with other alarming signs, like it sneezing blood, coughing or wheezing. Here we cover a basic understanding of what each of these signs means. It is important you visit your vet once you see any of these signs, as they’re symptoms of an underlying health condition.
Sneezing and Coughing
Sneezing and coughing may be a sign of a very serious underlying health condition. It is most usually a symptom of the following health conditions; canine influenza, severe kennel cough, a bacterial or fungal infection or respiratory parasites in your dog.
Sneezing and Wheezing
Your dog sneezing and wheezing point to problems with its lungs. A major cause of wheezing in most dogs is asthma. Your dog might also be wheezing due to other respiratory problems.
Nasal tumours, irritants or foreign bodies, nasal mites or a bacteria or fungi infection could be the reason your dog is sneezing blood. Your dog sneezing blood should be treated with urgency and as a sign of a serious health problem.
What to do if my dog is sneezing blood
As much underlying health conditions might cause your dog to sneeze blood, it is vital to get your dog checked. Keeping your dog calm while you’re at home would help reduce its blood pressure and slow down blood flow to the nose. Also, putting a cold pack on your dog’s nose would help reduce the bleeding. It would help if you visited your vet after you’ve taken these steps.
What to do if my dog has a nasal infection
Getting your dog diagnosed in time would help get it treated. If a tooth infection causes a nasal infection, your vet might have to clean the tooth or remove it entirely to get rid of the infection. Infections like nasal mites can be treated by using the drugs prescribed to you by your vet. If your dog is diagnosed with a nasal tumour, it would have to undergo radiation therapy, as nasal tumours can’t be surgically removed. Radiation therapy would help slow down the tumour’s growth or remove it.
When should I take my dog to the vet?
Your dog sneezing can be a quite normal or playful occurrence, as we’ve discussed earlier. You should only get bothered when it becomes quite frequent or comes along with other signs. Your dog having a reduced appetite, swelling of your dog’s nose, your dog having thick nasal discharge, bleeding in the nose, fever or showing signs of an allergy reaction all require you to visit your vet and have your dog checked out.
Your dog is sneezing, is a normal body reaction. It could be a way of your dog showing you it’s having fun, or it is trying to get rid of an irritant or foreign body. You should only feel worried when this occurs along with other symptoms, or your dog seems to sneeze too much.