Achew! Your dog sneezing can be infinitely adorable, but is it a sign they’re ill? Don’t worry, because typical dog sneezing is perfectly normal - in the overwhelming majority of sneezing incidents, at least.
Exactly as their human owners do, dogs sneeze for a large number of reasons - it’s not ordinarily a sign that they are coming down with a dog cold or canine flu, but it could be. Many things can cause dogs to sneeze, from dust or irritants, to play sneezing (more on that to follow!)
If you notice your dog is sneezing a lot, however, then it could be a sign of illness or infection. In this article, we explain why dogs sneeze and how to tell when something’s up!
Why is my dog sneezing?
Dogs sneeze all the time! When your dog lets out that distinctive sneeze, you’ll probably be wondering if it’s normal or if you should be worried.
Usually, it’s dust, irritants, or any other number of foreign particles that cause sneezing. When irritants get stuck in a dog’s nose or move into the dog’s airway, they sneeze to expel that irritant - it’s exactly the same with people, too.
Dogs have extremely sensitive noses. They use their noses constantly, too, as a way of interacting with and learning about the world around them. However, the long list of smells dogs hate includes everything from lemons to washing detergent, so it’s really no surprise that their noses are going to become irritated at some point in their wanderings around the home.
Sneezing can result from larger objects getting stuck when your dog is foraging or sniffing around in the garden. Remember, dogs spend most of their time with their noses to the ground, so something’s bound to get stuck up there.
However, If your dog is sneezing excessively, then there could be another reason. This is when owners need to take action and investigate. Here’s a quick rundown of all the primary reasons why your dog is sneezing:
- Irritants, dust, and dirt
- Allergic reaction
- Play sneezing
- Reverse sneezing
- Canine flu
- Nasal mites
- Nasal infections
- Nasal tumors
Let’s take a more in-depth look into their signs and symptoms.
There’s something in your dog’s nose
There’s not much you can do or need to worry about if your dog is sneezing because of minor irritants. If they have been burrowing in the garden and have a nose full of dirt, you can help by washing their nose with water.
They could also be experiencing minor allergic reactions or be affected by pollen in summer. Again, there’s little cause for concern if they aren’t constantly irritated or in distress.
If you’re wondering why my dog is sneezing a lot, though, and there’s no obvious irritant, it could be more serious, or it could be play sneezing or reverse sneezing. Let’s take a look at these more curious symptoms in more detail.
Your dog is play sneezing
Excessive sneezing can be a ‘symptom’ of your dog just having a good time. Intriguingly, your dog sneezing a lot can be the result of them running around and playing with other dogs.
If they stop mid-run or mid-chase and have a good sneeze, this is actually a positive sign. This is what’s known as ‘play sneezing,’ and it’s perfectly normal.
The play sneeze is a way for dogs to communicate with one another and demonstrate to their companion that everything is okay; they are having a good time running around!
Your dog is reverse sneezing
Your dog reverse sneezing is another curious form of sneezing that can leave owners startled when they first experience it. This isn’t actually a sneeze, but the opposite of a sneeze - it’s more of a dog wheezing sound!
The reverse sneeze occurs when a dog unexpectedly inhales air through their nose, rather than pushing air out, as they do when sneezing. This quick inhalation causes an often dramatic and loud sound, and your dog is likely to continue reverse sneezing for up to 30 seconds at a time.
Reverse sneezes like this are symptoms that your dog has dust or irritants trapped behind their nasal cavity. Like regular sneezing, reverse sneezing is a way to expel these irritants.
Your dog has canine flu
If your dog can’t stop sneezing, but the sneezing is accompanied by a cough, runny nose, and evident lack of energy, then they are likely to have contracted canine flu.
Yup, just like humans, dogs are also very susceptible to the flu. Specifically, canine influenza. They’ll exhibit similar symptoms to human flu, so this illness is easy to spot, even if they can’t communicate their woes to you.
Canine flu is contagious, and it can degenerate into more serious, life-threatening conditions (particularly with older dogs.) Contact your vet for further advice.
Your dog has nasal mites or a nasal infection
Your dog’s sneeze can be a sign that they’ve managed to pick up nasal mites or some sort of bacterial nasal infection. Dogs sneeze continuously when they have mites or infections, and as you can imagine, it’s rather uncomfortable for their nasal passages.
Infections are like a dog cough, and they typically result from fungi or bacteria that Fluffy can pick up around the home or garden. Nasal mites can be contagious, so keep your dog quarantined if you suspect this is the cause.
Symptoms of mites and infections aren’t limited to sneezing, however. You could also see them sneezing blood, or their nose could swell up. It can be quite distressing for a dog, and this will be obvious in their unusual behavior.
In either case, you must consult your vet for further advice, as vets can cure both mites and infections with treatment.
Your dog has a nasal tumor
A more serious reason for continuous sneezing could be that your dog has a nasal tumor. Thankfully, these are rare, but certain breeds with longer noses are more susceptible to nasal tumors as they grow older.
A nasal tumor will likely present itself with other symptoms as well. These can range from nosebleeds and swelling to breathing difficulties and vomiting. Your vet must act quickly to diagnose and treat, so if you suspect there could be a tumor, contact them immediately.
Dog sneezing: Our final say!
If your dog is sneezing, then it’s more than likely to be a minor problem such as dust, pollen, or dirt. If they don’t often sneeze, then don’t get worried about it!
But if your dog keeps sneezing accompanied by other clear signs of illness or discomfort, you need to pay more attention. If necessary, contact your vet for further advice.
Why not bookmark our guide to your dog’s sneeze so that you can spot the signs of dog flu or nasal-related illnesses?