Sneezing is usually a natural reflex to get rid of an irritant. It’s as big a part of life as a tickly cough, scratching an itch, or rubbing an annoying ache. We do it. Dogs do it. Even birds do it!
Sometimes sneezing can be a sign of an underlying health problem in your dog. So, how do you tell when it’s time to see a vet? Find out as we look into some of the different reasons dogs might be prone to having a sneezing fit.
Why Do Dogs Sneeze?
There are all sorts of reasons why dogs sneeze. What matters is to be mindful of when the causes are innocent or when there’s a more serious underlying health condition.
Here are some of the typical reasons that your dog might sneeze, some warning signs to look for, and when it’s time to take your dog to see their vet.
Allergies and Irritants
Not surprisingly, dogs can suffer from allergies just like humans. These can typically relate to environmental issues such as pollution or a high pollen count.
Although your dog may sneeze more often than usual, there are likely to be other signs, particularly itchy skin and excessive scratching. They may also have watery eyes.
Smoke, scented candles, air fresheners, perfume, or cleaning products can all act as irritants and cause a dog to sneeze.
Some dogs tend to sneeze when they’re playing. It’s perhaps a sign of contentment or excitement. It acts as an alert to other dogs that they’re being playful.
Dogs are prone to curl their lips when playing. This leads to a wrinkling of the nose and ultimately sneezing. Playful sneezes often sound more like a short snort rather than a full-blown sneeze from the lungs.
Dogs can use a “fake sneeze” to attract attention. You might notice them sneezing around mealtimes or when they’d normally go for a walk to make sure you haven’t forgotten them.
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Reverse sneezing in dogs happens when they get over-excited or have an irritant stuck in their throat or back of the nose. They’ll inhale repeatedly and make a kind of honking noise. It sounds dramatic but soothing your dog and stroking them will normally sort your dog’s behavior out.
A Foreign Body
Dogs are natural scavengers and that can sometimes get them into trouble. They love a good sniff around and are prone to getting foreign bodies stuck in their nasal passages. This can cause them pain and be very irritating.
The odd blade of grass, a small piece of stick, and foxtails are common culprits. They’re likely to cause lots of sneezing and discomfort, and can require veterinary attention if they don’t come out on their own.
Infections in the upper respiratory tract can also make dogs sneeze. Sometimes, fungal, sometimes bacterial, the causes can vary with even the infected root of a tooth being the catalyst. You would normally see other symptoms, such as a bloody or mucoid discharge along with a loss of appetite.
These tiny bugs can be extremely irritating to dogs. Dogs often pick them up when they dig or rub their noses in mud. Along with irritation, excessive sneezing, and inflammation, you will typically see a bloody or thick discharge from your dog’s nose.
In senior dogs above the age of 7, a nasal tumor could lie behind spates of sneezing. There may be a gradual build-up to the frequency of sneezing and some bleeding on one side of the nose.
Dog Breeds That Are Prone to Sneezing
Brachycephalic or flat-faced dogs tend to sneeze more than other breeds because of the compression of their nasal passages. The most common breeds are English Bulldogs, Pugs, and Boston Terriers.
Symptoms To Watch For
When you see your pet having a severe sneezing fit, it can be distressing. The most common causes are not usually a cause for concern.
So, what kinds of symptoms should you treat as an emergency? When should you seek the help of a vet? If there is constant sneezing accompanied by a nasal discharge, it might be a sign of something more serious. Here are other symptoms to watch for:
Your Dog Is Sneezing Blood
This is normally a sign that there’s a serious issue at play. Potential causes include nasal tumors, foreign bodies, and fungal or bacterial infections.
Your Dog Is Sneezing and Coughing
Excessive sneezing and coughing together might also be a sign of a more serious underlying health condition. Causes include kennel cough, canine flu, serious bacterial or fungal infections, or respiratory parasites.
Your Dog Is Wheezing and Sneezing
If your dog is doing a lot of wheezing as well as sneezing, that could mean there’s an issue with their lungs that needs further investigation. Asthma or other kinds of respiratory problems could be the underlying causes.
Your Dog Is Snorting
It can be tough to know the difference between a dog sneezing or snorting. An outward expulsion of air usually accompanies sneezing whereas snorting typically involves drawing in air with an accompanying sound. Although snorting is common in brachycephalic dogs, overweight pets or those with underlying medical conditions will also have regular snorting episodes too.
Treatments for Sneezing Dogs
There are lots of medications for humans that are specifically to stop sneezing fits. You should never feel tempted to try these on your pet. Some can be poisonous to dogs.
Although occasional sneezing won’t typically require a trip to the vet, there are some occasions when it can be important to seek professional help. These include when you witness:
- A thick nasal discharge with or without blood in it
- Nasal swelling, fever, loss of appetite, and lethargy
- Frequent sneezing in dogs with no obvious cause
- Severe allergic reactions including excessive itching as well as sneezing
Talk to a Vet Today!
If your pet is experiencing an unexplained sneezing fit or if there is a bloody discharge coming from their nose, you should seek the help of a vet.
We have a team of highly-trained vets available to offer you help and advice. Get in touch with us today to find out how we can help.