Dog Sneezing Explained

Occasional dog sneezing is expected in every dog. Their noses are extremely sensitive so they’re bound to run into something that irritates the nasal passages or sinuses. But, should your dog sneeze continuously throughout the day, it’s time to begin looking for and alleviating the cause before the condition worsens.

Causes of Dog Sneezing

If your dog has begun to sneeze excessively, it is time to look for the cause. Irritants that result in more than typical sneezing can lead to drying of nasal mucous membranes, nose bleeds and can impact your dog’s sense of smell. Removing or alleviating the irritant can return your dog’s nose to a healthy, moist environment. Common causes for elevated amounts of sneezing include:

Allergies – Dogs can develop allergies to a variety of things in their environment. Dust, pollen, mold, cigarette smoke and even carpet fibers can trigger allergic sneezing in dogs.

Upper respiratory infections – Whether viral or bacterial, upper respiratory infections can trigger an undue amount of sneezing in your dog. Sneezing is one of the few ways your dog has of ridding his nasal passages of excess mucous and discharge.

Tumors – Sometimes dogs develop an intranasal tumor in their nasal passage. These tumors are typically accompanied by bleeding from one nasal passage, with the blood triggering some of the sneezing.

Oral abcesses – Depending upon the location of the affected tooth, oral abscesses can also trigger excessive amounts of sneezing. The upper premolar teeth are located close to your dog’s nasal passages and if the teeth are abscessed, the infection can have an impact on your dog’s nasal passages as well.

Foreign bodies – Occasionally foreign bodies can become lodged in your dog’s nasal passages when he’s sniffing around or just involved in his daily activities. The nasal passage typically develops a discharge to protect the mucous membranes, triggering sneezing. In most cases, your dog is able to sneeze these irritants out of his nasal passages. In some cases, the foreign body will need to be physically removed.

Breed characteristics – Brachycephalic dogs, those with short noses and broad heads, (i.e., bull dogs, pugs, shih tzus, etc.) frequently sneeze simply because of their sinus structure.

When Sneezing Requires Veterinary Attention

Sometimes sneezing can be a symptom of a far deeper problem. It is important to see your veterinarian if your dog exhibits any of the following symptoms.

  • Nosebleeds
  • Pawing at his nose or shaking his head a lot
  • Excessive panting
  • Lethargic and running a temperature
  • Excessive panting
  • A change in your dog’s voice
  • Coughing or wheezing accompanies the sneezing
  • Snoring, panting or wheezing while he sleeps
  • Exertion such as play or exercise causes your dog to cough or wheeze
  • Rapid or shallow breathing
  • His belly heaves when he breathes
  • Discharge for two or more days
  • Dry, bleeding or crusty nose

In most cases, your dog will sneeze because of an irritant in the air or because he’s sniffed something that irritated his sinuses. If sneezing becomes more frequent, is accompanied by nasal discharge, causes labored breathing or causes your dog to have less energy, it’s time to have him seen by a veterinarian to determine the underlying cause for his sneezing. His nose is his doorway into the world that surrounds him, so a healthy nose is important to your dog.