Dog Sneezing
Causes And Treatments

When you see your dog sneezing, most of the time it is for exactly the same reasons that humans sneeze. Your dogs nose may be shaped differently from yours, but it serves the same function, bringing air for breathing into his body.

dog wearing glasses while sneezing

That air passes through your dogs nasal passages which means that he can come in contact with all kinds of irritants. These irritants, in one form or another, are what make your dog sneeze.

Sneezing in dogs can be caused by all kinds of irritants from

  • something they're allergic to, such as a grain of pollen,
  • to an infection that irritates their nasal membranes,
  • to a foreign body trapped in the nose,
  • to household cleaning products
  • perfumed air freshners
  • to a tumor.

Whatever the cause of your pets sneezing, when your dog sneezes it results in a violent discharge of air through his nasal passageways and mouth.

Your dog may shake his whole head when he sneezes. Some times he may sneeze several times in succession or he may sneeze only once.

Sometimes your dogs sneezing may be accompanied by a nasal discharge (runny nose) but it may not. Whether you have a dog with a long nose, such as a Greyhound, or a dog with a short nose, such as a Pekingese, your dogs sneeze will be the same.

Why Is My Dog Sneezing?

Dogs don't usually sneeze as often as people do so if your dog does start sneezing its a good idea to pay attention. Something could be wrong.

Dog Sneezing has just a few possible causes:

  • Allergies:  In many cases sneezing in dogs is as a result of allergies. Dogs, like people, can be allergic to things in the world around them and this can result in sneezing as one possible symptom. Fortunately, some allergies are seasonal.

For instance, your dog may sneeze in the spring if he's allergic to tree pollen, or in the summer if he's allergic to grass pollen.

If your dog is allergic to some of these allergens he will likely have other symptoms as well, such as watering eyes, itching skin, and chewing on his paws.

  • Infections Dog sneezing can also be caused by infection. Its possible for your dog to get a bacterial, viral or even fungal infection and if this infection is present in his nasal cavities it can result in sneezing. Some of these infections can even become chronic.

  • Foreign Bodies:  Foreign bodies can cause dog sneezing. Foreign bodies may be any kind of material that your dog gets stuck up his nose. Dogs can actually get some amazing and very large things stuck up their noses ranging from sticks to bugs to just about anything they stop to sniff.

If something does get trapped inside your dogs nose it can definitely make your dog sneeze as he tries to expel it.

  • Tumors:  Nasal tumors are comparatively rare but they can occur. Dog sneezing is one of the symptoms, especially in an older dog. Treatment is usually more difficult.

Fortunately, most suspected tumors turn out to be something else.

Does My Dog Need to See The Vet?

If your dog is sneezing and you don't know the cause, the best thing to do is to take him to the veterinarian for a diagnosis.

Obviously, if your dog is sniffing pepper in the kitchen, that can account for a sneeze since pepper is an obvious temporary irritant.

But, when the cause of the sneezing is unclear, it's best to find out why your dog is sneezing so you can rule out anything serious. Your veterinarian can examine your dog.

He or she can ascertain if your dog has an allergy and what he may be allergic to; find out if your dog has an infection of some kind; and check your dogs nose for foreign bodies or tumors.

There may be nothing wrong with your dog but if there is a serious reason for your dogs sneezing its always best to start treatment early.

Dog Sneezing Treatments

Treatment for dog sneezing will depend on the cause of the symptoms.

  • Allergies:  If your dog is sneezing due to allergies there are a number of approaches you can take. The first and most important thing to do is to identify what your dog is allergic to. Until you know the specific allergen you are basically in the dark as far as trying to help your dog.

You can try to make your dog feel better with organic shampoos and antihistamines, but the best approach is to identify the allergen and try to manage your dogs exposure to it.

  • Pollen: For instance, if your dog is allergic to grass pollen, you can keep your dog out of grassy areas, keep grass cut short, bathe your dog after hes been in high grass or weeds, and try to keep your dog inside when pollen is high.

Grass pollen is usually bad for only a few weeks during the year, so it is possible to manage this allergy without giving your dog too many chemicals.

Feeding your dog a good food and supplying him with healthy fatty acids can also help fight allergies. Other owners may want to rely more on steroids and other more conventional treatments, but that would not be my choice.

  • Infection: If your dog is sneezing due to an infection, your vet will first need to identify the type of infection before deciding on the appropriate treatment.

Treatment is usually more straightforward with a bacterial infection. Its harder to fight a viral infection or a fungal infection and it may take longer to clear these problems up.

However, your vet should be able to identify and clear infections up in a reasonable time.

Infections can be very serious and its probably best not to try to treat them at home, or with herbal or holistic remedies.

  • Foreign Objects: If your dog is sneezing due to a foreign body then the best thing to do is to have your vet remove the foreign body as safely as possible.

This is not always as easy as it sounds. Depending on what your dog has gotten stuck up his nose it could be difficult to remove the object.

Its best to allow a good veterinarian to perform this task.

  • Tumors: If your dog is sneezing quite actively and it does not seem to be tapering off, it may be due to a tumor in the nasal pathway.  In this case he needs a vet's diagnosis.

If it turns out to be a tumor, work with a your vet to agree on a treatment plan.  Quite often, surgery and possibly chemotherapy would likely be the course of action.

However, you may wish discuss your dog's case with a holistic practitioner as well, or with a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine. These doctors have had some success in working on tumor cases when Western medicine has not been able to offer much help.

Dog Sneezing - Summary

In most cases sneezing in dogs is simply due to excitement or a reflex action to get rid of a temporary irritant. More often than not, it's nothing to worry about.

However, if your dog is sneezing a lot along with other symptoms such as:

  • Lethargy,
  • loss of appetite,
  • Discharge from the eyes or nose,
  • Running a fever
  • Coughing,
  • Licking
  • Itching

something more serious may be going on and your dog should be taken to the vet for evaluation.  Its always better to err on the side of caution in a pet health matters.

Resource: American Veterinary Medical Association

Book Recommendation

Dr. Pitcairn's Pet Nutrition book
Dr.Pitcairn's Guide to
Natural Health For Dogs And Cats

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