Sneezing in dogs

Has your dog ever gotten into some pepper or something spicy? The first reaction is almost always to scrunch up their face, shake their head, and let out a massive sneeze. And though it can be funny — and even cute — in the moment, if the sneezing continues (and they haven’t gotten into anything), it could be a cause for concern.

Should I be concerned about sneezing in dogs?

If your dog sneezes once or twice and stops, that’s not a big deal. It’s normal. If they have one sneezing fit and then stop, that’s also normal. But if your dog begins to sneeze often or excessively, you should have them evaluated by a vet.

What are the potential causes of sneezing in dogs?

Dogs can sneeze for myriad reasons. Here’s why:

  • Play sneezes. Dogs can sneeze as a sign of happiness and excitement. This isn’t a cause for concern.
  • Irritants in the nose. If your dog stuffed its nose into a pile of dirt or got a huge whiff of some perfume, they will probably sneeze. The sneeze generally resolves the issue. Sometimes they’ll even suck something up into their nose that gets stuck there, like a grass seed. The effort of sneezing and associated mucus is your dog’s best strategy for getting a nasal foreign body out, but if that doesn’t work you’ll know because the sneezing won’t subside.
  • Allergies. Dogs can have allergies just like people, including sneezing and red, watery eyes. Your vet can give you antihistamines.
  • Nasal mites. Dogs like to rub their faces in the most awful things, which can sometimes cause small bugs to hop into their nasal passages. Your vet can give you anti-parasitic medication for your dog.
  • Infections. Bacterial, viral, and fungal infections in the nose can all cause sneezing. See your vet for medication.
  • Tumors. If your dog is getting older, they could develop tumors in their nose, which may need surgery to remove.
  • Dental problems, like an abscessed tooth.

What are the different versions of this sneezing in dogs?

Dogs can sneeze normally, which is what you typically see, or they can reverse sneeze. Reverse sneezing is when they draw in a puff of air instead of expelling it, and it’s usually caused by excitement.

What are the next steps and tests for sneezing in dogs?

If your dog has other symptoms along with the sneezing like nasal discharge or a nosebleed, try to observe if it’s affecting only one nostril or both. This information will be helpful for your vet. If your dog has been having sneezing fits and won’t stop, your vet will first check for irritants in the nasal passages. Following that, they’ll do a physical examination, blood work, and X-rays to determine the root cause, like an infection.

What other symptoms are often associated with sneezing in dogs?

Depending on the underlying condition, like nasal mites or the flu, sneezing will be accompanied with some pretty specific other symptoms, such as:

  • Nosebleed
  • Nasal discharge
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Nasal swelling
  • Lethargy
  • Fever
  • Itching
  • Licking
  • Change in appetite
  • Excessive drool

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