Why Is My Dog Sneezing So Much? 10 Possible Reasons

ACHOO! In this article learn why your dog sneezes a lot, why they sneeze when playing and when sneezing could be a sign of a serious health concern.

Nov 22, 2023·9 min read
Calendar Icon
Why Is My Dog Sneezing So Much? 10 Possible Reasons

Whether we like it or not, sneezing is a part of our daily lives. We sneeze when we have colds, when we’re dealing with environmental or seasonal allergies, or when we look directly at the sun. But dog sneezing is pretty commonplace, too. Our canine companions also experience this involuntary action.

So if your dog keeps sneezing and you’re wondering why it’s happening, look no further. We’ll dive into the causes behind dog sneezing and explain when sneezing in dogs requires a visit to your vet.  

Do Dogs Sneeze? 

Yep, dogs definitely sneeze. A sneeze is characterized by an outward expulsion of air from a dog’s upper airway. Dog sneezes sound a lot like human sneezes – they can be loud and forceful or quick and quiet.  

In most instances, dog sneezing is normal. Sneezing in dogs is often caused by inhaling something while sniffing like dust or pollen. Additionally, dogs may sneeze as a form of playful communication (more on that in a minute), so a couple of sneezes here and there is usually nothing to worry about. 

Why Do Dogs Sneeze? 10 Possible Causes 

Dogs sneeze for a variety of reasons. Here’s a look at some possible reasons why your dog keeps sneezing: 

Occasional Allergies 

Just like us, our four-legged friends can also experience occasional allergies. These allergies could be caused by dietary or environmental irritants.  

When your pup has an allergy to pollen, dust, certain foods, or insects (bites and stings) their immune system goes into action, triggering sneezing, coughing, watery eyes, or scratching. 

Irritation Or Foreign Object 

Your dog might suddenly start to sneeze violently because an irritant or a foreign object is trapped in their nose.   

Grass, seeds, or fur are common culprits when it comes to things getting stuck up your dog’s nose. Nasal mites, strong perfume, or even pollen in the air can irritate your dog’s nose, causing them to sneeze more often.  

If you do suspect something is trapped inside your dog’s nose, contact your vet immediately. They will be able to assess your pup and recommend appropriate treatment. 

Nasal Infections 

Bacterial or fungal infections in a dog’s nasal cavity can cause a dog to sneeze. In these cases, sneezing may be accompanied by nasal discharge and other symptoms like coughing, lack of appetite, and less energy. Nasal infections require veterinary treatment. Dogs may be prescribed antibiotics or other medications to help clear things up.

Canine Influenza 

Certain viruses, like canine influenza (the dog flu), can lead to symptoms like sneezing in dogs. This virus is often spread through respiratory droplets from coughing and sneezing or contact with contaminated surfaces. Other symptoms that could indicate a dog has canine influenza include a runny nose, fever, reduced appetite, and (in severe cases) trouble breathing.  

Excitement Or Play 

It’s odd, but did you know dogs sneeze when they play?! You may have noticed it yourself before… 

But why do dogs sneeze when playing or excited? Is it a conscious behavior? A display of dominance? Just a simple sneeze?  

Well, experts believe that a play sneezecould actually be a way of communicating with other dogs – telling their playmate that they’re just playing, rather than initiating a ‘real fight.’ 

Lying On Their Back 

When you give your pup those much-needed belly rubs, you may often find they sneeze when they’re lying on their back. But why does this happen and is it something to worry about?  

If your dog is rolling around, sleeping, or relaxing on their back, the fluid that sits in their nose can slide down the back of their throat, causing them to sneeze. 

It could also be because airborne particles and other irritants can easily enter their nasal passage, so your pup will sneeze to try and expel the dust, pollen, or foreign object. 

Nasal Tumors 

Although extremely rare, the cause of your dog’s sneezing could be due to a nasal tumor, which normally occurs in senior dogs. If your pup starts to sneeze more often and you notice discharge or blood, take your pup to the vet to get everything checked out. 

Tooth Root Abscess 

A tooth root abscess is a pocket of bacterial infection that forms when a dog chips a tooth from chewing on something hard like a bone. That chip creates an easy entry for bacteria into the tooth, eventually forming a painful abscess. 

If the abscess isn’t treated, the infected fluid in the abscess can leak out and get into a dog’s nose, triggering sneezing because the discharge tickles the inside of the nose. 

Brachycephalic Airway Obstruction Syndrome (BAOS) 

Certain flat-faced (brachycephalic) dog breeds like Bulldogs, Pugs, and French Bulldogs are at risk of developing brachycephalic airway obstruction syndrome (BAOS). One possible symptom of BAOS in these breeds is frequent sneezing. Other signs include wheezing and snorting. BAOS is a serious condition in dogs and can even impact a dog’s quality of life and lifespan if not addressed.  

Getting Your Attention 

Dogs are so creative when trying to get our attention! Sometimes, a dog will fake sneeze when they’re looking for a little extra love (or a treat). 

How will you know if your dog is sneezing for your attention? A few clues include that your dog is healthy, looks at you after they sneeze, and stops sneezing once they get your attention.

What About Reverse Sneezing in Dogs?

Dog licking nose

Reverse sneezing in dogs or ‘backward sneezing’ may sound quite alarming – like a loud honking, snorting, or gasping sound. But normally, reverse sneezing isn’t something to worry about. 

A dog’s soft palate is the muscular structure at the back of their mouth that helps them to swallow, make noises, and breathe. If their soft palate becomes irritated, it can begin to spasm which narrows the size of their airway and makes it harder for them to breathe air into their lungs.  

When reverse sneezing, your pup might suddenly stand still and stretch their neck forward to try and draw more air into their lungs, then attempt a rapid, forceful inhale through their nostrils.  

Sometimes, a reverse sneeze can look like your pup is choking or sound like a dog can’t breathe. But these sneezing attacks are usually short-lived and rarely last longer than half a minute or so. Pups who are prone to reverse sneezes often experience these episodes periodically throughout their life. After the episode is over, they completely return to normal as if nothing happened! 

Sudden or Excessive Sneezing in Dogs 

An occasional dog sneeze here and there isn’t a cause for concern. But if your dog starts sneezing suddenly or if your dog won’t stop sneezing, it’s probably time to see your veterinarian.  

When to Worry About Dog Sneezing 

Occasional sneezing in dogs isn’t something to worry about, but consistent and more frequent sneezing could be a sign that something is wrong. 

As mentioned above, there are many reasons your dog could be sneezing. However, if you notice any of the following signs, it’s important to take your dog to the vet as soon as possible: 

  • Nasal discharge 
  • Blood 
  • Changes in appetite 
  • Pawing at their nose 
  • Coughing 
  • Lethargy 
  • Fever 

Home Remedies to Help Dog Sneezing 

Getting to the root cause of your dog’s sneezing fits is imperative for helping your pup feel better. So, it’s important to see a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.  

However, there are a few things you can do at home to help a dog who is sneezing. 

Use a humidifier. Getting more moisture into the air in your home can help open up your dog’s airways and loosen mucus. If you don’t have a humidifier, you can take your dog into the bathroom and turn on a hot shower. Sitting in a steam-filled room for 15-20 minutes with your dog can have the same effect as using a humidifier.  

Wipe away discharge. Use dog facial wipes or a warm, wet washcloth to regularly wipe away any discharge around your dog’s eyes and nose. This will prevent crusting and dryness and keep your dog comfortable.  

Avoid heavily scented products. Dogs have very sensitive noses, so heavily scented home products like candles, air fresheners, or cleaners can lead to an increase in nasal irritation and sneezing. Try to avoid using these products around dogs or look for scent-free options.   

Final Thoughts on Dog Sneezing 

Dog sneezes are frequently normal, but it’s always good to know what to do or look out for if your pup keeps sneezing or begins to sneeze suddenly. If you have any concerns about your dog sneezing, make sure to consult your veterinarian to get to the root cause and find the best treatment option.   

Sources :

Author Sailer, Cecily, “This Is Why Some Dogs Sneeze When They Play”, Rover, https://www.rover.com/blog/dogs-sneeze-play/

Becca TriggB

Becca Trigg

An all round animal lover, who absolutely adores writing and researching anything puppy! Over the past few years, I have been able to gain ample pet knowledge; specifically joint health and dental hygiene. When I'm not typing away in the office, I can be found sitting in a country pub or growing chillies

Related posts


Join Our Mailing List For Pupdates & Access To Special Discounts!


Pay Securely With

Visa card
American Express card
Disover card
Google pay
Apple pay

© 2024 PetLab Co.

The information contained within this site is not intended as a substitute for professional medical or veterinary advice. PetLab Co. is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If your pet has, or you suspect your pet has any medical condition, you are urged to consult your veterinarian. Medical conditions can only be diagnosed by a licensed veterinarian. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Results May Vary. Not intended for human consumption. Please consult your veterinarian regarding any change in treatment or supplementation.
*In Amazon Pet Health Category in 2022
Back to top button