If your dog is sneezing more often than usual, you are probably wondering what the cause could be. As it turns out, there are several potential causes for excessive sneezing in dogs.
Whether your dog’s sneezing is triggered by allergies or a reaction to irritants in the air, you’re in the right place. We have compiled a thorough list explaining the most common causes for frequent and unusual sneezing episodes.
In addition to explaining the potential causes, we have also covered some options for addressing the sneezing episodes.
If you have any concerns about your sneezing pooch, we can certainly help! Here is our list of the most common explanations for why dogs sneeze:
1. Sneezing That is Triggered by Allergies
Without a doubt, the most common reason why dogs excessively sneeze is their allergies.
Just as they can be for humans, dog allergies are often seasonal. In most cases, dog allergies are at their most severe during the spring and fall months. If you notice that your dog’s sneezing episodes are also seasonal, there is a good chance the sneezing is simply a symptom of their allergies.
Dogs of all sizes, ages, and breeds can react to pollens, dust, mold particles, and other airborne allergens in the environment. When the dog breaths these particles in, they will often react by repeatedly sneezing. The allergens irritate the interior of the dog’s nostrils and can sometimes also cause a clear nasal discharge to flow from each nostril.
To determine if your dog is sneezing from allergies, note whether the nasal discharge is clear and whether it flows from both nostrils rather than a single nostril. Dogs that are sneezing due to their allergies will typically sneeze a transparent type of mucus.
If, on the other hand, your dog is sneezing a yellow or green-tinted discharge, this is likely related to a localized infection, which means you should have your dog checked out by a veterinarian.
Other signs of allergic reactions in dogs can include watery eyes that remain red, as well as itchy feet and ears. A veterinarian can perform an allergy test to determine whether your dog is suffering from allergies and what the potential triggers could be.
What Can I Do for a Dog That is Sneezing Due to its Allergies?
In most cases, sneezing related to allergies is not something to be overly concerned about. As long as your dog is happy, playful, and maintaining its normal appetite, the best thing you can do for your dog is simply wait out allergy season and see if there are any improvements.
When your dog has other clinical signs associated with their allergies, visit a veterinarian to ensure nothing else needs to be administered. Sneezing is far less concerning than excessive itching, lethargy, or a loss of appetite.
That said, antihistamines can be given to dogs to help alleviate and treat their allergies. These tend to help more with allergy-related itching and swelling are also sometimes helpful with reducing sneezing, which can be important in situations where the dog’s sneezing is so excessive that it is becoming a serious concern.
If you suspect that your dog is sneezing as a result of its allergies, and you are concerned that the sneezing is excessive and beginning to impact the dog’s quality of life, speak with your veterinarian about starting antihistamines and other allergy treatments.
You can also reduce the severity of the allergies with simple adjustments, such as limiting the dog’s exposure to freshly mowed grass, pollens, and other common allergens. You can also help by keeping the windows of your home closed during the blooming season, as this can help limit the dog’s exposure to outdoor allergens.
These simple adjustments can help reduce the dog’s allergic responses, which could help reduce the amount it sneezing.
2. Sneezing That is Linked to Dental Disease
While it is uncommon, in some cases, your dog could be sneezing due to dental disease.
A veterinarian will be able to diagnose whether or not your dog is suffering from issues linked to its teeth and gums. As dogs build calculus and tartar on the surface of their teeth, it can act as a scaffolding for bacteria to travel underneath the gum line, where it can replicate and cause an infection near the root of the tooth.
These types of infections are called tooth root abscesses. Tooth root abscesses are not always visible from a simple oral inspection, as they can develop underneath the gums. As the pocket of infection continues to fester, it can eventually expand into the nasal sinuses, where it can start to trigger nasal discharge and irritation inside and around the dog’s nose.
As you would expect, this can trigger the flow of mucus and discharge from one or both nostrils, as well as cause your dog to sneeze more frequently than usual.
Dogs suffering from a tooth root abscess usually sneeze a yellow or green that is thick and slimy. You may also notice the dog has bad breath, and the teeth might look discolored and dirty.
In some cases, dogs with otherwise healthy mouths can develop a tooth root abscess if they have a broken one of their teeth. If the tooth fracture or chip results in the inside of the tooth being exposed to the interior of the dog’s mouth, bacteria can travel into the root space and cause an abscess.
What Can I do if I Suspect Dental Disease is Causing My Dog’s Sneezing?
If you suspect that your dog is sneezing from dental disease, the only way to solve the issue is to have the infected tooth removed surgically. Once the infected tooth is removed, the abscess will clear, preventing infection from entering the sinuses and putting a stop to the excess sneezing.
Your veterinarian may also prescribe antibiotics, which can help clear the infection faster.
3. Sneezing Triggered by the Presence of Foreign Material
Another common cause of sneezing in dogs is foreign material getting stuck and lodged within the dog’s nasal passage.
The most common foreign objects veterinarians find lodged in dog’s nasal passages are blades of grass, dirt, and other pieces of plant material, like seeds and burs. Other substances, like pebbles, dust, and other debris can also enter the nostril and get stuck within.
A foreign body entering the nose usually happens when a curious dog sniffs the ground or breathes in any material that is not meant to enter the nose. In most cases, any foreign material that gets stuck in the nostrils will irritate the dog and cause a tickling sensation. More often than not, the tickling sensation and the feeling that something is stuck inside the nostril will trigger a sneezing response.
Sneezing is the dog’s first line of defense when it comes to removing foreign objects. Given how important sniffing is for dogs, it is unsurprising that small objects and debris can frequently get stuck inside their noses.
Unfortunately, if a foreign object is truly stuck inside the nose and stays for long enough, it can lead to an infection, which can be painful and very irritating for the dog. In these cases, the dog’s nose will develop and leek a green or yellow discharge. In these situations, you will usually notice that the discharge is only flowing from a single nostril.
Dogs that sneeze as a result of something stuck inside their nostril will often rub their snout on the ground and along walls, as well as shake their head far more than usual.
What Can You Do to Help Your Dog?
Depending on what is causing the problem, a veterinarian may need to perform an endoscopy to look inside the dog’s nostril and remove the object.
Other types of obstructions that can form inside the nostril and trigger a sneezing response include masses, cysts, and polyps. A growth or tumor, whether benign or malignant, can grow inside your dog’s nostril, triggering the same sneezing response as a foreign object. These growths irritate the interior of your dog’s nose and cause the dog to sneeze. In some cases, they can also result in the same yellow or green discharge you would see with a lodged foreign object.
It is so important to have your pet viewed by a veterinarian if you suspect the sneezing is from a trapped foreign object.
4. Sneezing Triggered by Parasites:
Although it is far less common than other causes, certain parasites can also irritate the interior of your dog’s nostrils and cause the pup to sneeze.
The most common type of parasite that can affect your dog’s nose is known as nasal mites. These parasites are so tiny that they are almost microscopic, which is why they are so difficult to detect. Dogs can pick up nasal mites from sniffing other dogs carrying them or from sniffing other areas where the mites are present.
There is no evidence that humans can get nasal mites from their dogs, so you do not have to worry about your dog infecting you. In dogs, nasal mite infections will typically cause far more severe clinical signs than sneezing; however, sneezing is usually a side effect of nasal mite infection.
These more serious clinical signs can include bleeding from the nose, a loss of smell, nasal discharge, and itchiness throughout the dog’s entire face and snout. If you suspect your dog is suffering from a nasal mite infection, book an appointment with a veterinarian, who can then identify the presence of the mites and prescribe a medication that can cure the infection.
5. Reverse Sneezing Issues
Reverse sneezing is a fairly common phenomenon in dogs. Because it looks and sounds similar, more often than not, reverse sneezing is simply mistaken for normal sneezing.
Reverse sneezing occurs when dogs rapidly breathe air inward rather than outward, as would occur with a normal sneeze. As the name suggests, you can think of reverse sneezing as a sort of backward sneeze.
Reverse sneezing is a harmless and benign condition that is seen most commonly in brachycephalic breeds of dogs, which means dogs that have shortened muzzles, like a bulldog or pug. It is also common with toy dog breeds, like Yorkshire terriers and chihuahuas.
The cause of reverse sneezing is not entirely understood, and no treatment is necessary if your dog exhibits the condition. Some dogs will reverse sneeze throughout their lifetime, and they are at no risk of serious health issues from the condition.
6. Sneezing Triggered by Irritants
Lastly, many types of irritants that are not recognized as allergens can cause your pooch to sneeze.
Products with heavy artificial scents, like perfumes, incense sticks, scented candles, and various household cleaning products can send irritants into the air, which can irritate your dog’s nose and stimulate a sneezing response.
Since dogs have a much more advanced and developed sense of smell than we do, they are far more sensitive to artificially scented products, which can irritate the lining of their nose and cause them to sneeze.
If you notice your dog sneezes when you use a certain product, you can choose to stop using that particular product and opt for an unscented version. Sneezing triggered by these types of irritants is not necessarily a major concern, but it can bother your dog, so it is best to avoid using them if you do not have to.
While sneezing can be harmless for dogs, it can also indicate that something more serious is bothering the dog. If your dog’s sneezing becomes excessive and it is clear that it is starting to bother the dog, you can always book an appointment with a veterinarian to determine the cause.
Read over the list of potential causes outlined above and use it to narrow down what might be causing your dog’s sneezing. Once you and your veterinarian have narrowed down the cause, then you can work together to help your dog to the best of your ability!