As seasoned dog owners we’ve all been there – our adorable dog lets out a sneeze or several sneezes. Sometimes the sneeze makes us laugh. Other times we may grow concerned. Should you worry about your dog sneezing? Read on.
If you’re a new dog owner, welcome to the funny world of sneezing dogs. First, you shouldn’t run to your vet for every dog sneeze, but there are other times when your dog sneezing could point to a more serious health concern. If you are can tell the difference between a harmless sneeze and a not-so-innocent dog sneeze, you could save yourself needless worry and money.
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Why is my dog sneezing?
Does your dog like to play? Then you’ve probably heard your dog sneeze during playtime. Your dog sneezes to show it is excited and having fun, and it doesn’t matter if the sneeze comes when playing with you or another playmate. The short sneeze is your dog’s way of saying, “keep it up; this is fun!” Your dog might also be saying, “over here, look at me,” so it may be time to give your dog a little attention. The snort of a dog sneeze may also mean that it’s time to calm down.
If your dog sneezes while playing AND becomes out of breath, this may suggest that there is an underlying health concern. Respiratory infections can get out of hand quickly, so it’s better to be safe than sorry. Call your veterinarian.
This is the sneeze that rattles a dog owner the first time they hear it. A reverse sneeze is characterized by a dog quickly sucking air through its nasal passages. It sounds like a desperate gasping for air, and some dogs even sound like they are honking. The dog doesn’t move when reverse sneezing occurs. It just stands there and looks pitiful and a little scary. WalkOn dog walkers have a couple of reverse sneezing dog clients.
Reverse sneezing occurs when your dog’s throat is irritated. It sounds very dramatic but often resolves quickly. The occasional reverse sneeze is nothing about which to be concerned. However, if it happens often, spreads to another dog in your care, or is accompanied by a cough, it’s time to call your vet. Check out Ralston Vet’s cute, informative video to learn more about reverse sneezing:
Other reasons dogs Sneeze, Wheeze, or snort
Did you change something in your environment? Are you wearing perfume, using a new air freshener, or burning a candle? Are you smoking? Is your fireplace smoking? Is there pollen in the air? Has it been a while since you dusted? Any of these irritants can go right up your dog’s nose getting trapped in a nasal passage or their pharynx. Nasal irritants will undoubtedly cause your dog to sneeze.
A study by the Sensory Research Institute at Florida State University found that a dog’s sense of smell is 10,000 to 100,000 times more acute than that of humans. With world-class olfactory centers, it’s no wonder dogs are so sensitive to potential irritants. We owe it to our four-legged, champion sniffers to spend more time cleaning up their environment. Dust, vacuum, repeat.
Does your dog love the great outdoors and get ample opportunities to forage through overgrown areas? Some breeds cannot resist sniffing their way through life; nose-to-ground is a hound’s happy place. Any dog may find itself with something up its nose, including a bit of flora or an insect. Foreign bodies usually cause severe discomfort, so do your sneezing dog a favor and cart your best friend to the veterinarian for some relief.
Any infection is dangerous. You’re lucky a dog’s nasal infection comes with a sneeze and usually a cough. It is also often accompanied by a nasal discharge (sometimes bloody) and a decreased appetite. Dogs spend a lot of time rooting in the dirt with their noses, which can result in a fungal infection. If you suspect a nasal infection, get your dog to the vet.
Heeby jeebies. Can you even imagine having tiny insects setting up house in your nasal passages?! How on earth does a dog get mites in his nose, you may be wondering. Dogs love dirt and if yours is a digger or big sniffer (like a hound), do not delay veterinary care if you suspect your dog has nasal mites. How will you know? If you find yourself saying gesundheit over and over again as your dog sneezes, and your dog has a thick, bloody discharge coming from his nose, get your poor dog to his vet pronto. Ick.
As with humans, dogs can have allergies that result in sneezing. For example, your dog may be allergic to dust. Although the allergen could be something else, start by eliminating dust to see if that doesn’t solve the problem. If dusting doesn’t stop your dog sneezing, move on to eliminating other possible airborne irritants in the home. Lastly, if you are still unable to alleviate your dog’s sneezing, definitely consult your vet and be forewarned that your dog could be one expensive food upgrade away from relief.
A dog’s sneeze could be a sign of a tooth infection. Does your dog sneeze and have a runny nose? Do they have other signs of dental diseases, such as bad breath, inflamed gums, and tartar buildup? If the answer to any of these questions is, “yes,” a trip to see your veterinarian is in order; regular dental care for your pup is also a good idea. Here at WalkOn, we have encountered some dogs with pretty stinky breath and we worry about those dogs.
Senior dogs (older than seven years) can develop nasal tumors. If your dog sneezes frequently and gets nosebleeds, you should consult your vet. It could be something perfectly benign like a polyp or a cyst, but it could also be a malignant tumor.
Flat-faced dogs, such as Pugs and French Bulldogs have shorter nostrils that make them more susceptible to upper respiratory infections and reverse sneezing. If your adorable, flat-faced dog sneezes a lot, it is essential to speak with your vet about their health.
Is a dog sneezing a sign of kennel cough?
While sneezing can be a symptom of kennel cough, it is rarely the only symptom. Symptoms most often seen in dogs with kennel cough include, but are not limited to:
- a strong, dry cough
- a cough that worsens with exercise
Kennel cough is contagious, so keep your dog away from other dogs if you suspect that he may have it. Get your dog to the vet for an examination in order to rule out other more serious conditions, such as pneumonia.
Because kennel cough is so virulent, your dog can transmit the virus to your dog walker’s hands, shoes, and clothing, who in turn can transmit the virus to every dog they encounter thereafter. So, for the sake of your dog walker, your dog walker’s clients, and your dog walker’s dog, please don’t take any chances with a suspected case of kennel cough. The American Kennel Club is an excellent resource for more information on kennel cough.
When to worry about a dog sneezing
In general, a single sneeze or two is not a problem. Your veterinarian should see your dog if any other symptoms are present. Such symptoms can include:
- thick nasal discharge
- nasal swelling
- frequent sneezing without apparent cause
- reduced appetite
Is there an OTC remedy for a dog sneezing with runny nose?
Do not give your dog any medication designed for humans without first consulting your veterinarian who will know which medications and dosages are appropriate for your dog. As with any medical questions, the safest bet for your dog is to consult your veterinarian. It may be nothing, but then again it may be something.