When they sneeze, your pup’s body is trying to expel the irritant - just like us humans do. Most of the time, a sweet little sneeze from your pooch is no cause for concern.
However, John Rossi, author of What’s Wrong With My Dog? points out that “sneezing by itself is not usually a serious sign in a dog, although it can be a precursor of things to come which may be worse”.
Therefore, if the sneezes become excessive or your pet seems upset, lethargic or stressed, it could be a sign that something is wrong and a trip to the vets is in order. Let’s take a closer look at the possible causes of dog sneezing.
Why does my dog keep sneezing?
Sneezing due to excitement
Yes, you read it right - dogs sometimes sneeze out of pure excitement! Maybe you’re about to give them a treat, take them for a walk, or you’re seeing them for the first time in a while. Whatever the reason, an excited sneeze from your pooch is nothing to worry about. It’s basically just their way of saying “I can’t wait!” or “You make me happy!”. Cute, right?
Sneezing due to irritants
Have you noticed that your pup sneezes every time you wipe up in the kitchen, polish in the living room or spray your favourite scent? The ingredients in these common household items can trigger sneezes in your dog, particularly if he/she is a little sensitive.
If you think your dog keeps sneezing due to irritants, try and keep a mental log of what they’re reacting to. Check out the ingredients of each product he reacts to and try and work out the common denominator. That way, you can either cut out the ingredients completely or ensure your pup is out of the room when you use them.
Sneezing due to allergies
Allergies are nowhere near as common in dogs as they are in humans, but it’s still a possibility. Certain (though not all) allergies in dogs can cause sneezing, but they’re likely to be paired with other symptoms too - such as itching. Seasonal allergies are the most common in dogs. This will tend to last for around a month, causing excessive sneezing, scratching and irritated, watery eyes.
Sneezing due to tooth infections
It seems weird that a tooth problem could cause sneezing in dogs, but it’s totally true! A dog dental infection such a rotting tooth has the potential to irritate the nasal passage, causing random sneezes and nasal drainage. This is because the upper premolar’s roots are extremely close to a dog’s nasal passages.
Sneezing due to parasites
You’ve probably heard about ear mites and about dog mange, but did you know that those pesky parasites like to take residence in your dog’s nose too? This time, it’s the pneumonyssoides caninum, which can cause horrible itching and sneezing fits in dogs. They’re easy to catch, too - all it takes is contact with another, infected dog whilst out for a walk or getting dirt in their face.
Sneezing due to a virus
Although it’s quite a rare outcome of sneezing in dogs, it is possible that your dog has picked up an infectious disease which irritates the upper respiratory system. Most of the time, these types of infections primarily cause coughing, so look at for that too.
An infection called Aspergillus could also be to blame for excessive sneezing, nosebleeds and nose discharge in dogs. Ernest Ward, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, explains “Aspergillosis is an infection, growth, or allergic response caused by the Aspergillus fungus. Aspergillosis should be considered as a possible cause for any dog with a chronic or long-term nasal infection or condition.”
Sneezing due to a tumour
Nasal tumours might sound a tad scary, but they’re actually more common than you may think. Breeds with long noses like Collies and Irish Wolfhounds are particularly prone to them. As they obstruct the nasal pathway, they can cause affected dogs to sneeze a lot.
If you think your dog may be suffering from a nasal tumour, try not to worry too much - nasal tumours don’t develop into cancer most of the time. However, it’s still important to get your pooch checked out by a vet at the earliest opportunity.
Sneezing due to an airway obstruction or foreign object
Your dog might be sneezing simply because he’s got something stuck right up his snout! If your dogs a dedicated dirt digger, it might just be a touch of dirt, a seed or a bug. In this case, your pup should eventually sneeze it out of his own accord.
However, sometimes foreign objects, whatever they may be, will need to be removed by a vet. If your dog is sniffing like mad and trying to paw at his nose, it’s best to get him inspected by the vet.
What to do if your drop won’t stop sneezing
If your dog's sneezing is severe, violent, constant, and paired with blood or discharge, get to the vet as soon as you can. They’ll investigate to find the underlying cause, and treatment will be based on their diagnosis.
Infections are normally treated with antibiotics, while allergies will respond well to an antihistamine like Claritin or Benadryl. Nasal parasite treatment is quite straight-forward with dewormers and anti-inflammatories. Always consult your vet before using any of these medications on your dog. Lastly, nasal growths will be analysed by your vet and surgery or another treatment may be required.
Hopefully, your dog will be well on the way to a life free of ‘Aah-choo’s’ before you know it!