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Why Does My Dog Sneeze a Lot?

Posted: 06/26/2024 | BY: Jenna Bruce | Categories: Dog , Health problems , Pet care

Have you ever wondered, “Why does my dog sneeze a lot?” While sneezing is a rather common occurrence in dogs, there are instances where excessive sneezing may warrant a trip to the vet.

Since there are many reasons our pups sneeze, let’s take a deeper dive to learn the difference between an innocent sneeze and something that may indicate an underlying health condition.

Why Do Dogs Sneeze? – 7 Common Causes

Just like there are many reasons people may sneeze, our dogs sneeze for a variety of reasons as well. Here are 7 of the most common:


Sneezing is often an indicator of an allergy to something in the environment. If your pup sneezes during the spring and summer months mainly when the pollen count is high, it may be an indicator that she has allergies. If her sneezing is accompanied by scratching and watery eyes, that’s almost a sure indicator.

Airborne Irritants

Some pups are sensitive to airborne irritants like dust, smoke, or off-gassing from household chemicals and scented candles. These tiny particles can get trapped in their nasal passages, causing them to sneeze.

Play Sneezing

Dogs are always speaking to each other through communication channels we humans just don’t understand. For instance, dogs will ‘play sneeze’ as a sign of happiness. This sneeze alerts other dogs that they are exhibiting play behavior. If you notice your pup sometimes sneezes at doggy daycare or at the dog park but he or she has no other symptoms, there is most likely nothing to worry about.

Reverse Sneezing

Reverse sneezing in dogs is a bit of a head-scratcher. It can be a response to a variety of things including excitement, irritants or inflammation. It is called reverse sneezing because that is exactly how it appears, instead of sudden outbursts of air through the nose, there are sudden ‘inbursts’ of air through a pup’s nose. If you’ve never seen it before it can be a bit startling and you may even think they are having trouble breathing. Though it looks and sounds dramatic, the episode will usually last only seconds.

Nasal Infection

Upper respiratory infections, whether bacterial or fungal in nature, can cause dogs to sneeze. Sometimes they can even originate from an infected tooth. If your dog has an infection of any kind, you will typically see other symptoms such as watery eyes, bloody or mucoid discharge from their nose, lethargy and a lack of appetite. 

Foreign Body

Dogs explore the world with their mouth and nose. So it should come as no surprise that sometimes, with all that sniffing, they may get a foreign body lodged in their nostril. This could be a blade of grass, dirt, foxtails or small sticks. These objects cause a lot of irritation, causing your dog to sneeze repeatedly. Sometimes the sneezing is all it takes to remove the object, but sometimes the object will need to be removed by your vet. If you think your dog inhaled something, keep a close eye on them.

Nasal Mites

These tiny parasites can irritate your dog’s nose, often picked up when digging or rubbing in dirt. Signs of nasal mites include a bloody or thick discharge from your dog’s nose and frequent sneezing.

We should also mention that flat-faced dogs, or Brachycephalic dogs, are more prone to sneezing due to the compressed nasal passages. The most common brachycephalic breeds with breathing or sneezing tendencies are Pugs, Boston Terriers, and English Bulldogs.

When Should You See the Vet?

As you can see, there are plenty of answers to the question, “why does my dog sneeze a lot” and most of the answers are quite benign. So when should a dog sneezing be cause for concern?

Whenever sneezing is accompanied by other symptoms, it could indicate that another more serious health issue is going on that warrants a trip to the vet.


If your dog sneezes and blood comes out, it’s a sign of a serious problem in their nasal passages. This could be due to foreign objects stuck in their nose, tumors, or infections.

Sneezing and Coughing

If your dog is both sneezing and coughing, it could indicate a more serious underlying condition. This might be caused by infections, kennel cough, canine influenza, or even lung parasites.

Sneezing and Wheezing

Wheezing along with sneezing suggests a potential lung problem that needs immediate veterinary attention. This could be asthma or other respiratory issues.

Important Note: If you notice any of these signs in your dog, it’s crucial to take them to a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment. Early intervention is key for a speedy recovery.

Final Thoughts

Why does my dog sneeze a lot? It could be anything from a foreign object, allergies, airborne irritants, an infection and more. Usually there is no cause for concern. However, if your dog has any other symptoms such as bloody or mucous discharge, lethargy, fever, etc., it’s best to bring them into the vet to be checked out.

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The information contained on this blog is intended for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. It is not a substitute for professional veterinary care. Always consult with your veterinarian before making any changes to your pet's health care or treatment plan.

The authors of this blog are not veterinarians and do not claim to be experts in pet health. The information provided here is based on our own experiences and research, as well as information from reputable sources. However, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this information.

We encourage you to do your own research and consult with your veterinarian before making any decisions about your pet's health.

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