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A sneeze from your dog can be an adorable moment, especially when it results in a squeaky little “ah-choo!”
Like humans, dogs get little tickles in their noses from time to time. For the most part, it’s nothing to be concerned about, but there are incidents when it could signal that there’s something else happening.
Below we will cover when a sneeze goes from cute to concerning.
Why is Your Dog Sneezing?
There are many reasons your best bud could be sneezing!
A sneeze here and there should be no cause of concern, especially if you have a pup with a respiratory-related condition, like pugs, Boston terriers, or English bulldogs who often sneeze or wheeze regularly due to their genetics.
Another possible cause of dog sneezes is seasonal allergies. Or it could just be something as simple as a tickle on the nose.
Other reasons why your dog may be sneezing include:
1. Play sneezing: If your dog is enjoying time with a friend and gets very excited or hyper, he will sneeze to communicate his joy! It’s a healthy sign and your dog’s way of signaling to you and to his puppy pal that he’s having a great time.
2. Something unusual in their nose: dogs are naturally curious and often get their bearings through smell. It’s not unusual for your dog to get a blade of grass, a bug, or maybe some soil up to his nose after a fun adventure. So, he may be sneezing to relieve this discomfort. However, if you notice your puppy is clawing at his nose excessively, he might need medical attention to get whatever it is dislodged.
3. Irritants: Dogs find perfume, aerosols, hairspray, air freshener, and household cleaners very irritating. These substances make their sensitive noses tickle and cause dogs to sneeze. Be mindful of what you’re spraying and do your best to do it as far away from your pup as possible.
4. Nasal mites: Ah, the “lice” of the dog world. Just as lice are irritating and a burden, so are nasal mites. The only difference is that they don’t stick to fur or hair, like lice. Instead, they are passed through nasal touch. They make themselves at home in your dog’s nasal cavity and wreak total havoc, causing discharge, sneezing fits, and teary eyes. These little mites are difficult to spot, so be sure to know the signs and get your pup to the vet.
5. Canine influenza: Commonly called “the dog flu” among pet owners, canine influenza is highly contagious and can be spread from dog to dog through touch or through dogs’ sneezes, drool, or an already contaminated object like a water bowl. Dogs that get this will be lethargic, cough, sneeze and have a thick nasal drip. If your dog suffers from canine influenza, he will recover just fine within 2-3 weeks but, it is imperative to isolate him and seek medical attention first.
6. Infection: Dogs can get nasal infections through mold, dust, hay, or even grass. These infections are called aspergillosis and the symptoms are sneezing, nasal drip or nasal bleeding, little to no appetite, or a swollen nose. You’ll need a visit to the vet if your dog gets an infection, where they’ll likely be given some antibiotics and/or antifungus medication.
7. Tumors: While a less likely cause, dogs can get cancer of the nose, which will result in them having difficulty breathing through the nose, loud breath, bloody discharge, excessive coughing, and a swollen face. This type of cancer can be pretty harsh, so if you’re noticing these symptoms, especially difficulty breathing, take your good boy or girl to the vet.
Should You Be Concerned?
Before you ring the alarm bells, monitor your dog’s behavior.
If your bud has a sneeze here and there, they are likely totally fine. However, if you notice a big change in your pup’s behaviors or unusual discharge as mentioned above, it can be a cause for concern and you need to act.
One thing to be very careful of is when your dog is sneezing and pawing its nose, as he may have something stuck. That can be very dangerous.
What To Do If Your Dog Is Sneezing Uncontrollably?
An uncontrollable sneeze fit can be very alarming and considered unusual in most instances.
First, check that your dog has not been exposed to an irritant or exploring in the garden. If that’s not the case, and the sneezing is accompanied by other new symptoms, your pup may have a medical issue.
As mentioned above, the canine influenza is super, super contagious amongst dogs, so it could be that he’s contracted that if he’s sneezing, bleeding, tired, and not hungry.
Alternatively, if your dog is sneezing uncontrollably, he may have picked up the common cold. Like for humans, it makes the dog sneeze, have a runny nose, possibly run a fever, and be sleepy.
For the most part, a common dog cold will pack itself up and move on after a few days or a week and isn’t something to stress too much over. However, it’s always a good idea to check in with your vet, especially if you have a dog that has a compromised immune system or is either very young or very old.
Having said that, there’s is not an extensive list of things you can do to ease a dog sneezing fit. Instead, just be mindful of the products you use around the house, be mindful of walks during allergy season, and speak to other dog owners that you spend time with to make sure their dogs are feeling a-okay before a play date.
The best thing you can do is know the signs and be prepared when and if your dog’s symptoms change.
Is Your Dog Actually Sneezing?
One behavior that paw-parents should be prepared for, and that’s usually mistaken for a sneeze, is the notorious reverse sneeze.
The reverse sneeze is when a dog starts making noisy snorting sounds repeatedly and quickly.
It’s literally a reverse sneeze because the air is essentially pulled in through the nose and causes the dog to react through snorting, gagging, and discomfort. It does sort of resemble choking, but as scary as it looks, it’s pretty much the same thing as a normal sneeze and won’t hurt your pup!
There isn’t a specific cause for the reverse sneeze! It could be:
- An irritant in the air or dust.
- A change in breathing patterns, like after a relaxing nap.
- Seasonal allergies can trigger a reverse sneeze as can a sudden drop or rise in the temperature.
- Tight collars or restrictive leashes will cause reverse sneeze, so a harness is a good alternative for this.
- Exercise. Some dogs get overexcited or over-exerted and can reverse sneeze.
While most reverse sneezes will stop naturally, you can help by:
- Staying calm and reminding yourself that there is nothing to worry about. Your dog will be okay.
- Gently massage your dog’s throat
- Gently and for a short period cover your dog’s nostrils, which will encourage them to swallow
- Use your hand to gently press on their tongue to open the airways.
- Blow softly on your pup’s face.
There are a lot of irritants in a dog’s world!
Like humans, all dogs sneeze from time to time. That’s a normal way to relieve their blocked-up or sensitive noses.
Keep an eye on your bestie and educate yourself on concerning signs so you know when to visit the vet.
Also, it’s okay to get it wrong! You know your dog well and if you feel he’s sneezing way too much or displaying concerning behaviors, ease your worries with a quick visit to the vet to discuss.
If there is nothing wrong, well then, phew! Bless you!