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Why Is My Dog Sneezing So Much? 7 Common Reasons (Vet Answer)

Dog Sneeze

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Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo

Written by

Dr. Paola Cuevas

Vet, MVZ

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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While occasional sneezing is considered normal behavior in dogs, in general, any behavior that is done repeatedly is an indication that something more is going on. There are many reasons why a dog might be sneezing so much, and while some of them are not very serious concerns, others may represent serious health conditions. We will go through the most common reasons for your dog’s sneeze attacks and provide you with some information to help you properly care for your dog.

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What Is Sneezing?

Sneezing is a defense mechanism of the body. It’s a powerful and sudden expulsion of air from the nose and mouth, done in an effort to expel an irritation, like dust or other particles, out of the lining of the nasal cavity.

Sneezing dog on lawn
Image Credit: c3cinema, Shutterstock

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The Most Common Causes of Sneezing in Dogs

1. Airborne Irritants

Some substances that pollute the air in your pet’s environment can irritate their nose and cause sneezing. Air diffusers, scented candles, perfumes, dust, cooking with chiles and other spices, pesticides, and fertilizers all can be the cause.

In the case of airborne irritants, there are two important factors to note:
  • Sneezing from airborne irritants does not usually present with other symptoms.
  • Sneezing should stop a short time after the dog or the irritant is removed from the area.

2. Allergies

Allergies develop when your dog has become hypertensive to a certain protein that can incite an allergic reaction. Seasonal allergies tend to be caused by pollen present in the environment during a certain time of the year. Other environmental allergies can be caused by mold, dust, dandruff, which can be present year-round.

In addition, food can also be causing an allergic reaction. Although food allergies usually present as skin or gastrointestinal symptoms, in some rare cases they can cause sneezing. Allergies require some investigation and the management varies depending on the cause.

In the case of an allergy causing a dog to suddenly sneeze a lot, there are a few important factors to consider:
  • Hypersensitivities develop over time.Your dog might have not been allergic to a certain allergen before, but now it has developed an allergy. It cannot be cured, it needs to be managed.
  • Allergies tend to present with other symptoms such as red, watery eyes, itchy skin, runny stuffy nose, and in some cases even swollen eyelids.
  • Diagnosing and finding the cause of an allergy to properly manage it will require some investigation and it is highly recommended to take your dog to the veterinarian to help with the specifics of its case.
dog smelling flowers
Image Credit: Mylene2401, Pixabay

3. Infection

Nasal and respiratory infections caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungus can all be the cause of constant sneezing in your dog. In some cases, infections of a tooth can also drain into the nasal cavity. Some infections are more serious than others, some are also more contagious.

In the case of an infection causing a dog to suddenly sneeze a lot, there are three important factors to consider:
  • Your dog needs to be seen by a veterinarian that will prescribe an appropriate treatment according to the causative agent. Cooperate and follow the veterinarian’s prescription without making any changes.
  • Infections tend to present with other symptoms such as yellowish or bloody nasal discharge, reduced appetite, or the lack thereof.
  • Some respiratory infections are highly contagious, so it is better to isolate the dog from other pets and kids until it is checked by the veterinarian.

4. Nasal Mites

Nasal mites are small parasites that get into a dog’s nasal passage while they are digging or playing in the dirt. Nasal mites are parasites of the species Pneumonyssoides caninum or Pneumonyssus caninum and are found all over the world.

In the case of nasal mites causing a dog to suddenly sneeze a lot, there are three important factors to consider:
  • Nasal mites cause severe irritation and inflammation to the dog’s nasal passage (hence the sneezing) with other symptoms such as bloody mucus discharge, or nosebleed, reverse sneezing, and itchy face.
  • Your dog can transmit the mites to other animals but not to humans.
  • The veterinarian will need to check your dog and, in some cases, perform a nasal flush or even nasal endoscopy for diagnosis. The veterinarian will prescribe antiparasitic treatment to your dog.
A sneezing dog
Image Credit: Kristina King, Shutterstock

5. Nasal Tumors

Especially in older dogs, nasal tumors can be the cause of sneezing. Nasal tumors are small masses growing and developing in the nasal passage.

In this case, there are four important factors to consider:
  • The main characteristic of nasal tumor sneezing is that it tends to develop and worsen over time.
  • Sometimes nasal tumors present with unilateral bleeding of one of the nostrils.
  • Nasal tumors can be benign or malignant, so the veterinarian needs to decide on appropriate treatment. Sometimes they need to be removed, some cases might need chemotherapy.
  • Nasal tumors are more common in dogs with long nasal passages.

6. Breed

Brachycephalic or flat-faced dog breeds such as Bulldogs, Pugs, and Boston Terriers are more prone to sneezing and other respiratory issues due to the anatomy of their nasal passage.


7. Dog Communication

In some cases, sneezing is also part of the dog’s social behavioral repertory. A dog can sneezy when it is playing, signaling excitement or happiness. Sneezing has also been observed as a behavior entailing submission to other dogs or humans.

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Final Thoughts

The occasional sneeze in your dog is normal behavior; it’s a natural defense mechanism of the respiratory system and, in some cases, it is also part of the dog’s social behavioral behavior. However, if your dog is sneezing too much, it is usually due to an underlying cause. If you suspect the sneezing is caused by an irritant, try removing the irritant or dog from the area. If the dog continues sneezing a lot, it is best to take him for a veterinarian consultation to find the cause of his symptoms and give appropriate treatment to help your dog (and you) breathe in peace.


Featured Image Credit: memorable9, Pixabay

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