Bless you. Does your puppy sound like they’ve been face-down in the pepper? Are they sneezing a lot? Maybe it’s when they’re excited, or having an episode of the zoomies, or your dog might have a runny nose or they’re pawing and scratching their nose. What might it mean? And should you be worried?

Most of the time a case of the sneezes isn’t a cause for concern, but there are some medical issues which can be worth looking into and are definitely worth knowing about. 

In this article, we’ll be filling you in on the reasons why dogs sneeze and why your dog is sneezing so much. We’ll also cover allergies that can make your dog sneeze, what foreign bodies contribute to sneezing, talk about infections related to sneezing, and give you a handy list of things to look for and whether you should be worried if your puppy is sneezing a lot.

Sneezing can be a normal part of dog communication, and their body language tells us a lot about what they’re feeling, so sneezing isn’t always a medical concern. Download a free trial of the Zigzag app to learn more about what your puppy might be trying to tell you, as well as a personalised training programme based around their developmental milestones, covering socialisation, toilet training, how to cope with being home alone and more! We also have a team of expert puppy coaches on hand to guide you through the process of puppy training. You can talk to them online or on the phone, 7 days a week about literally anything puppy related.

poodle face looking up
Photo by Thirteen .J on Unsplash

Why is my dog sneezing so much? 9 reasons why

Why does my dog keep sneezing you ask? There are various reasons why your dog sneezes, ranging from an amusing quirk of canine body language to allergies and even some medical concerns associated with sneezing in dogs. This medical condition may be caused by something up your dog’s nose, but they can also get colds and flu just like us, leading them to sneeze.

1. They have something up their nose

Is your dog scratching at their nose and sneezing? They could be trying to get something out. Foxtails, otherwise known as grass seeds, can get in all kinds of places on dogs, commonly on their feet, causing them to lick their paws, but yes also up their nose. Pollen can also get up your dog’s nose and cause a fit of the sneezes. 

2. Sneezing due to excitement

Yep, believe it or not, sneezing can also occur from something exciting like playing with your dog,  often referred to as play sneezing. Sneezing can also happen as an anticipatory response, when you pick up your dog’s lead, they can get excited because they know they’re about to go out for a nice stroll. 

Learn more about dog communication by reading our puppy body language article. There are lots to learn about those little puppy quirks.

3. Stress-related sneezing

Sneezing is a common way that dogs release a build-up of stress. Stress is an all-encompassing term and can relate to eustress and distress. Eustress typically happens when a dog is in learning mode and isn’t a negative thing, so if your dog sneezes during a training session that they’re enjoying, this can be why. 

When feeling distressed or after experiencing a stressful event, Your dog may also sneeze as a way to let go of the stress they felt. Other signs of stress include yawning and paw licking. 

4. Reverse sneezing

Technical term alert! Paroxysmal respiration to give it the official name, is where instead of sneezing air out, your dog sneezes in and pulls air in rapidly. It sounds like a backward or reverse sneeze, or a snort. They can sometimes get their breath caught and struggle to stop the reverse sneezing. 

Chest and throat rubs help to get rid of reverse sneezing if your dog suddenly starts. 

5. Your dog is sneezing because they have a cold

Dogs get colds and flu too! If your dog has a runny nose and is sneezing as well as coughing, then they might have a cold, or kennel cough

6. They’re allergic to something 

Environmental and seasonal allergies can often cause dogs to sneeze, yes they get hayfever too, but they can also be allergic, or at least, not like strong odours like room fresheners, or strong washing detergents used on their bedding. 

Food allergies are also worth looking at, as along with other symptoms affecting their skin and coat, they can also make a dog sneeze.

7. They have a nasal parasite

Yes, nose mites are a thing, yuk! Canine nasal mites will cause a dog to sneeze. There will typically be other signs like bleeding and pawing at their nose. 

8. They have dental issues

Bad teeth and abscesses can contribute to your dog’s sneezing. This is due to the proximity of their teeth to the nasal passage, and the way infection will move around the body. 

9. They have a nasal tumour

If your dog has a nasal tumour, it will be pretty painful up there and will cause your dog to sneeze. This is more prevalent in senior dogs, and you may see blood dripping from your dog’s nose.

american bulldog looking at camera
Photo by Lucas Ludwig on Unsplash

Why are allergies causing my dog to sneeze?

Allergies cause a dog to sneeze due to the build of antibodies, including histamine in the bloodstream. Allergies are typically seasonal, environmental or food related. You’ll typically see other signs of allergy like runny eyes, paw licking or ear scratching too. 

Seasonal allergies

Dogs get hay fever just like us, and seasonal allergies could be why your dog is sneezing so much. If they are sneezing when out on a walk or after they come back, then it could be seasonal allergies causing this. 

Food allergies

Dogs with food allergies will probably sneeze more frequently than dogs without them. Food allergies, while more likely to impact the skin, coat, and digestive system than the respiratory system, can cause sneezing in susceptible dogs. If your dog’s sneezing appears to increase within a couple of hours of their last meal, this could be the cause.

Check out our articles on puppy nutrition, raw feeding for puppies and homemade diets for more info on what to feed your puppy. 

Environmental allergies

Dust and other allergens in your dog’s environment can cause sneezing. The allergic reaction causes histamine levels in your dog to rise, and a symptom of this is sneezing, though you might see your dog itching and scratching too. 

If you think your dog has allergies and that’s what’s causing them to sneeze there are a few things you can do 

  • First consult your vet – they’re the experts on this kind of thing
  • Keep a diary of your dog’s sneezing, what they ate and what they did that day so you can pinpoint what might be causing them to sneeze.
  • Try an elimination diet – Homemade diets under veterinary supervision work well as elimination diets. 
  • Invest in an air purifier. This will take dust and pollen out of your dog’s environment.
  • Remove plug-in air fresheners, reed diffusers and other strong fragrances from your home
  • Use unscented washing and cleaning products
  • Avoid using fragranced dog shampoo when you give your dog a bath

Is something stuck up my dog’s nose making them sneeze?

Foreign bodies like foxtails, pollen or even broken pieces of toy and tiny stones can all get stuck up a dog’s nose and cause sneezing. It’s no surprise that you’d sneeze if you had something up there, and it’s the same for our dogs.

Being able to look up your dog’s nose is going to be tricky, especially if you have a dog with small nostrils like a French Bulldog or Pug. If you can see something poking out the end of your dog’s nose, or they are pawing and scratching at it, chances are something is stuck up there. Your Vet can take a look with a special scope and remove the foreign body if it’s there.

Can infections cause my dog to sneeze?

If your dog has other infections in their facial area, such as dental or nasal, then sneezing can be a symptom. Let’s learn a bit more about how infections can make a dog sneeze. 

Bacterial or viral nasal infections

Generally, nasal bacterial infections come about after a dog has had a viral infection related to its nose or respiratory system. If your dog is sneezing and clear liquid comes out, it’s usually a sign of a virus affecting their sinuses and nasal cavity, like Kennel Cough

If your dog has an upper respiratory tract bacterial infection, then it can be treated with antibiotics. We suggest speaking to your vet if your dog is affected as they would be best to advise. 

Fungal nasal infections 

Your dog may be sneezing due to fungal rhinitis. Most commonly this is a type of fungus called Aspergillus fumigatus, which is present in soil and it mainly affects long-nosed dog breeds. Other symptoms of a fungal nasal infection are blood or mucus coming from the nose, discolouration to the front of the nose, and reverse sneezing. 

You will need your vet to confirm if your dog has a fungal nose infection, and they will usually give topical cream as a treatment. 

Dental and tooth infections

If your dog has bad teeth, maybe an abscess or gum disease, then the infection can move up to the nasal cavity, causing pain and irritation and causing a dog to sneeze. 

You might also recognise these by your dog suddenly having really bad breath, it’s a sure sign of dental problems! 

Be sure to brush your dog’s teeth as part of a regular grooming routine to ensure they stay healthy.

When should I be worried about my dog’s sneezing?

If your dog shows any of the following signs along with sneezing then we recommend consulting your vet 

  • There is a discharge coming from your dog’s nose, this might be clear yellow, or it might also be bloody
  • Your dog is showing other signs of ill health like itching or scratching
  • Your dog is not eating or drinking
  • Your dog is vomiting or coughing
  • The sneezing has come on rapidly and is not stopping
  • Your dog is shaking, or struggling to breathe.

Sneezing in dogs is often just a normal bodily response, but after going through our article, if you’re worried about your dog’s sneezing, it’s best to ask your vet rather than Dr Google. 

black and white puppy
Photo by Vico Pradipta on Unsplash

If you’re interested in all aspects of your dog’s health, you might want to read our articles on cloudy eyes in puppies, or bloodshot eyes. Had enough of the gore? Alright then, how about teaching your puppy tricks, or learning about puppy agility

Download the Zigzag puppy app today for tonnes of other information about your puppy’s health and training. We have a dedicated programme set out to give you the right training lessons at the right time for your puppy’s emotional and cognitive development. While every dog is different, we have created our puppy training programmes to work best with your particular dog breed. After all, Terriers want to chase and tug, and Collies want to herd, right? Let’s work with that, not against it! 

We understand that bringing up a puppy can sometimes be a lonely experience, so we have a dedicated team of puppy coaches on hand to talk to you about your puppy 7 days a week.