Why do dogs sneeze?

Your dog could be sneezing for lots of different reasons but one of the most common reasons a dog sneezes is to get rid of something that is irritating their nose, like dust, aerosols or pollen (just like humans do). Sneezing could also be a sign that your dog has something stuck up their nose like a blade of grass, dirt or a leaf.

Other things that could be causing your dog to sneeze include allergies to airborne allergens or certain foods, nasal infections and nasal mites. Excessive sneezing can also be a sign of something serious like a tumour but this is more rare.

Sometimes dogs sneeze as a sign of excitement or playfulness. This “play sneeze” is another way your dog expresses themselves, just like wagging their tail or barking.

What should I do if my dog keeps sneezing?

Occasional sneezing is normal but if your dog is sneezing excessively, violently or uncontrollably, or if they are showing any other symptoms like bleeding from their nose, expelling discharge, pawing at their nose or have a fever, you should contact a vet.

Remember, if you think your dog is having trouble breathing contact a vet right away. When your daytime vet is closed you can find your nearest Vets Now pet emergency clinic here.

If you’re unsure whether your dog needs veterinary treatment our vets can offer some advice via video chat. Find out more about our Video Vets Now service here.

A dog giving a vet nurse a paw for Vets Now article on dog sneezing
Dog sneezing is common and often nothing to worry about but there are times when you should call a vet

Is sneezing a sign of kennel cough?

While a persistent hacking cough is the most recognisable symptom of kennel cough, sneezing is also a possible symptom. Find out more about kennel cough here.

Should I be worried if my dog is sneezing?

It depends really. If your dog sneezes once or twice but otherwise appears well then it’s unlikely to be anything to worry about. But you know your dog better than anyone and if you think they’re distressed or unwell then it’s worth seeking advice from a vet. There are times when sneezing could be a sign of something more serious or life-threatening, like breathing difficulties or something stuck up their nose, and this would definitely be a time to take action and call a vet.

What if my dog is sneezing blood?

If you see blood when your dog sneezes always get in touch with a vet. Sneezing blood can be a symptom of different things including injury, nasal mites and tumours. Whatever the issue, bleeding when sneezing isn’t something you should ignore. Contact your vet who will be able to diagnose the problem and start any necessary treatment.

What can I give my dog for sneezing and runny nose?

Please never give your dog human medication or resort to home remedies if your dog is sneezing and has a runny nose. While we have the option to self medicate when we’re feeling unwell, it’s not the same for dogs. Many human medications are highly toxic to dogs and could have tragic consequences if your dog ingests them. Even if the medication isn’t toxic, there is still a real risk of accidentally giving your dog too much. Your vet will be able to advise you on any possible treatment for your dog’s symptoms so get in touch with them before giving your dog anything.

Labrador sniffing a yellow flower for Vets Now article on dog keeps sneezing
If you're concerned about your dog's sneezing it's always best to contact a vet for advice

Why does my dog sound like he's sneezing?

If your dog sounds like they’re sneezing then, chances are, that’s what it is. But there are times when a dog’s sneeze isn’t really a sneeze. Sometimes dogs sneeze as a sign of excitement or playfulness. This “play sneeze” is another way your dog expresses themselves, just like wagging their tail or barking. Some dogs experience “reverse sneezing” which is irritation of the soft palate, throat, nose or sinuses. When dogs take a sharp intake of air it results in a snorting or sneezing sound. It looks scary to owners but it’s not usually harmful to dogs that don’t have underlying health issues. But if you’re concerned it’s always best to contact a vet for advice.

If you think the “sneezing” sounds could be a sign of abnormal breathing always contact a vet right away as any kind of breathing problems should be considered an emergency. If your vet is closed, find your nearest Vets Now pet emergency clinic here.

Why does my dog sneeze when excited?

Some dogs “sneeze” as a sign that they want fun. In the same way that they wag their tail or show other physical signs of playfulness or excitement, this “play sneeze” reaction can be a signal to you that your pup thinks it’s playtime or they’re excited about something (like walkies).

How can I prevent my dog sneezing?

Sneezing is a normal reflex so it’s impossible to prevent it completely. But things like vacuuming regularly and avoiding spraying aerosols like deodorant or hairspray in the same room as your dog can help minimise the chance of irritation. It’s also a good idea to regularly check your dog when they’ve been in long grass to make sure nothing has got stuck, like a grass seed or foxtail. Finally, regular check-ups at your vet will help pick up on any issues as quickly as possible.

How can I stop my dog sneezing?

You can’t stop your dog sneezing completely, just like you can’t stop yourself sneezing. If they sneeze a handful of times every now and again it’s most likely an entirely normal reaction to something that has irritated their nose. If it’s something in the air that is irritating their nose you could try opening the windows to ventilate the room or take them outside if that’s possible.

But, if the sneezing is excessive or accompanied by other symptoms like wheezing or bleeding the best thing you can do is get in touch with a vet and so any underlying issues to be treated.

If you would like some advice on dog sneezing you can book an online video chat with our vets here.