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Dog Sneezing? Here’s Why Dogs Sneeze – And What To Do About It

Dec 10, 2020
AUTHOR Dr. Addie Reinhard, DVM

Reviewed by Dr. Addie Reinhard, DVM

Dr. Addie Reinhard is an experienced companion animal veterinarian with a passion for providing reliable veterinary insight & expert advice to help pet parents better care for their pups.


  • Dog sneezing can be considered normal if it occurs occasionally or if it is associated with play or excitement.
  • Common causes of a sneezing dog include allergies, nasal irritants, and infections.
  • If you notice a dog sneezing a lot, you should consult with your veterinarian to determine the underlying cause of the sneezing.
  • If you notice other symptoms including dog runny nose, nose bleeds, nasal swelling, or coughing, you should contact your veterinarian immediately.

Why do dogs sneeze?

As a veterinarian, I often hear, “my dog keeps sneezing! What should I do?” Occasional dog sneezing can be normal, but if the sneeze becomes frequent or associated with other symptoms, then this could be a sign of an underlying medical condition. Most often, dog sneezing is caused by an irritant to the nasal passages, allergies, or infectious diseases. If your dog is only occasionally sneezing, you may not need to do anything about it. If your dog is sneezing a lot or if your dog has other symptoms, then you should definitely contact your veterinarian.

8 Causes of Dog Sneezing

You may be wondering, “why is my dog sneezing?” There are many different causes of dog sneezing, and I will review 8 of the most common causes for a sneezing dog.   

1. Nasal Irritants

One of the most common causes of dog sneezing is some kind of nasal irritant. This could include perfumes, fragrances, pollen, or dust. These substances may irritate the nose and cause your dog to sneeze.

2. Allergies

If you notice your dog sneezing a lot, this could be a sign that they have allergies. The majority of the time your dog is probably allergic to some type of tree or grass pollen. Occasionally, dogs can be allergic to dust mites in your house. Dogs with allergies may be more prone to recurrent skin infections and ear infections. If you suspect your dog has allergies, speak with your veterinarian to see if a fatty acid supplement could help decrease your pet’s allergy symptoms.

3. Play Sneezing

Many dogs sneeze when they get excited or play. If the sneeze is only occurring during play or excitement, then your dog is probably just having fun! If your dog is excited and playful, you may also notice them doing zoomies around the yard.

4. Foreign Body

Occasionally, things can get stuck in the nose causing dog sneezing. If your dog is pawing at their nose, this may be a sign that the dog sneezing is caused by a foreign body in the nose. Foxtails, plant material, and other substances can get stuck in your dog’s nose and cause excessive sneezing.

5. Reverse Sneezing

This type of sneeze sounds very different from a normal sneeze. It can sound rather alarming and will sound like your dog is rapidly sucking in air through their nose and throat. Reverse sneezing in dogs is most often caused by allergies. Occasional reverse sneezing may be normal, but if it is occurring more than a few times a week, it would be a good idea to speak with a veterinarian.

6. Nasal Cancer

Dog nose tumors are not extremely common, but they can cause sneezing. You will usually notice other symptoms along with the sneezing if your dog has a nasal tumor including nose bleeds, nose discharge, or nasal swelling.

7. Nasal Mites

Nasal mites in dogs are tiny parasites that can infect your dog’s nasal passage. These parasites aren’t extremely common, but they are another potential reason for dog sneezing. According to Merck Veterinary Manual, dogs with nasal mites may also have facial itching, reverse sneezing, runny nose, or nose bleeds.

8. Infections

There are several different viruses, bacteria, and fungi that can cause dog sneezing. Bordetella which is one of the bacteria that can cause kennel cough can cause coughing and sneezing in dogs. In addition, a tooth root infection can irritate the nasal passage causing sneezing. Certain viruses including distemper and parainfluenza can also cause dog sneezing. Fungal infections causing sneezing include Aspergillus, Cryptococcus, and Blastomycosis. 

Is sneezing a sign of kennel cough?

Sneezing can be a sign of kennel cough in dogs. If your dog has kennel cough, you will probably also notice a persistent dry cough that can sound almost like a honking goose. If the sneezing is occurring alone without a cough, then your dog most likely does not have kennel cough.

Should I be worried if my dog is sneezing?

If your dog sneezes occasionally, you probably shouldn’t be too worried. If the sneezing becomes excessive or if it is occurring together with other symptoms, you should contact your veterinarian. There may be an underlying cause of the sneezing that needs to be treated.

What does it mean when your dog sneezes a lot?

If your dog is sneezing a lot, it could mean that your dog has some underlying medical condition causing the sneezing. Occasional sneezes are most likely caused by irritants in the air, but if the sneeze becomes more frequent, this could be a sign that your dog has an infection, allergies, or something stuck in the nose. Only your veterinarian will be able to determine the underlying cause of the sneezing.

Can I give my dog Benadryl for sneezing?

Prior to giving any over-the-counter medications including Benadryl, you should consult with your veterinarian. Benadryl is often ineffective at treating dog sneezing and may be harmful to pets with certain medical conditions. Only your veterinarian will be able to decide if Benadryl is safe and necessary for your dog.

When should I take my dog to the vet for sneezing?

If you notice your dog is sneezing a lot, you should contact your veterinarian. It is especially important to visit your veterinarian if you notice any other symptoms including dog runny nose, nose bleeds, coughing, pawing at the nose, or nasal swelling as these symptoms suggest that there is an underlying medical condition that needs to be addressed.

Dr. Addie Reinhard, DVM

Member of Alpha Paw’s Board of Pet Experts

Dr. Addie Reinhard is an experienced companion animal veterinarian who lives in Lexington, KY with her husband, greyhound, and four cats. She graduated from the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, and currently practices in the central Kentucky region. Dr. Addie has special interests in preventative care, dermatology, and diseases, and she enjoys creating helpful educational resources related to these topics to help pet parents keep their four-legged family members happy and healthy. We love Dr. Addie’s passion for providing reliable veterinary insight and medical advice to help pet parents like us give their pups the happy & healthy lives they deserve!

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