Why Is My Dog Sneezing a Lot?

You noticed your dog sneezing a lot? Read on for more information about what causes dogs to sneeze and when to be concerned.

Have you noticed your dog sneezing a lot? Read on for more information about what causes dogs to sneeze and when to be concerned.

Sneezing is a common occurrence in dogs and other pets, and many owners find it funny and cute. However, you may also be concerned about why your dog is sneezing and if it means something is wrong.

There are good reasons to be worried. Dogs rely on their noses for virtually everything they do, so nasal issues should be taken seriously.

In the article below, you’ll find more information about what might be causing your dog to sneeze. Read through these possibilities and use them to help you determine whether or not you should take your dog to the vet.

What Does a Dog Sneezing a Lot Mean?

The first thing to understand is that dogs make a lot of weird noises. For example, snorting is common in dogs that are brachycephalic, which means they have a broad, short skull, such as pugs and Boston terriers.

Sneezing is a forceful expulsion of air from the dog’s lungs through the nose and mouth. An occasionally sneezing dog is a completely normal sight and can have many causes, most of these are harmless. But what about if your dog keeps sneezing excessively?

Sneezing in dogs is caused by the same things that cause our sneezes. They’re involuntary reactions to an irritant. With that said, let’s look at the 5 main causes of sneezing in dogs.

1. Allergies

Do you notice your dog sneezing a lot in late spring or early summer? Seasonal allergies are a common cause of sneezing in dogs. If it is accompanied by watery eyes and occasional pawing of the face, he may have allergic rhinitis. This condition is linked to pollen production and also the proliferation of dust and mold.

Affected dogs develop a strong immune response to the allergen and typically sneeze, develop discharge from both nostrils, their eyes water and they may also start chewing on their paws.

In addition, canines are prone to food allergies just like humans. So, if a dog keeps sneezing, it can be due to the food he is eating. Watch carefully and if your dog’s sneezing seems to ramp up within a couple of hours after they have last eaten, this could be the reason why.

Statistics are currently telling us that about 10% of dogs suffer from some type of allergy.   That is a lot of pups considering how many people own a dog in the United States.

2. Sneezing Due to Irritants

With dogs sniffing around for a good part of their days, it’s normal for them to inhale some dust, pollen, and debris. They can eventually trigger a nerve that’s responsible for their facial muscles, resulting in a powerful sneeze.

A dog’s nose is equipped with special sensors that are meant to detect any foreign particles. When these sensors detect something that shouldn’t be there, a sneeze is simply their way of trying to get the irritant out and find some relief. In other words, sneezing is a defense mechanism that keeps their nose and body protected.

3. Play Sneezing

Perhaps one of the strangest reasons for dogs to sneeze is playtime. These types of sneezes are usually quick and a lot less aggressive than the real thing.

Researchers believe that this sneeze is actually part of a communication method that dogs have which is connected to playing with other dogs. It’s a way for them to remind their buddies that all the rough-housing is just pretended and there is no need to fight for real.

You may notice a dog sneeze just as the play begins to escalate and become more intense. The sneeze is a cue to the playmate to keep things fun, light, and safe.

Therefore, if you see your dog sneezing during a playdate, and there are no other symptoms, there is likely no need to worry.

4. Dental Disease

While tumors and foreign bodies can cause a dog to sneeze a lot, the vast majority are related to advanced dental disease.

During advanced dental disease, bone is being destroyed by bacteria and this destruction leads straight to the nasal passage. Signs of this condition include sneezing, nasal discharge, and bad breath odor.

This happens in advanced cases of gum disease in the upper canine teeth. Of course, you may be able to look in your dog’s mouth and see the problem, but you might not. Your best move is to talk to your veterinarian. Your pooch may be in pain and need urgent oral care.

Remember, dogs with unchecked gum inflammation may be at higher risk for heart, kidney, and liver disease. According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, 80% of adult dogs show symptoms of oral disease.

5. Nasal Tumor

In older dogs (usually above 7 years of age), nasal tumors are a possible cause of sneezing. Because these tumors are hidden inside the nasal cavity, they are more difficult to detect. Diagnostic imaging is the most effective means to confirm the presence of tumors or growths along the nasal passages of your dog.

Therefore, understanding the signs and symptoms of a nasal tumor is vital for early detection.

Along with a runny nose, excessive sneezing is another common sign. In addition, if your dog has always been a quiet sleeper and begins to snore loudly, it may be a sign of a tumor blocking the nasal airways. 

But don’t panic! Primary nasal tumors are uncommon, representing around 1-2% of all canine cancers. Many times, these tumors can be removed, but sometimes, they require chemotherapy or other forms of treatment to help them shrink.

How Do I Stop My Dog from Sneezing?

Sneezing Dog

You can’t stop your dog sneezing completely, just like you can’t stop yourself sneezing. However, 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.

The most important thing to check for if your dog doesn’t stop sneezing is whether there is any kind of foreign body in his nose. If it isn’t too far up your dog’s nose, you may be able to pull it out with tweezers. If the object is lodged or difficult to remove, you should call your vet for help.

Sometimes running a humidifier near where your dog sleeps can help cut down on dry environments that can agitate your dog’s nose.


Occasional sneezing in dogs does not usually require a vet visit. All dogs sneeze every now and then, especially if they get excited during playtime or when socializing with other dogs.

However, when your dog is sneezing a lot for no apparent reason, there might be a more serious cause.

Remember, never give your dog human medication or resort to home remedies if your dog is sneezing and has a runny nose.  Many human medications are highly toxic to dogs and could have fatal consequences if your dog ingests them.

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.