What Are the Causes of Dog Sneezing?

By Naomi Millburn

Intermittent sneezing in canines is typical. Immoderate levels of sneezing accompanied by other symptoms, however, can sometimes signify health concerns such as allergies, infection, upper airway obstruction and tumors. If your dog's sneezing seems excessive, a trip to the veterinarian is essential.

Canine Sneezing is Often Harmless

All canines sneeze once in a while, according to veterinarian Bruce Fogle, author of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Complete Care Dog Manual. Sneezing typically occurs as a reaction to upper airway irritation. If you hear your pooch sneeze, there's a good chance that it's just the harmless way his body is dealing with this upper respiratory tract irritation. Dogs sometimes sneeze when their owners try out new household cleaning formulas or purchase new carpeting, for example.

Possible Warning Signs

While occasional sneezing is generally nothing to panic about, excessive sneezing can sometimes signify various medical ailments. If your dog sneezes and emits a heavy discharge, it could be a sign of a health problem such as allergies or infection. The same goes for sneezing that includes a little bit of blood. If anything about your dog's sneezing seems abnormal or excessive, take him to his veterinarian.

Sneezing Due to Allergies

If you're worried because your dog is sneezing excessively, seasonal allergies from things such as plants, grass pollen and tree pollen could be responsible. Look for other indications that allergies could be behind the sneezing. These include excessive scratching, foot chewing and eye watering. If allergies are the reason for your pet's sneezing, you probably won't observe blood or anything similar to pus inside of his nasal discharge. Nasal discharge is a common sign of canine allergies.

If you think your dog has allergies, talk to a veterinarian about finding a suitable management option. Vets often suggest antihistamines for canine allergies.

Infectious Diseases

Infectious diseases also cause excessive sneezing in canines. If your pet has an infection that relates to his upper respiratory tract, he'll probably sneeze. Some examples of infectious diseases that trigger sneezing in dogs include both distemper and kennel cough. Owners can easily differentiate between sneezing that is caused by infection and sneezing that is caused by allergies. The former typically produces nasal discharge with blood or a substance that looks similar to pus.

Consider Upper Airway Obstruction

If your pet's sneezing seems immoderate, he might be suffering from an obstruction of the upper airways. Many different things can bring upon nasal passage irritation and sneezing. If your dog has a surplus of tissue in his upper airways, sneezing could result. The presence of foreign bodies and polyps can lead to nasal passage irritation. If a random item from your home found its way into your poor pet's nose, don't be surprised by all of the persistent sneezing that might ensue. He also might display symptoms such as nose pawing and head shaking.

The Possibility of Tumors

Tumors can cause sneezing in canines, although this is rather rare. If your pet has an intranasal tumor, he might emit bloody nasal discharge. This discharge, however, will only appear from a single side of his nose. When tumors trigger sneezing in dogs, the sneezing usually begins as an infrequent thing. It gradually turns more and more frequent over the course of weeks or perhaps even months, however. If you're concerned that your pet's sneezing might be due to a tumor, take him to the veterinarian without delay.