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Why Is My Dog Sneezing So Much? Everything You Need To Know - PawSafe

Why Is My Dog Sneezing So Much? Everything You Need To Know

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

Why Is My Dog Sneezing sneezing french bulldog in leaves

Why is my dog sneezing? When it’s cute and when to be worried.

When your dog starts sneezing more than usual, it can turn into a symphony of sniffles that raises both concern and curiosity. Dog sneezing is a common occurrence, but sometimes the frequency and intensity can leave owners asking, “Why is my dog sneezing so much?” 

From reverse sneezing episodes to a bout of dog kennel cough, sneezing can be a signal from your dog’s body that something’s up. Whether it’s a reaction to dust mites after a joyful dig in the park, a case of the dog flu, or even allergies kicking in, understanding the sneezy spells is essential for any pet parent. 

By referring to medical and veterinary experts like Dr. Marut Songu  on sneezing (sternutation in medical terms) we will delve into what the experts say about excessive sneezing in dogs. So, let’s dive into the world of dog sneezes, sniffles, and the occasional alarming sneeze that ends in a spot of blood.

So, Why is My Dog Sneezing a Lot?

Frequent sneezing in dogs can be due to various factors, including allergies, irritants like dust, or more serious conditions such as infections or nasal blockages. Occasional reverse sneezing is also common and usually harmless. Persistent or bloody sneezing warrants a veterinary check-up to rule out any underlying issues.

Occasional sneezing in dogs is as normal as it is in humans, often just a reaction to a little tickle in their nose. But when your dog keeps sneezing, it could be a clue that they’re dealing with something that needs attention. Common culprits include allergies, which can cause reactions similar to those in humans, and irritants like smoke, dust, or household sprays that can lead to sneezing and a runny nose.

Reverse sneezing, a peculiar but often harmless event, can also lead to dramatic sneezing fits. It’s characterized by snorting or gasping sounds and is usually caused by irritation or inflammation of the nasal, pharyngeal, or sinus passages.

Sneezing that’s followed by a bloody discharge, however, could point to more serious issues such as a nasal infection, a foreign body lodged in the nose, or even a tumor. Dogs who’ve been reverse sneezing for several days, seem congested, or sneeze blood should be evaluated by a veterinarian promptly.

If you’ve come back from boarding only to find your dog sneezing more than usual, or if there’s a sudden onset of sneezing fits after being outside, consider the environment they were in. Have they encountered new plants, pollen, or even a different climate that might have stirred up this reaction?

Sneezing, while often benign, can sometimes be the first sign of health issues. Paying attention to when and how often your dog sneezes can help you determine whether it’s time to switch from home remedies to a vet visit.

12. Common Reasons A Dog Might Be Sneezing A Lot Or Can’t Stop Sneezing

sneezing boxer dog outside in grass
  1. Environmental Irritants

If your dog is sneezing more than usual, there may be plenty of culprits in the home and garden environment. Common causes of sneezing include the smell of anything that irritates their sensitive noses. This may include:

  • Cigarette smoke
  • Deodorant
  • Perfume
  • Strong Cleaning products
  • Dust

2. Foreign Objects

On occasion, a foreign object may become lodged or stuck in your dog’s nose when it’s sniffing about; the way dogs love to do. 

It could be a tiny blade of grass or anything that can fit inside the nasal cavity or trachea. 

The most typical sign of a foreign object is pawing at one side of the face or discharge from only one nostril.  

You can remove the foreign object yourself with a pair of tweezers if you can see it, but if something is blocking the airway, you will need a vet for an inhaled foreign body procedure.

3. Wanting to Play

Dogs sneezing at play is a common sight. Bouts of sneezing while playing, or “play sneezing,” are thought to be a form of communication. It may be a way for dogs to tell each other that they are having a good time, and it’s all in good fun.

As Dr. Bonnie Beaver writes in her book on Canine Behavior, “the sneeze is used by some dogs when excited and when soliciting play.”

On the other hand, remember that when dogs are playing, they are often kicking up grass and dust, which might irritate their airways. This may be an underlying cause of play sneezing.

Another possibility  is that they often curl their lips while pretending to growl. This action may stimulate the sneeze response.

Nevertheless, there is evidence to suggest that it is a common form of communication.

4.  Communication, Excitement,  and Attention

Sneezing as communication is one of the most ignored signals you may be receiving from your dog. We all know wagging tails (usually) mean happy mutts. But are they trying to tell us something when they sneeze?

A youtube video below a dog appears to show a Pit Bull nodding or shaking his head when asked a series of questions by his owner. He seems to shake his head for “no” and nod for “yes.”

Training a dog to respond with basic speech signals is increasingly common, especially using the AAC method pioneered by Speech Pathologist Christina Hunger. But teaching dogs to use our words often means we don’t try to understand their words.

If you examine the video with the talking Pit Bull, you may notice something interesting. Often, when he nods for “yes,” his nod looks a lot like a small fake sneeze.

There is some scientific evidence that a little sneeze might be your dog’s way of saying ‘yes!’ or ‘I agree.’ In fact, a  study on African Wild Dogs uncovered similar behavior.

A pack rallying together who engaged in a lot of sneezing would typically set out to hunt. On the other hand, if not many pack members were sneezing, they tended to all take a nap instead. 

This suggests that deep in the canine genome, a sneeze might still mean “yes! That’s a great idea! Count me in!”

So, if you grab the leash or ask your dog if they want a treat, you may sometimes see a small sneeze of excitement and approval.

But sneezing isn’t always done to communicate. The AKC argues that dogs “fake sneeze” to get your attention or to encourage you to play.

The “fake sneeze” can also be a learned behavior. Sometimes dogs do something unintentionally that elicits a positive response from their owners, such as cooing and cuddles. The dog may then periodically display the same behavior to try to get the same response. 

In short, iIf your dog sneezes on you, it could be for many reasons, but it is often for getting your attention and encouraging you to play.

5. Dogs May Sneeze More Because of their sensitive noses

Dogs have a sense of smell estimated to be between 10 000 to 100 000 times stronger than a human’s. This makes their noses far more easily irritated by pollutants or inhalants and can cause sneezing whenever there is something aggravating in the air. 

Short-faced breeds like Pugs or Bulldogs are also more sensitive to mild irritants than their longer-nosed counterparts.

Since deodorants, smoke, or perfume can all have very strong smells, consider an air purifier in the home if the problem is chronic.

6. Kennel Cough

Like humans, dogs can catch the flu. The canine influenza virus, also known as dog flu or kennel cough, is caused by the transmission of pathogens in respiratory droplets through sneezing, coughing, or sharing bowls or other items. 

For this reason, it is most often seen in places where dogs are crowded in small areas, such as shelters, grooming parlors, or kennels. 

Symptoms of dog flu or Kennel Cough include:

  • A forceful cough, sometimes sounding like a goose honk,
  • Reverse sneezing (discussed below),
  • Normal sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Eye discharge

Also see this article on if dogs get headaches and brain freeze. 

Kennel cough can be avoided with good hygiene practices, such as disinfecting bowls and surfaces and isolating infected dogs. 

Usually, it is not severe, and dogs recover well if they get it. 

The death rate for dog flu is less than 10% and it mostly only affects dogs with compromised immune systems or comorbidities. 

Luckily, a highly recommended vaccine exists for both strains of the virus.

7. Nasal Mites

Nasal mites are relatively uncommon but can be a cause of sneezing. The MSD Veterinary Manual describes the following symptoms of a nasal mite infestation:

  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Collapsing
  • Restlessness
  • High-pitched, noisy breathing
  • Head shaking
  • Difficulty breathing
  • The apparent loss of smell
  • Facial itching
  • Nasal discharge
  • Reverse sneezing

Like dog flu, nasal mites are transmitted directly or indirectly between dogs. If a vet diagnoses nasal mites, they will probably prescribe an anti-parasitic medication that works about 85% of the time. 

However, complications can arise if the mites have caused an infection, which brings us to the next sneezing culprit

8. Respiratory and Nasal infections

Yes, dogs can get nasal infections. Rhinitis and sinusitis are two of the most common upper respiratory tract infections in canines. 

Rhinitis is when the nose’s mucous membranes become inflamed or damaged, whereas sinusitis is the inflammation of the lining in the sinuses. It can have a number of causes, including bacteria and fungal infections.

Symptoms include:

  • Sneezing
  • Struggling to breath
  • Snoring
  • Breathing through the mouth.

Nasal infections can be caused by underlying issues such as mites, viruses, bacteria, or fungi, and your vet will need to do a thorough examination to find the underlying problem. 

Sometimes an infected tooth could be the cause, but sadly, it could sometimes be something even more serious. 

9. Nasal Tumors

The MSD Vet Manual reports that tumors of the nose account for 1 – 2 % of all cancerous masses in dogs. For a change, longer nose breeds are more susceptible than shorter-nosed breeds.

Tumors in the nose are usually severe and need aggressive treatment, including radiation. Unfortunately, they are rarely benign.

The first sign to watch out for is a nasal discharge that contains pus, blood, or mucous when the dog is sneezing. 

It typically starts on one side but often spreads to the second nostril. 

A dog with a tumor will sneeze every so often, have nose bleeds, and might start snoring. If the condition is not caught early, deformities in the mouth and face can occur, and the eyeballs might begin to protrude.

For this reason, runny noses, especially those with suspicious-looking discharge, are best taken to the vet straight away.

10. Dog Allergies

Thankfully not every medical reason for sneezing as serious as a tumor. Allergies do sometimes cause a few achoos. 

But, not always.

We all love spring, but those of us that struggle with hay fever may dread the so-called “pollen apocalypse” or “pollen tsunami” the media loves to warn us of. 

Pollen can cause allergies in dogs, but usually, it is not responsible for sneezing.

Instead, pollen gets stuck on their fur, paw pads, or in the ears and can cause itching, licking, chewing, and scratching. 

But what about other allergies?

A dog might be allergic to many things, ranging from the saliva in flea bites to ingredients in their food. Like pollen, the inhalants that typically cause sneezing and hay fever symptoms in humans also affect dogs. 

An inhalant allergy is called atopy. Common atopies include reactions to dust mites, dead skin cells, tree and grass pollens (ragweed), molds, and mildew. 

However, most atopies result in itchy or inflamed skin. In some cases, though, they may cause rhinitis, which would, in turn, result in sneezing along with the symptoms mentioned above.

11. Reverse sneezing

Other ailments that often afflict short-nosed breeds, in particular, is reverse sneezing.

Reverse sneezing is an upper airway issue that happens when the soft palate at the back of the dog’s throat is irritated. 

This may cause a spasm, and the dog will likely make scary sounds, something like a dying goose.

The dog will expand their chest and extend their neck as they try to inhale. 

Luckily, if reverse sneezing is happening without any other symptoms, it usually does not require treatment. As soon as the spasm is over, the dog should recover quickly.

Owners can help their dogs by massaging the throat or covering their nostrils to force them to swallow. If this doesn’t help, you can try opening the dog’s mouth and pushing the tongue down to open the airways.

Common causes of reverse sneezing are:

  • Eating and drinking too fast
  • Pulling on the leash—why a  no-pull harness is recommended to prevent strain on the neck.
  • Irritating inhalants such as mites, dust, or perfumes
  • Elongated soft palates can cause reverse sneezing. They usually occur in brachycephalic dogs (short-nosed dogs) such as Pugs, Boxers, Rottweilers, Shih Tzus, or Boston Terriers.

Usually, dogs prone to reverse sneezing live relatively normal lives, although the owner may need to take some precautions to avoid the triggers. 

However, if the problem is chronic or presents along with other symptoms, a vet should be consulted.

12. Canine tracheal collapse

Another common breed-related problem which is associated with sneezing is tracheal collapse. 

This happens when the rings in the windpipe collapse in on themselves, usually because of weak cartilage.

It is most common in small breeds such as the Chihuahua or the Teacup Miniature Pinscher, most likely because of their fragile necks. 

The tracheal collapse usually happens when a dog is over-excited or over-exerting itself. Panting makes the issue worse and results in the same honking and neck extension we see in reverse sneezing.

When the dog calms down, the problem should resolve itself. On the other hand, if it happens too much, it can cause complications such as inflammation.

Besides breed, some factors can make the symptoms worse. These are:

  • Anesthesia during the insertion of an endotracheal tube
  • Obesity
  • Kennel cough 
  • Irritating inhalants
  • Enlarged hearts

If your dog’s tracheal collapse episodes seem to be getting worse or is presenting along with other symptoms, consult your vet immediately.

When does a Dog Sneeze Mean Something Serious?

Sneezing bulldog reverse sneezing outside

A sneeze on its own is nothing to worry about, but if your dog begins to sneeze excessively, it may be time to take your dog to the vet, especially if the sneezing is accompanied by tracheal collapse or a lot of reverse sneezing. 

Other signs that it’s time to take your dog to the vet include:

  • A bluish tinge to the gums
  • Any nasal discharge
  • Pawing at the face or rubbing the nose against the ground
  • Runny eyes
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coughing
  • Or any of the other symptoms listed above under various health concerns.

In short, the odd sneeze or two can be a cute way of communicating pleasure or a response to something strong in the air, like a teenager overdoing it with the Axe Body Spray. 

If the sneezing becomes severe, it is usually accompanied by other symptoms. 

Reverse sneezing and tracheal collapse are upsetting for both dog and owner but are generally manageable conditions. Luckily, most of the time, the best thing to do if your dog sneezes is to say, “Bless you!”

Natural Home Remedies For Dog Sneezing

sneezing chihuahua why is this dog sneezing so much

When your dog is sneezing a lot, but the vet has ruled out any serious health concerns, there are a few natural home remedies you can try to alleviate their sneezing:

  1. Fresh Air and Clean Environment – Ensure your home is well-ventilated and free from dust, smoke, and strong odors that can irritate your dog’s nose.
  2. Regular Bathing and Grooming – Bathing your dog with a hypoallergenic shampoo can help wash away allergens that might be caught in their fur.
  3. Air Purifiers and Humidifiers – Use an air purifier to remove potential allergens from the air in your home. A humidifier can also add moisture to the air and reduce nasal dryness.
  4. Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Supplements with omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce inflammation associated with allergies.
  5. Nasal Saline Drops – Saline nose drops can help soothe and clear out your dog’s nasal passages. Make sure to use saline drops specifically designed for dogs.
  6. Herbal Remedies – Some herbal remedies, like nettle or licorice root, can naturally support a dog’s immune system and reduce allergy symptoms. Always consult with your vet before trying herbal remedies.
  7. Proper Hydration – Ensure your dog has access to fresh water or a good low-sodium bone broth at all times to stay hydrated, which can help keep nasal passages moist.
  8. Limit Outdoor Activities – When pollen counts are high, or it’s particularly windy, try to limit your dog’s outdoor activities to reduce exposure to allergens.
  9. DIY Aromatherapy – Some gentle aromatherapy with dog-safe essential oils like lavender can be calming. However, be very cautious with essential oils around pets and only use those known to be safe for dogs in a well-ventilated area. Remember, many essential oils are toxic to pets. 

Remember, while these remedies can be helpful for mild sneezing due to allergies or irritants, they are not substitutes for professional veterinary treatment. If your dog’s sneezing persists or is accompanied by other symptoms, it’s important to seek veterinary care.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

My dog is sneezing a lot, should I be worried? 

Occasional sneezing isn’t usually a cause for concern, but if your dog is sneezing frequently or showing other symptoms like a nasal discharge or lethargy, it’s a good idea to consult your vet.

Can dust mites cause dog sneezing? 

Yes, dust mites can be allergens for dogs just as they are for humans, potentially causing sneezing and other allergic reactions.

Dog sneezing after being outside 

Dogs can sneeze after being outside due to irritants like pollen, dust, or other environmental allergens.

Can dog allergies cause reverse sneezing? 

Allergies can indeed trigger reverse sneezing, which is a spasm caused by irritation of the soft palate and throat.

Natural remedies for dog allergies and sneezing 

Natural remedies might include a clean living environment, regular baths to remove potential allergens from the coat, and supplements like omega-3 fatty acids to help reduce inflammation. Always consult with your vet before starting any natural remedy.

Best dog allergy medication 

The best allergy medication for your dog will depend on the allergy’s cause and severity. Antihistamines or corticosteroids may be prescribed by your vet. Again, consult with your vet for the best treatment.

Is dog kennel cough contagious to humans? 

Kennel cough is typically not contagious to humans, especially if it’s caused by the Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria. However, immunocompromised individuals should always exercise caution and consult a doctor.

Can dog flu cause sneezing? 

Yes, canine influenza can cause sneezing along with coughing, fever, and other respiratory symptoms.

Dog sneezing after boarding 

After boarding, dogs may sneeze due to stress, exposure to new allergens, or contagious illnesses like kennel cough picked up from other dogs.

My dog sneezes white mucus, what does it mean?

White mucus can indicate a simple mild nasal irritation, but if it’s persistent or accompanied by other symptoms, it could suggest an infection or other health issues. It’s best to consult your vet to determine the cause.


As we wrap up our journey through the “atchoo!” adventures of our canine companions, it’s clear that dog sneezing can stem from a myriad of causes, from the benign to the more serious. Whether your dog is playfully snorting in a bout of reverse sneezing or dealing with the discomfort of allergies, understanding the why behind each sneeze is the first step in ensuring their well-being.

We’ve sniffed out the importance of paying close attention to sneezing patterns, the potential triggers lurking both indoors and out, and when it’s time to escalate concerns to your trusted vet. For those everyday sneezes, we’ve explored natural remedies to keep your pooch comfortable and your home allergen-free.

While sneezing can sometimes be a sign of affection or a dog’s way of clearing their nasal passage, we must remain vigilant and responsive to their needs. Always remember that our dogs rely on us to interpret their health cues. So, when in doubt, consulting with a professional is the best way to keep those sneezes in check and tails wagging.

With the right care, awareness, and remedies, your dog can enjoy a happy, healthy life, with only the occasional “bless you!” needed.


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Ostrzeszewicz, M. and Sapierzynski, R., 2015. Fungal rhinitis in dogs. Polish Journal of Veterinary Sciences, 18(4).

Windsor, R.C. and Johnson, L.R., 2006. Canine chronic inflammatory rhinitis. Clinical techniques in small animal practice, 21(2), pp.76-81.

“Cancers and Tumors of the Lung and Airway in Dogs.” Veterinary Manual, Accessed 14 Jan. 2021.

“Canine Influenza.” American Veterinary Medical Association,,mild%20form%20of%20canine%20influenza. Accessed 14 Jan. 2021.

“Canine Nasal Mites.” Veterinary Manual,,high%2Dpitched%2C%20noisy%20breathing. Accessed 14 Jan. 2021.

Jean-Louis, Rosemary. “How To Help Your Pet Cope With Pollen Allergies.” Georgia Public Broadcasting, 14 July 2020,

“Kennel Cough in Dogs.” Fetch by Web MD,

“Reverse Sneezing & Tracheal Collapse | Veterinarian in Harker Heights, Texas | Pet Medical Center.” Pet Medical Center,—tracheal-collapse#:%7E:text=Reverse%20Sneezing%20and%20Tracheal%20Collapse,chihuahuas%2C%20yorkies%2C%20and%20pomeranians. Accessed 14 Jan. 2021.

“These Dogs Vote by Sneezing.” National Geographic News,

Meet Your Experts

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Tamsin De La Harpe


Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.