It’s normal for some of us to start sneezing more in the spring, as seasonal allergies flare up. But what about your dog? If he suddenly begins sneezing more than usual, is this a sign of allergies or illness?
It depends. Some sneezing is normal, but as with humans, excess sneezing can signal some type of medical problem. In order to determine what’s going on, carefully observe your dog’s behaviors and environment.
“Play sneezing”. It sounds funny, but sometimes dogs sneeze to communicate while playing. These sneezes might appear to be fairly dramatic, but if they’re only happening during play and in absence of other concerning symptoms, your dog is just having fun.
Allergies. Like us, dogs can develop allergies to a variety of triggers in the environment. Mold, pollen, certain foods, flea bites, and irritants like cleaners can sometimes cause an allergic reaction in pets. If the sneezing is accompanied by itchiness, coughing, or watery discharge from their nose and eyes, allergies are a likely culprit.
The doggy flu. When sneezing occurs alongside typical signs of illness, like fever, lethargy, lack of appetite, or a cough, we might suspect the canine influenza virus. As with humans, dogs can become very sick with the flu so it’s a good idea to call us if this is the case. Please do call before visiting our office, as the canine flu is highly contagious and we should take steps to minimize the spread of this virus to other patients.
Obstructions. If your dog is sneezing while also pawing frantically at their nose, or rubbing their nose on the ground, it is possible that something has become lodged within a nostril. This often happens with blades of grass or particles of food. Occasionally, foxtail burrs can get stuck up there, too!
It can be difficult to retrieve objects from a dog’s narrow nasal cavities without doing damage, so bring your pet to see us right away if you suspect this situation.
An emergency. When sneezing is accompanied by a honking sound, blue-tinged gums, refusal to exercise, or apparent difficulty breathing, your dog could be experiencing an emergency. Tracheal collapse (common in smaller dogs) and other serious medical conditions must be ruled out immediately. Call us to report symptoms and we will advise you on the next steps to take.