What is Sneezing?
A sneeze in people and animals is the sudden expulsion of air from the nose and mouth caused by an irritation to the lining of the nasal cavity. Dogs do not usually sneeze a lot. If your dog is excessively sneezing it may be from:
- Foreign body
- Inhaled irritant
If your dog is sneezing more than usual it may be a good idea to either crate him or put him in a small room where you can observe him. This way you can see if there are any other symptoms (coughing, nasal discharge, pawing at his face) and how long it takes for the sneezing to subside. If your dog keeps sneezing; he should be seen as soon as possible by a veterinarian. In case that the sneezing is occurring after hours, there are 24 hour emergency hospitals available.
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Why Sneezing Occurs in Dogs
Brachycephalic dog breeds are more susceptible to developing respiratory problems due to their compressed faces and short muzzles. Brachycephalic breeds include the Bulldog, Pekingese, Pug, Boston Terrier and the Shih Tzu.
The reason your dog is sneezing may be:
Dogs can be allergic to antigens such as tree, weed or grass pollen, mold spores, mildew, and dust mites. Allergies to pollen are seasonal but other inhalant allergies are year round. In addition to sneezing other symptoms may include watery eyes, itching and/or chewing at his skin.
Infections can be bacterial, viral and/or chronic. The dog may have a sinus infection or an infected tooth draining into the nasal cavity.
Your pet may have something lodged inside his nasal cavity. Items such as a twigs, dead bugs, tinsel, string, paper clips, rocks and awns have been recovered from the noses of dogs by veterinarians. The foxtail awns are extremely dangerous because they are barbed and razor sharp, and can also work their way deep into tissue.
Dogs have very sensitive noses and a keen sense of smell. Inhalants such as lawn fertilizer, cleaning supplies, tobacco smoke, paint, and pesticides can be irritating and toxic to your pet. Additionally, the smell of newly installed carpet, which contains adhesives and stain protectors can cause sneezing and even death if for example, the adhesive fumes are strong.
Nasal Mite Infection
Nasal mites are parasites which can cause sneezing, nasal discharge, nose bleeds, and facial itchiness. An infected dog can transmit the mites to other animals. Nasal mites are not zoonotic, which means that the dog cannot transmit the mites to people.
A nasal tumor is a tissue mass, which can be benign or malignant. Nasal tumors can cause sneezing with droplets of blood. Long nosed dogs are more commonly affected by nasal tumors.
What to do if your Dog is Sneezing
A dog that is excessively sneezing should be seen by a veterinarian. A veterinarian will be able to determine what is causing the condition. The veterinarian will look inside the dog’s nose and mouth, check the teeth, and palpate for facial swelling. Depending what other symptoms your dog may be experiencing, the doctor may recommend x-rays, and bloodwork. He may also take a skin scrape of the nasal mucosa to be examined under a microscope. If the veterinarian suspects allergies he may also recommend allergy testing.
Allergies may be treated with daily allergy shots. Dogs with infections will be treated with antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications. Foreign bodies in the nasal cavity will need to be removed. The dog will need to be anesthetized, so that veterinarian may retrieve the lodged object. Patients exposed to irritating inhalants may need oxygen therapy, anti-inflammatory medications and rest. If nasal mites were found, a topical parasite medication and an oral anti-parasite drug may be administered. Malignant tumors may need to be surgically removed, followed by radiation treatment and chemotherapy. Sneezing in dogs may be a symptom of an underlying serious condition.
Prevention of Sneezing
Allergy shots will help prevent the effects of the allergens, which the dog is allergic to. Small objects should not be left out where curious noses can inhale them. The dog’s yard should be free of small rocks, awns and twigs. Dogs should not be exposed to irritating inhalants.
There are natural cleaning solutions that are not as strong smelling as bleach or ammonia. Other irritating inhalants should be avoided around your pet such as second hand tobacco smoke, pesticides, fertilizers, etc. These dangerous inhalants can not only cause sneezing they can cause respiratory distress and may lead to cancerous tumors. Some conditions or diseases cannot be prevented but they can be diagnosed in the early stages with yearly wellness check. Early diagnosis of a condition usually has a better recovery prognosis.
Cost of Sneezing
Treatment cost for this symptom will vary depending on the underlying cause of your dog’s sneezing. For example, the treatment of a nasal mite infestation can cost around $500 and the cost of treating malignant nasal tumors can be up to $12,000.
Sneezing Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
My American bulldog sneezes all the time. Can I giver her benadryl to help or is it not safe for dogs? I cant afford to go to a vet if i can just treat her at home.
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My shiba has always been a frequent sneezer, but over the last week or so the sneezing has become more frequent and more intense. Is this something I should be concerned about?
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It isn’t unusual for a three month old puppy to sleep all the time; the problem comes if they have difficulty to wake up or fall asleep whilst in the middle of an activity (narcolepsy for example). As puppy’s age they will require less sleep just like a human baby sleeps more than an adult. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
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