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:

  • Allergies
  • Infections
  • Foreign body
  • Inhaled irritant
  • Mites
  • Tumor

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.

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:

Allergies

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

Infections can be bacterial, viral and/or chronic.  The dog may have a sinus infection or an infected tooth draining into the nasal cavity.

Foreign Bodies

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.

Inhaled Irritants

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.

Nasal Tumors

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Sneezing Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Labrador Retriever

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One Year

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Sneezing

We just got a new puppy, but she does not have any symptoms that my one year old does. My lab wakes up and has a fit of sneezing. She sneezes roughly 10 times when she has a sneezing fit. She does not sneeze often, mainly just when she wakes up. I have also noticed that she has a yellowish eye discharge. I’m hoping it’s just allergies, but the eye discharge worries me. But her nasal discharge is clear.

Sept. 26, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. If your dog is still having problems, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get treatment for them.

Oct. 18, 2020

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dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Labrador Retriever

dog-age-icon

One Year

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Sneezing And Yellowish Eye Discharge

We just got a new puppy, but she does not have any symptoms that my one year old does. My lab wakes up and has a fit of sneezing. She sneezes roughly 10 times when she has a sneezing fit. She does not sneeze often, mainly just when she wakes up. I have also noticed that she has a yellowish eye discharge. I’m hoping it’s just allergies, but the eye discharge worries me.

Sept. 26, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. If your dog is still having problems, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get treatment for them.

Oct. 18, 2020

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