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Why Do Dogs Sneeze?

There are many reasons why a dog sneezes. While it is often allergies or a medical condition, sometimes your dog sneezes because she's feeling playful.

Why Do Dogs Sneeze When They Play?


Dogs sneeze when they get excitedIf you’ve ever noticed your dog sneezes when he gets excited or while playing, there’s a reason for it. Dogs sneeze to say they want to play. It sounds slightly different from a regular sneeze. Try exhaling sharply through your nose. See how it sounds like a sneeze, but not quite? If you hear that sound from your dog, it means he wants to play or he’s excited. It’s why some dogs sneeze when their owner comes home after work: he’s happy to see you and wants to play.


If you want to test it, try doing that sneeze to your dog and see how he responds. If he gets animated, his tail starts wagging wildly, or he brings you a toy, you know you’ve communicated playtime to your dog in his language.


Read More: How To Play With Your Dog - 5 Creative Ideas


When Does Sneezing Mean Allergies?


Allergies and playtime are the two most common reasons for dog sneezing. Allergy-based sneezing is usually accompanied by other symptoms, such as runny nose, watery eyes, red eyes, scratching ears, lots of discharge in ears (take a peek for dark waxy build-up). Your vet can confirm a diagnosis, determine the cause of allergies, and choose the best course of action.


Dogs whose allergies stem from food allergies often have itchy skin as well. If this sounds like your dog, read about how to choose the best dog food for itchy skin.


What Medical Issues Cause Sneezing?


sneezing dog picBacterial and viral infections can cause sneezing. In a dog's face, their nasal cavities, sinus cavities, and oral cavities are closely connected. This means that dogs can develop sinus infections, and that a dental problem can invade the sinuses. If your dog’s sneezing is accompanied by a cough and/or nasal discharge, it’s likely caused by an infection that needs medical treatment.

Other sources of irritation in the nose may cause sneezing. If your dog spent his entire walk with his nose to the ground and is now sneezing, there’s a chance he may have gotten something stuck in his nose. The sneezing is the body’s way of trying to push out the cause of irritation. On occasion, the body can’t get rid of it on its own or there may be a more serious reason for the sneezing. If you think something is bothering your dog for more than a day or two, the safest approach is to have a vet take a look.

If you’ve asked yourself why do dogs sneeze, it’s usually either from common allergies or wanting to play. Occasionally, it’s a sign of something more serious. Your dog's sneezes may mean something different than you think, so pay attention to the type of sneeze and related issues to know what's going on.

Dogs try and tell us all kinds of things in surprising ways. Learn some other tell tale signals in Dog Body Language Decoded.


If you liked this, also check out:

  Why Does My Dog Eat Grass? - Another common dog behavior with explanations that may surprise you.

  Are Dogs Ticklish? - We've explored the debate.

  Paw Protectors For Dogs - Dogs with allergies often have itchy paws. This wound boot protects paws from excessive chewing.



Photo credit: Mike McCune, Edward Simpson

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