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If your dog sneezes a lot, you might find yourself asking yourself why. While it's normal for dogs to sneeze occasionally, excessive sneezing could be a symptom of a possible health condition. Keep reading to learn the answer to why dogs sneeze and discover when your pooch's sneezes could signal a deeper issue.
Anatomy of a Dog Sneeze
While dog noses look very different from ours, the makeup of a dog nose is actually very similar to that of a human's.
The pharynx, located at the back of the throat, serves as the intersection between the nasal passages and digestive passages, says PetCoach. When an irritant enters the nose or pharynx, the body tries to get rid of it by expelling air through the nose and mouth. This is what's known as a sneeze.
My Dog Keeps Sneezing — Why?
Why do dogs sneeze? The cause of a dog sneeze can range from a piece of dust getting lodged in your pooch's nose to a viral infection. While dog sneezes are usually harmless, they can sometimes indicate deeper issues. Here are the most common reasons for your dog's sneeze attack:
Irritants and foreign objects: Dust, pollen and other small particles can become trapped in a dog's nose or pharynx and cause irritation. A dog's nose can also be irritated by perfumes, cigarette smoke and cleaning chemicals.
Allergies: Dogs can often suffer from seasonal allergies to various types of pollen. Dogs can suffer from seasonal allergies, which often is accompanied by itching, scratching, sometimes watery eyes or nasal discharge and occasionally intermittent sneezing.
Colds and viruses: Dogs, like people, are susceptible to the common cold and to viral infections that can cause sneezing. A dog suffering from a cold or virus will typically display other signs of illness such as nasal discharge, coughing, watery eyes, lethargy, fever or diminished appetite.
Infections: Bacterial and fungal infections in your dog's sinuses or nasal cavity could make them sneeze. Tooth infections can also work their way up into the nasal cavity. If your dog is sneezing due to an infection, you'll most likely see additional signs such as thick or bloody discharge, swelling around the nose and possibly appetite loss.
Tumors: In rare situations, dog sneezes can signal the presence of a nasal tumor. This is most common in senior dogs older than 8 years of age, says PetCoach. In the case of a tumor, sneezing may be sporadic at first, but grow more frequent as cancer progresses, and will eventually be accompanied by bloody discharge from one side of the nose.
Excitement: Some dogs sneeze because they're excited or happy to see you. One theory is that they wrinkle their noses when they're excited, which triggers a sneeze response. So, if your dog lets out a series of sneezes every time they greet you at the door, it likely just means they're happy you're home.
When to Take Your Sneezing Dog to the Vet
Generally, occasional sneezing that isn't accompanied by other signs of illness shouldn't cause concern. Frequent sneezing, on the other hand, especially without a clear cause, might require intervention.
While allergies aren't usually a serious threat to your dog's health, you should consult your veterinarian if, in addition to sneezing, they cause your pooch itching or skin irritation. If sneezing is accompanied by thick discharge or blood, or swelling, fever, appetite loss or lethargy, you should bring your dog to the vet right away.
If you notice your dog sneezing on a regular basis, be sure to watch closely for other signs. While your pup's sneezing could be no big deal, what's causing it may require some investigation.
Jean Marie Bauhaus