Have you ever watched your puppy sneeze and found yourself wondering what he’s reacting to? Surprised to see your new puppy sneezing and sniffling while jumping around at their favorite toy? Wondering if you should take him in to see the vet? These are all common questions and unlike people, there are numerous reasons for your dog to sneeze. While obviously a cold or allergies can play a part in your dog’s nasal reactions, the underlying cause could also be behavioral in nature. Let’s check out what the nose knows.
Sneezing in Play
When discussing the behavioral side of your dog, a basic understanding of dog hierarchy is important. To a dog, being able to show that their intentions are not to challenge dominance is of supreme importance to a young pup or dog in a new environment. They must show that their actions are not a true threat to the local alpha.
To do that, there are many signals a dog will give another dog to show that they want to play and that they are submissive. Bowing with their hindquarters in the air and front end down is the most obvious but that is not the only display dogs can give.
When dogs are engaged in running and play, they may not have time to stop; therefore, to give a signal to their playmate, they may give their head a shake and a loud sneeze to indicate their playful nature. They may also sneeze when they want to indicate that they are excited.
If you have noticed your sneezes every time you bring out a favorite bag of treats, it may not be an allergy, they may just be excited. Other triggers, such as the word ‘walk’ or the act of bringing out the leash, a sneeze will most likely be to tell you that your dog is ready for whatever adventure may be coming their way and that they are looking forward to it.
Health Related Sneezing
Most owners come to recognize the difference between a “play” sneeze and a true sneeze with time. When your dog really sneezes, there can be a couple different causes. Most of the time it will be as simple as something tickled their nose. Concern comes when your dog continues sneezing or when other symptoms become involved. If you have noticed that both you and your dog develop the same sneeze in the Spring and Summer, do not be too surprised as, just like people, your pets can have allergies.
Your dog will often have a watery runny nose, runny eyes, and/or wheezing and continuous sneezing. Skin chewing and itching can also be a symptom, especially if the allergy is dermatological in nature. As an example, “Canine Atopy” or “Canine Atopic Dermatitis” is a hereditary and chronic allergic skin disease.
In general if the skin allergy is severe and remains untreated, the condition coupled with the chewing and biting that the dog is sure to employ in an attempt to alleviate the discomfort, may lead to hair loss, skin lesions, scabs, rashes and ear infections.
If your dog’s sneezing starts affecting its behavior, you may find that something has obstructed your dog’s nose. A partial or complete obstruction can lead to serious complications, so looking into it right away is very important. Often you will find that an obstruction will cause a discharge from one or both nostrils to attempt to clear the blockage. If the obstruction works its way into your dog’s nose you may find the discharge becoming bloody and more frequent. The most common obstructions tend to be found around the house and yard and substances such as grass seed, wood chips, and children’s toys are often the most likely culprits of nasal obstruction.
If you can easily see the object obstructing your dog’s nose you can attempt to remove it with your fingers or tweezers; however, the nose is the most sensitive part of your dog’s body therefore you should take your dog to the vet to have the offending object removed so they do not suffer any undue pain.
Sneezing accompanied by a lack of energy may indicate that your dog is sick. Lethargy is often the first sign of a dog’s illness and when it’s accompanied by sneezing and/or a fever, your dog may be fighting a virus or bacterial infection. As with children, if your dog doesn’t improve after a day or two, something more serious may be at work and it is important to seek medical attention promptly.
When to Take Your Dog to The Vet…
Questioning whether or not to go to the Vet? Here’s a simple list to help you make that determination.
Your dog probably does not need to see a vet if you can answer “yes” to the following:
- Has your dog been playing with a new friend or toy and sneezing?
- Is he showing signs that he wants to play?
Your dog should see a vet immediately if you can answer “yes” to these questions:
- Has your dog been outside exploring and is now struggling to breathe?
- Is he panting when the air temperature is still moderate without having had a lot of exercise?
If you can answer “yes” to any of the below, your dog may need to see the vet; yet as these are also signs of a cold unless you see further warning signs, keep an eye on them and see a vet if they persist for more than 3 days.
- Is your dog sneezing while lying down?
- Is he more lethargic than normal?
- Does he feel warmer than normal?
- Is he panting while laying down or wheezing with his mouth closed?
Sneezing can be a totally normal occurrence, it happens for both people and their pets. Combining additional symptoms with sneezing, may help you to evaluate your dog’s situation and determine if your pet requires the kind and loving care of a veterinarian. If you’re in doubt, it is always worthwhile to get advice from a professional.
*This article is for educational purposes only. It is not meant to replace the knowledge and experience of a trained veterinarian. We do not support the self-diagnosis and treatment of your pets without first seeking advice from a professional.