Why Do Dogs Sneeze a Lot?

Photo Courtesy: olgagorovenko/iStock

Dogs sneeze for a number of reasons, including foreign bodies irritating the nose, exposure to allergens like pollen, nasal tumors, problems with their teeth, nasal mites, nasal infection and even excitement. Certain breeds are prone to sneezing as well. In many cases, sneezing isn’t a sign of anything serious, but if a dog sneezes frequently, it’s best to have him or her checked out by a veterinarian for any of these common issues.

Foreign Bodies Irritating the Nose

One of the easiest causes of sneezing to diagnose is when something is simply stuck in your dog’s nose. He or she may paw at their face or rub it on the ground, and some minor bleeding may occur. This is particularly common after a dog has been out playing and sniffing around in the mud. The mud may get caked up in the nostrils. Other items, like twigs, blades of grass and leaves, can get stuck too. Anyone who has foxtails around their yard should be extra careful because the seed heads can get stuck in the nose and cause serious harm.

Exposure to Allergens

Just like humans, dogs have allergies, and they can make them sneeze. It could be a common allergen like dust, pollen or cigarette smoke. It could also be exposure to a product like perfume or household cleaners. In some cases, it may be more dog-specific, such as a flea bite or an ingredient in the pet’s kibble. In addition to sneezing, dogs with allergies may itch and have watery eyes. 

Nasal Tumors

A tumor in the dog’s nasal passages is one of the more serious causes of frequent sneezing. Tumors are most common in dogs with longer snouts.

Problems with the Teeth

When the nasal passages are clear, look to the dog’s mouth for the culprit. An infection or other tooth problem can cause sneezing, especially when it affects the teeth closest to the nasal passageways.

Nasal Mites

While rare, nasal mites can get into a dog’s nose and cause an infestation that leads to sneezing, itching and nasal discharge. A dog may pick up mites from another dog or simply from spending time outdoors.

Nasal Infection

Sneezing may be a sign of a nasal infection or an upper respiratory infection, usually caused by Aspergillus fungus. Most dogs that get this type of infection get it from spending time outdoors. Other symptoms may include swelling and discharge from the nostrils.


When a dog gets excited, it can take over its entire body, but some animals do more than just wag their tails. Sneezing may be a sign the dog is happy or excited. If the only sneezing occurs before fun activities, like eating, playtime or going out for a walk, excitement is the most likely culprit. This is particularly common in small dogs. 


Finally, some breeds are just prone to sneezing, especially breeds that have short snouts or flatter faces. They’re also more likely to develop respiratory issues in general. These breeds fall under the category of brachycephalic dogs, which includes English bulldogs, mastiffs, Boston terriers, pugs, Shih Tzus and French bulldogs.