Dog That Sneezes A Lot – Dog Sneezing Meaning Uncovered

A devoted pet parent, pet store manager and animal shelter volunteer. Read more about me here.


It must be the sound you're used to hearing a lot since you clicked on this article.

Whether it's allergy season or not, occasional dog sneezing is inevitable - but there's a line when those sneezes turn into an actual health issue.

Some owners write this off as seasonal allergies - and they're mostly right. But you should know that this is not the only possibility.

dog that sneezes a lot could be dealing with something much more serious.

If you're the least bit concerned about your dog's breathing and frequent sneezing - and you want to create a sneeze-free environment - I've got it covered.

Read on! 🙂

When Is Dog Sneezing Normal?

a dog wearing a scarf that is about to sneeze

As I said a minute ago, there's a fine line between "normal" and constant sneezing.

"Regular" sneezing means that your dog has sneezed several times over a more extended period. And if I had to pinpoint some common triggers, it would be the following situations:

  • Inhaling pollen
  • Spending too much time in a an environment where there's a lot of dust
  • Something tickling its nose
  • Foreign body stuck in the nasal passages
  • A common cold

In these cases, your dog's sneezing is a normal reflex that helps clear the nasal passages - and usually isn't cause for concern.

Dogs Sneezing When Playing: Play Sneezing - Myth Or Fact?

a dog playing catch

Was that a sneeze, or did you hear something else? 

If you thought or, even better, saw your dog sneeze at you during playtime, you might be on to something. 

That's an interesting observation. It makes you wonder, why do dogs sneeze when playing?

If you noticed that your dog sneezed a couple of times while playing fetch, this is considered an indication of friendliness. In short, your dog is sneezing because it's enjoying quality time with you, the owner, a fellow dog friend - or other animals.

But why do dogs sneeze when you play with them? 

Well, although it might not be exactly scientifically supported, many dog experts believe that dogs use sneezing as an invitation to play. The exact sound they make is somewhere between a high-pitch bark and a lowkey sneeze.

Oh, and there's one more thing.

Did you notice how your dog's nose wrinkles during playtime? 

Well, these wrinkles have probably tickled your pup's nose to the point that you can expect some funny sneeze sounds.

Either way, as long as it doesn't happen too often, it shouldn't rattle your boat. It's just one more quirky thing dogs do.

Constant Dog Sneezing - Should You Be Worried?

a close up dog looking confused

Imagine you're sitting on your porch, drinking your morning cup of coffee, and all of a sudden, you hear your dog sneeze ten times in a row. 

That's definitely a cause for concern, right?

Well, it means that it's no longer a question of tickling or an invitation to play. It's more than likely that your dog is bothered by something in the environment.

It's time to put your Sherlock Holmes hat on and find out what is causing these breathing problems. That brings me to my next point - dogs sneezing meaning.

Possible Causes For Dog Sneezing

The key to solving any problem that your dog is having - whether behavioral or health-related - is to be aware of the potential causes. The more you know, the easier it will be for you to pin down the root of the problem.

With that said, let's list down a few common causes and possible reasons behind your dog's constant sneezing.

Dog Allergies

Seasonal allergies take the first place!

It was probably the first thing that came to your mind, primarily because you sneeze as soon as you feel pollen in the air. It could be that it's allergy season - and that your dog is reacting to specific seasonal and environmental allergens, like pollen, grass, weeds, and such.

However, pollen is not the only trigger for dog allergies.

Your dog can also be allergic to dust, cigarette smoke - if you're a smoker or live with a person that smokes - strong perfumes, mold; the list goes on. 

For all you know, your pup can be allergic to dog food.

Watery eyes and itchy skin often accompany allergies, so make sure that you are on the lookout for other symptoms in addition to sneezing excessively.

Nasal Mites

You might not be able to see this with your own eyes, but nasal mites can wreak havoc on your dog's nasal passages.

Nasal mites are microscopic pests that inhabit the nose and sinuses of your dog in huge quantities. Just imagine a vast number of tiny bugs that tickle you all the time. 

Well, that's exactly how your dog feels.

Many owners associate mites with the surface layer of your dog's coat - but these pests go deep into the nasal passage, damaging your dog's respiratory system and causing excess nasal discharge and sneezing in dogs.

Your dog's sneezing will become more and more frequent; at one point, you'll be able to count up to 15 sneezes in an hour.

Don't be too surprised if you notice that your dog is sneezing blood along with nasal discharge. These almost invisible enemies can cause a lot of trouble!

Reverse Sneezing

Now, this is a rather interesting phenomenon.

It's not exactly a disease, as many owners would assume. It's more of a response to:

  • Inflammation
  • Excitement
  • Foreign objects and irritants

Reverse sneezing in dogs occurs when your dog starts inhaling air rapidly and "dramatically," which tends to sound a bit like honking.

A reverse sneeze might not be as concerning as some other causes - but it should not be ignored, either. Complications are rare, but it's still best to help your dog - and address the reverse sneeze episodes in time.

Nasal Infection

Talking about serious health threats is no one's cup of tea, but you have to mention them somewhere. Remember, we're doing this for your pup's own good.

When it comes to nasal infections, you need to know that they can come from bacteria, the environment, or even a bad tooth. Frequent or repeated sneezing can indicate that your dog's nose is bothered by bacteria, fungal infections, or infectious bronchitis, known as Kennel cough.

If it's not treated, it could lead to nasal pain, swelling, and nosebleeds. If that's the case, don't hesitate to call your vet immediately.

Nasal Tumor

Perhaps even more dangerous than infections are nasal tumors. That said,

this condition is characteristic of older dogs - as in, seven years or older

Here are two things to remember about nasal tumors in dogs: 

One, they can be genetic. And two, if your dog has been sneezing for a long time and you haven't paid attention, its nasal cavity could be damaged to such an extent that a tumor has developed.

Common Symptoms - Checking Your Dog's Nose

a vet examining a dog's nose

It's time to check if your dog is displaying any other symptoms consistent with excessive sneezing. Once again, the more symptoms you recognize, the better you will understand the source of the problem.

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Noisy breathing
  • Constant nose bleeds
  • Scratching the nose/facial itching
  • Sneezing blood
  • Holding their chin up while sleeping
  • Fungal infections
  • Compressed nasal passages

Some additional symptoms include reduced appetite, blue or purple skin, and a soft palate. In my opinion, these three symptoms definitely call for professional help.

My advice would be to keep your vet on speed dial.

Creating A Sneeze-Free Environment

a dog and its owner giving a high five

So far, you've managed to get answers to some essential questions, such as:

  • Why dogs sneeze when playing?
  • Why do dogs sneeze when they get excited?
  • Why do dogs sneeze at you?
  • What does dog sneezing mean?

Now that you're aware of the possible causes - and you can spot some common symptoms - it's time to see what you can do about it.

First and foremost, you can call your vet to come by and take a look at your dog.

You might've read your dog's history before you bought - or, preferably, adopted - your pup, so you know that this common occurrence happens for a reason. 

On a related note, if allergies happen to be the case, creating a sneeze-free environment will have to start with allergy testing.

If you fear that this might be something highly contagious - like Kennel cough - you can take your dog to do some laboratory testing, too.

Which Dogs Sneezes A Lot?

a pug looking sad

It's true, certain dog breeds are more prone to constant sneezing. According to the American Kennel Club, breeds that are most likely to sneeze while playing or develop reverse sneezing are:

  • Pug
  • Boston Terrier
  • English Bulldog

The three dogs that I just mentioned belong to brachycephalic breeds. This is a professional term for "breeds with a shortened head," and Pugs are their most famous representatives.

Don't mistake this for red flags. There's nothing wrong with these breeds, they're just more likely to play sneeze, or sneeze at all - that's it.

Summing Up

Today's main focus was your dog's nose - and I've hopefully managed to uncover why your dog is sneezing uncontrollably and how these frequent dog sneezes can affect the health and nasal cavity of your pet.

And as it turns out, yes, excessive and reverse sneezes can cause severe breathing difficulties. Many dogs will end up having trouble breathing for the rest of their life if you don't notice the symptoms in time.

A runny nose and sudden, repeated inhalations are not something you can let slide when you have a dog that sneezes a lot.

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About the Author

A devoted pet parent to two lovely creatures – Charlie the Cat and Jimmy the Dog – a full-time assistant pet store manager, and an animal shelter volunteer. I've gathered knowledge about pets for almost a decade, and it all started in a small store called Jack's Pets.

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