Eddie the dog sneezing Eddie the dog sneezing

Why Do Dogs Sneeze?

Read time: 4 mins

29 Sep 2023

If you've ever been greeted by your furry friend with a series of adorable sneezes, you might have wondered, "why does my dog keep sneezing?" Well, rest assured, sneezing in dogs is not uncommon, and it can occur for various reasons.

Should I Be Concerned About My Dog Sneezing?

Before we dive into the specifics of why dogs sneeze, let's address the pressing question of concern. In most cases, occasional sneezing in dogs is completely normal. Just like humans, dogs sneeze to clear irritants from their nasal passages. These irritants could be dust, pollen, or even a playful snort during playtime.

However, if your dog's sneezing becomes persistent, is accompanied by other concerning symptoms such as nasal discharge, coughing, or lethargy, it's advisable to consult your veterinarian. Persistent sneezing could be a sign of an underlying issue that requires attention.

Why Do Dogs Sneeze When Playing?

Have you noticed that your dog tends to sneeze more often during playtime? This phenomenon is relatively common and can be attributed to the sheer enthusiasm and excitement that dogs exhibit when engaging in their favourite activities.

When dogs play vigorously, they often take in a lot of air through their noses. This increased airflow can stir up dust and particles in the environment, leading to sneezing as a natural response. It's akin to a human athlete panting during exercise to take in more oxygen – dogs sneeze to regulate airflow and ensure they're getting enough oxygen while having a blast.

What is Reverse Sneezing in Dogs?

Reverse sneezing is a peculiar and somewhat unsettling occurrence that some dog owners may witness. It's a sharp, sudden, and repeated inhalation through the nose, often accompanied by a distinctive snorting sound. Unlike regular sneezing, which expels irritants, reverse sneezing seems to be an attempt to draw something in.

What Causes a Dog to Reverse Sneeze?

While reverse sneezing can be disconcerting to witness, it's usually a harmless reflex. It can be triggered by various factors, including:


Just like regular sneezing, irritants like dust, pollen, or strong odours can provoke reverse sneezing in dogs.

Excitement or anxiety

Some dogs may reverse sneeze when they're overly excited or anxious. It's their way of calming down and regulating their breathing.


Allergic reactions to certain foods, plants, or environmental factors can also lead to reverse sneezing episodes.

Foreign objects

In rare cases, a foreign object lodged in the nasal passage can cause a dog to reverse sneeze. If you suspect this, consult your vet immediately.

Brachycephalic breeds

Breeds with flat faces, such as Bulldogs and Pugs, are more prone to reverse sneezing due to their unique anatomy.

How to Stop Reverse Sneezing in Dogs

If your dog experiences a reverse sneezing episode, there are a few things you can do to help:

Stay calm

It's essential to stay calm and not panic. Remember that reverse sneezing is usually harmless.

Gently massage the throat

You can try massaging your dog's throat to help relax the muscles and alleviate the episode.

Offer water

Providing a small amount of water may help your dog swallow and clear any irritants from the throat.

Create a calm environment

If the episode is linked to excitement or anxiety, removing triggers and creating a calm environment can prevent future episodes.

Consult your vet

If reverse sneezing becomes frequent or severe, consult your vet to rule out any underlying issues.

Should You Take Your Dog to the Vet for Sneezing?

While the occasional sneeze is generally nothing to worry about, persistent or severe sneezing, especially when accompanied by other concerning symptoms like nasal discharge, coughing, or changes in behaviour, should prompt a visit to your veterinarian.

Your vet can perform a thorough examination and diagnostic tests if necessary to determine the underlying cause of the sneezing. Common causes of chronic sneezing in dogs can include allergies, infections, foreign bodies in the nasal passages, dental issues, or even nasal tumours.