Why Do Dogs Sneeze?

ACHOO! A dog’s sneeze can be the result of anything from an especially fun game of fetch to a case of the sniffles. Has your dog been sneezing up a storm? Read on to determine the reason behind the sneezing!



A dog’s nose is up to 100,000 times stronger than a human’s! With as many as 300 million scent receptors, compared to our 5 million, dogs’ noses are extra sensitive when it comes to allergens and irritants. A dog may sneeze because of some common irritants in the air, like dust, dirt, or even your household air freshener. 



Do you find your dog sneezing during playtime, when he sees his leash, or when he’s about to get a treat? Don’t worry, your dog isn’t allergic to fun—he’s expressing excitement! Because dogs can’t talk (unfortunately), they rely on body language to communicate. They sneeze to express excitement the same way they wag their tails when they’re happy! Some dogs will sneeze during a play fight to show that it’s not a real fight, just a game.

You can usually tell the difference between a play sneeze and a sick sneeze by what comes out of your dog’s nose. A play sneeze will usually be “dry,” while a sneeze caused by allergens or sickness will expel some mucus or saliva.



Just like humans, dogs can be sensitive to pollen in the air, especially during spring and summer. Other symptoms of seasonal allergies in dogs include excessive licking and scratching, chewing on their paws, and watery eyes. These symptoms will usually only last about two to four weeks. If you’re worried the symptoms aren’t going away or they seem more intense than typical allergies, consult your veterinarian.



If your dog’s sneeze is accompanied by a loud, strong cough, he may have come down with kennel cough. Kennel cough is a highly contagious respiratory disease in dogs that can be contracted anywhere your dog comes in contact with other dogs: boarding facilities, dog parks, training classes, etc. 

The telltale sign of kennel cough is the loud cough, which sometimes comes with a “honking” noise. Other symptoms include loss of appetite, low fever, and a runny nose. Kennel cough is highly treatable in most dogs, but it’s still important to bring your dog to the veterinarian if you suspect he is sick. 



American Kennel Club