Why is my Dog Sneezing Non-Stop?

If your dog has started to sneeze non-stop all of a sudden then these are the most likely causes!

causes of sudden sneezing on dogs

I am looking after my son’s dog at the moment and this morning he has been sneezing constantly. He is very fit and well otherwise but on the walk he sneezed all the way. Any suggestions?

So my first question today is from Bridgette, and she said that she was looking after her son's dog and this morning he's been sneezing constantly. He's very fit and well otherwise but on the walk he sneezed all the way. Any suggestions?

Why do dogs sneeze?

Well, the first thing to say is that sneezing is due to some irritation in the nasal cavity and that can be due to a number of different things. It can be due to an infection, which can be a viral disease. It can be bacterial or fungal. It can also be masses, so a mass within the nose. It can be allergic disease, although that's not a particularly common cause of sneezing, and we could also have foreign bodies, so something actually stuck up the nose causing the irritation and causing the sneezing.

Causes of Sneezing in Dogs:

  1. Infections

  2. Masses

  3. Allergies

  4. Foreign bodies

Nasal infections

Now if we think of infection, then we don't tend to get constant sneezing with that. You more so get kind of sneezing fits rather than that constant sneezing. So they'll be fine and then they'll have a few sneezes and then be fine and settle down again.

You also tend to get, with infectious causes of sneezing, a really snotty discharge from the nostrils and that can be a thin clear liquid through to very thick, yellow, green snot. Typically as well with infections, we get it from both nostrils.

So it’s pretty uncommon that when it's infection, we get it just from one nostril, although there are a couple of exceptions to this with the first being fungal disease. If we've got a fungal infection then that can be from just one nostril. That's not very common, depending on where you are in the world, and it tends to be longer nosed dog breeds that get that issue, rather than our are shorter nosed dog breeds.

The other is tooth root abscesses. infections of the upper teeth can actually eat away at the bone all the way into the nasal cavity. These infections can then drain through the nose, causing a purulent, snotty discharge from just one nostril. Like I say though, these are not particularly common, and wouldn't be expected to cause this sudden onset of constant sneezing.

Lumps and tumors

So masses are the next potential cause of sneezing and, similarly to infection, they come on more slowly. So you wouldn't have no problem one minute and then the next a dog who’s just sneezing and sneezing and sneezing.

With masses as well, a vet may be able to detect a lack of airflow going through one nostril if it's completely obstructed. And again, generally it tends to be a one sided discharge because more often than not there tends to just be a mass on one side.

Now masses can, as they progress, cause problems where they eat through the bone and cause discharging in both nostrils but again, that's not going to be a sudden onset cause.

Allergies as a cause of sneezing

Allergic diseases are our next cause of sneezing. It is not a common cause of sneezing. It can happen though and we tend to get a clear, runny discharge from the nose and some sneezing.

Very often allergic disease will also cause red and runny eyes, and the most common result of allergic disease is actually itchy skin.

Foreign Bodies

The final cause, and probably by far and away the most likely one here, is a foreign body or a chemical irritation.

A foreign body is when something actually becomes stuck up the nose. This could be a bit of stick, foxtail or blade of grass for example. Sneezing comes on very suddenly because it's not there one minute and then with a sniff and a snort it gets trapped and lodged up in the nose.

A dog or a cat with something up their nose just simply can't stop sneezing.

It's just constantly irritating them. Also, at the very beginning, there's going to be no discharge. That's going to change though if it's there for a longer period of time, if it's not sneezed out. A dog will start to get a pussy discharge, again from one nostril unless there's more than one foreign body. To start with it might be a clear discharge, but then it's going to quickly become bloody and pussy if it stays up in the nose for any length of time.

In my experience, he most common causes here are grass seeds or awns or foxtails, whatever you call them. But you can also get blades of grass, bits of stick, and other types of vegetation.

So those are the most common causes of sneezing if you'd like and in this case, in a dog who is otherwise fit and well, who has no other problems, it's more than likely that he's kind of sniffed something and that's got stuck up the nose.


Now the act of sneezing will actually, in the majority of cases, dislodge that foreign body.

In some cases it won't and you'll need to go to your vet and have it removed. This can be done under sedation sometimes if we can see it right there. But the nose is very sensitive so often we'll need a little anesthetic to remove that foreign body, that bit of foreign material, and sometimes it can be really tricky to find them. It will take a lot of flushing and it can be quite challenging but by and large, these are fairly easy and simple to resolve.

The above is a transcript taken from “The Dr Alex Answers Show”.

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