What Causes My Dog or Cat to Sneeze?

It’s the time of the year for sniffles and sneezing for humans. The cold weather has your nose dripping and that’s normal. But what about your dog or cat? If your pet is sneezing, it’s rarely because they’re sick. Acoma Animal Clinic in Tucson broke down what causes your dog or cat to sneeze.

My Dog Is Sneezing

All dogs use their entire body to convey what they’re feeling and a sneeze is just another tool for them to communicate with you and other animals.This is common and completely normal. 

A sneeze occurs most often during playtime. When your dog’s rough-housing and sneezes, it is just them horsing around; they’re having fun and showing it to you or the other dog they’re playing with. They can also sneeze to diffuse a stressful situation with another dog if they misinterpret the playfulness. 

If your dog is only sneezing during playtime, there is no need for concern. However, if the sneezing persists or if blood comes out of their nose, you should check with your vet to make sure nothing else is going on. 

If a dog is playing outside, it is possible that pollen, dust, hair or plant particles got in their nose and they’re trying to expel it.

 If your pooch begins to paw at its nose or rub it vigorously against something while sneezing, it is likely that something is stuck in there. The likely culprit is grass, hair, food particles, or a burr. 

Burrs are particularly dangerous for dogs and can get lodged in their nasal cavities. It can lead to permanent damage or death if the burr is left in your dog’s nostril.  These often cause bleeding, so you should be able to tell if your dog needs medical attention. 

You should contact your vet immediately if you suspect your dog has something stuck in its nose. 

Dog Allergies

Allergies can cause excessive sneezing and coughing in dogs, just like they do in humans. Dust, pollen, mold, a flea bite, food or an irritant in the air can all be the cause of an overactive nose. Allergies can also cause runny noses and eyes, itching and wheezing. 

This is typically harmless and can be treated by switching out your pets food, getting them treated for fleas, or otherwise dispelling of what they’re allergic to. Your vet can help you find the root of the allergy and treat it. 

The Reverse Sneeze

The reverse sneeze is an odd thing to hear; your dog will inhale suddenly and sound like it is gasping, choking or even laughing. Don’t worry, though. A reverse sneeze is a harmless reflex to remove foreign objects, allergens or irritants from their airway. 

Tracheal Collapse

If your dog is making a honking sound or sneezing and gasping violently, or if their gums are blue, it could be a sign of tracheal collapse. This is when your dog’s windpipe, also known as the tracheal ring, collapses. The condition cuts off your dog’s air supply and is often fatal if left untreated. 

Tracheal collapses are common in toy breeds, such as Yorkies. 

My Cat Is Sneezing

A cat sneeze isn’t often a sign of playfulness, like with a dog. Cats use their entire body to communicate, but prefer to keep mucus out of the equation. If your cat is sneezing, it is most likely due to an irritated nose, allergies or infection. 

The most common cause is a tickle in their nose. Just like humans, cats can feel a tickle in their nasal cavity and sneeze to expel whatever is causing it. It could be dust, hair, a chemical irritate, or a reflex to a certain smell. 

Chemical irritants can cause your cat to sneeze too. Noxious smells and various solvents can inflame their nostrils. Your cat will sneeze to get the irritant out of their system. 

Like dogs, sneezing can also be caused by allergies. Pollen allergies are rare in cats, though not unheard of. Dust, a flea bite, mites or food are the most likely causes. Talk with your vet to get your pet on the right food plan and to make sure they are pest free. 

Upper Respiratory Infection

Like humans, cats sneeze when they get a cold. They likely have feline herpes, calicivirus, chlamydia infection or bacterial infection. Don’t worry! Though these infections share names with common human sexually transmitted diseases, they affect you cat in a different way and are highly treatable. 

Herpesvirus infection, also known as feline viral rhinotracheitis, is just a cold. It inflames the tissue around your cat’s eyes and usually lasts 2-5 days. It can cause runny eyes, and sneezing. Vets will typically treat the symptoms, as the disease itself is not fatal for middle aged cats. 

Chlamydiosis refers to a bacterial infection in your cat’s respiratory system. It causes sneezing, watery eyes, coughing and wheezing, lack of appetite and fever. It can develop into pneumonia if left untreated. 

Vaccines used to fight upper respiratory diseases can also cause sneezing. This is normal and should clear up within a few days. 

Sneezing and Brachycephalic Breeds

While all pets sneeze, some breezes do it more often than others. Breeds with shortened heads, known as brachycephalic breeds, sneeze due respiratory distress. For dogs, this includes Pugs, Bulldogs, Boxers, Boston Terriers, Shih Tzus, Chow Chows, and more.

Brachycephalic cat breeds are Persions, Exotic Shorthairs, Himalayan, and Burmese. 

If you have any questions about your pet’s health, contact Acoma Animal Clinic today. 

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