Summer 2013

Anatomy of a Sneeze

If my dog sneezes, does it mean she has allergies?

Illustration: Ward Schumaker

Illustration: Ward Schumaker

Andrea Lam, a board-certified veterinary dermatologist and assistant clinical professor at the Cummings School, responds to a reader’s question about her sneezing dog.

Q: If my dog sneezes, does it mean she has allergies?

A: That certainly might be the case. Veterinarians are starting to recognize that both sneezing and asthma in dogs can be caused by allergic reactions to pollen, weeds, dust, mold and cigarette smoke. Often, we can successfully treat these dogs with allergy injections. (For more about how veterinarians diagnose, treat and manage allergies, see “Itching to Know.”)

However, sneezing in dogs has many different causes. A fungus, virus or bacterial infection, such as a sinus infection, can be at the root of sneezing. A foreign object as small as a blade of grass stuck in a puppy’s nose can cause it to sneeze. In older dogs, nasal discharge or a bloody nose, in addition to sneezing, may be a sign of a nasal tumor.

So when your dog is sneezing, it’s best not to assume it’s simply seasonal allergies. Always start with a visit to your family vet for a thorough exam to rule out other things first.

Please email your questions for “Ask the Vet” to Genevieve Rajewski, Editor, Tufts Veterinary Medicine, at

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