A picture of a dog mid-sneeze is delightful. Twenty-seven dogs caught mid-sneeze is icing on the cake. It is impossible not to smile as you scroll through these dogs, squinting and contorting just like we do.

But what’s with all the weird faces? I took to the literature to find out what makes dogs sneeze. A 1973 report explains how even fireflies can get a dog going. Fireflies come equipped with chemical defenses to avoid being parasitized, and a dog getting a whiff has been observed to sneeze. Dogs also sneeze when they are not feeling so hot. One study reported that four dogs with canine influenza in Southern China experienced coughing, nasal discharge, a low fever, and yes, sneezing. A 1992 report found that nasal mites were behind a 5-year-old Golden Retriever’s chronic sneezing. How did they find this out? After corticosteroid treatment, “mites crawled out of the nares” because apparently sometimes they do that. Great. Wouldn’t you know, this was “thought to be the first report of this nasal mite in dogs in Finland.” Dogs are also said to sneeze when excited, and dogs can even learn to sneeze on cue.

“Sneezing is actually quite excellent,” I imagine Bill saying to Ted if they were ever to reunite. Sneezing is a protective reflex that expels air, typically when something is irritating the nasal passage. A sneeze here or there is fine (and as we’ve seen, highly entertaining), but the prevalence of nasal disorders in dogs and cats is a reminder that sneezing is not always benign. If a dog is sneezing up a storm there could be a problem. On the other hand, this dog and this baby sneezing is a laughing matter:

But this is what I really want to know:

a) When does your dog sneeze? and

b) Do you say anything? “Gesundheit!”? “God bless you!”? Hopefully not, “Get out of those nostrils, you mites!”


Images: Dog sneezing via Life With Dogs; Bill and Ted via Mental Floss 1989 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.


Li S., Peirong Jiao, Guihong Zhang, Zhiwen Zhong, Wenru Tian, Li-Ping Long, Zhipeng Cai, Xingquan Zhu, Ming Liao & Xiu-Feng Wan (2010). Avian-origin H3N2 canine influenza A viruses in Southern China, Infection, Genetics and Evolution, 10 (8) 1286-1288. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.meegid.2010.08.010

Perkins, J. R. Teaching Dogs to Yawn, Sneeze, and Implications for Preparedness Theory and Observational Learning

Songu M. (2009). Sneeze reflex: facts and fiction, Therapeutic Advances in Respiratory Disease, 3 (3) 131-141. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1753465809340571

Saari, S., Nikander, S., Oksanen, A., Väyrynen, R. (1992). The nasal mites (Pneumonyssus caninum) in dogs. The first report from Finland. Suomen Eläinlääkärilehti 98, 647-652.

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