Have you ever been greeted with a whole lot of jumping and sneezing from your dog when you come home from work? Does your dog start sneezing every time they meet another friendly dog ready to play? Does your dog get a sneezing fit every time you bring out its favorite treats or toys? If yes, you have nothing to worry about! Your dog isn’t sick or upset. All those sneezes mean your pooch is a happy and well-adjusted dog. But, why does your dog sneeze when excited? We have some answers for you.
Dog psychology 101
Since dogs can’t use language to express their emotions, they use subtle body language and different behaviors to “say” how they feel. For instance, when two dogs approach each other sniffing the ground, it means they are interested in afriendly meeting. It might seem like nothing to you, but to dogs, it’s like saying “Hi, wanna meet? I’m very friendly!” Actually, there are many different actions and vocal signals that dogs use to communicate, and sneezing is one of them. Sneezing, like some other signals, means that your dog is happy and/or wants to play.
Sneezing as a calming signal
Just like other calming signals dogs use to communicate such as yawning and lip licking, experts noticed that they also use sneezes to tell other dogs and even people to calm down. So, if you notice your dog repeatedly sneezing when you go for a walk or when you have obedience training sessions, you might want to become more patient and calm. Also, when the play between two dogs gets a bit heated, dogs might start to sneeze in order to cool off the situation, states Gill Garratt, a psychologist and specialist in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
But why the sneezing?
Experts in doggy behavior noticed that dogs like to wrinkle their nose and curl their lips when playing and having fun. However, according to Dr Bruce Fogle, this move might be the culprit for their sneezing, since this seems to tickle their nose and trigger the sneeze. If you find this canine behavior interesting, Dr Fogle has a whole bunch of other interesting and useful facts every dog owner should know in his book “If Your Dog Could Talk”.
When is sneezing normal?
Dogs take their play time very seriously, and they have no time to stop and relax. However, they can use these vocal and body language signals like sneezes to remind their playmate they are still only playing. Sneezing is also a response to excitement, like when you bring out its favorite treats or toys. Some words that have positive connotations to your dog, such as ‘walk’ or ‘good boy/girl’, might also trigger sneezing of happiness and excitement.
Playful sneeze or allergies?
However, don’t think your dog is happy and healthy every time it sneezes. There are other reasons your dog might be sneezing, and the reason isn’t so playful. There is a difference between a playful sneeze and a real one. The real one is deeper and comes from the chest, while a playful sneeze is more of a snort or a fast expelling of air from the nose, nut the lungs. Most real sneezes happen because something tickled your pups nose, but it can also mean allergies (especially in the spring and summer). However, if your dog has allergies, other symptoms like red, itchy eyes, runny nose, nasal discharge, cough, skin itching and skin chewing. Some dogs are also allergic to artificial additives from the food and dietary supplements. That’s why many owners avoid products with these additives and turn to chemical-free products such as Vets All Natural food and supplements to provide their pups with more natural care and diet.
If you start noticing that your dog is sneezing more, that sneezing affects its behavior and that your dog is in pain, there might be something stuck in their nose. A dog’s nose is super sensitive and dogs love to stick it everywhere, and sometimes they can sniff something in. Nasal obstructions are not dangerous if you notice them early on, but if left untreated, they can cause infections. So, pay a visit to your vet as soon as you start suspecting there’s something stuck in your pup’s snout.
As you can see, sneezing is a totally normal thing for dogs. What’s more, most of the time it actually means your dog is happy, well-adjusted and excited. However, as soon as you start suspecting something health-related, make sure to ask for a professional opinion.