Sneezing is the result of irritation in the nasal cavity of the dog. This irritation can be from an object lodged in the nose, an infection, allergies or even a nervous condition. Your vet can be consulted in an effort to determine the cause and appropriate treatment for your dog. Occasionally, medication will be needed or even a minor procedure to alleviate the sneezing. In other instances, training the dog may be helpful. If the sneezing persists despite treatment, see your vet to reevaluate the dog.
Sneezing can be a symptom of several problems. Before attempting to give a dog anything for the sneezing, the cause of the sneezing should be uncovered. This will allow the sneezing and its underlying problem to be treated accordingly. If sneezing has been noted occasionally or is a constant problem, see your vet as he/she is really the best person to determine the cause and appropriate treatment for you dog.
One of the most common causes of sneezing is a foreign body in the nose. A common culprit is foxtail grass. If you live in an area where foxtails are prevalent and your dog is sneezing, this is probably the cause. In the case of these foreign bodies, your vet will need to sedate or anesthetize your dog so that he/she can get a good look in the nasal cavity. Often he/she can simply remove the object irritating the nose and the problem will resolve with no further treatment. If left untreated, however, these foreign bodies can cause significant damage to this sensitive area.
Another common cause of sneezing is an upper airway infection, or a cold. If this is the cause, antibiotics can be required to get the infection under control and alleviate the sneezing. These infections can be the result of a foreign body that has irritated the area allowing bacteria to take hold. The infection can also be the result of a communicable disease the dog picked up from another dog. Your vet can help you determine which antibiotics will be the most helpful.
Dogs can suffer from allergies just like people do. If your dog is otherwise fine but begins sneezing each time he/she comes into contact with a particular area or substance, he/she may be allergic to it. In this instance the use of antihistamines before the dog is exposed to the sneezing trigger can alleviate the problem. Over-the-counter antihistamines designed for humans, like Benadryl, can be used for dogs as well. Consult your veterinarian for the appropriate dose and use of these antihistamines.
Occasionally, sneezing can be the result of a nervous habit in the dog. In these cases your vet may recommend a sedative to calm the dog and lower his/her nervous threshold. All other causes of sneezing should be evaluated and ruled out before resulting in using this type of medication. When the problem is a nervous behavior, behavior modification training can be used in conjunction with medication to optimize the effect.
- Small Animal Internal Medicine, Richard W. Nelson DVM, Mosby, 2008
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