Why Do Dogs Sneeze When We Play With Them?

Why Do Dogs Sneeze When We Play With Them?: How often have you witnessed your dog going all ‘AAAaaaCHOoon’ whenever they are playing with you or other canines? Do you ever wonder what causes that seemingly very adorable sneezing? Do you ever worry that if it is normal or not?

Play sneezing in dogs may come about due to several reasons, which may include, intrusion of dirt and dust particles into their noses, inviting other dogs to play with them, and use of it as a gesture to express happiness, excitement, and sometimes even exhaustion.

People who have dogs as their pets, and who engage in playful activities with them while paying close attention to their behaviors, often ask this question. It is really not necessary that your dog sneezes because of allergies or a common cold.

Sometimes, their cute funny face, with almost closed eyes and scrunched up nose is more than just about such ordinary things as normal illnesses.

This involuntary, cute reflex in dogs is a big treat to the eyes of many dog owners, and to a great extent, moves them to contemplate on what causes it.

Just like humans, sneezing is a completely involuntary reflex in dogs.

Normally, sneezing occurs when foreign particles such as pollen and dust enter the nasal cavity of a dog, causing the insides of their noses to tickle, consequently making them sneeze forcefully to get those materials out.

Foxtail grass has a tendency to cause very severe sneezing in dogs.

When such stimuli are detected, signals are sent to the brain, and the brain in turn signals different muscles, especially those that line air passages, to contract.

The contractions are followed by the forceful expulsion of foreign particles through sneezing.

The basic purpose of sneezing is to clear the air passages off of bacteria, dirt, and foreign particles to protect the dogs.

Why may a dog sneeze while playing?


You must have a gotten a rough idea of what a sneeze is and the basic reasons for why it occurs, now let us see what brings about sneezing in dogs when they are playing.

As you shall discover, there are several very interesting reasons why a dog may sneeze while playing.

However, some of the reasons may not seem logically correct, but that is okay, because humans really cannot correctly interpret all actions of an animal, and that of course is due to communication barriers.

Yet, the assumptions made, if they are the best and most prominent of assumptions, can provide good enough explanations for things.

Also, it is imperative to mention here that the sneezing that takes place when a dog is playing is called ‘play sneezing’.

Medical reasons:

Medical factors come forth as the most obvious reason if your dog is sneezing more than its average amount of sneezing.

The sneezing, in case of a dog having a sickness, may not at all be because of involvement in playful activities.

If you see that your dog is sneezing too much, it is better to immediately take them to a vet, and get them checked for any potential diseases.

Summoning their friends to play:

We all know what lovely creatures dogs are, and how much they like befriend and play with humans and other dogs. Sometimes dogs use sneezing as a gesture to communicate with fellow specie members and humans, and convey their intensions, wants, and needs.

They often make funny faces and sneeze to invite dogs and humans to play with them. Other such gestures include play bows and excessive jumping, to show their enthusiasm in certain situations.

To reassure their playmates:

Many dogs sneeze to let their playmates know that they are not being aggressive, and are only playing for the fun of it.

Sneezing is one of the various behaviors dogs indulge in to communicate with other players. Games that dogs play, such as fetch, may get rough, hence actions such as sneezing help dogs to tell other dogs that they are not being serious and do not intend to inflict any harm.

Dog owners would really know when their dogs are communicating through body language, and in turn realize that they are in a playful mood, ultimately allowing them to have quality time, playing with their pet dogs.

The need to take breaks:

Dogs, no doubt, are very energetic creatures but they also need timeouts if they indulge in too much physical activity while playing their rough, dog-like games.

They can also need refreshment, and for that purpose may start sneezing to let fellow players know that they are tired and require the game to pause. Other gestures such as bowing, are often used to indicate that a dog wants to start or resume a game.

A blow to the nose:

Taking a blow on the nose, or bumping it somewhere, can sometimes damage the inner muscles of the nose. The hit may stimulate the nerves of a dog’s nose pretty much the same way as an intrusive particle would, causing their eyes to water, noses to scrunch up, consequently leading them to sneeze. However, sneezing in the aforementioned case has nothing to do with relieving pain that was brought forth by hit they took on the nose.

The environment:

The setting in which a dog plays is of great importance while you are considering the reasons for their sneezing habits.

If the pup is playing in a place that has a lot of dust and moving air around, it probably would be the main reason for their sneezing, as a lot of dust particles would get the chance to get lifted in and up the nose as your dog breathes in the air in the surroundings.

When pollens grains, dust or debris makes its way into a dog’s nasal cavity, the ‘sneeze’ sites of the brain get alerted and cause heavy bouts of forceful sneezing to get the foreign particles out from the nose of the canine.

The need for attention:

If you feel that your dog is sneezing at unusual times, and are not sick, they may just be faking sneezes, trying to catch your attention, while, for example, hoping that you’d play fetch with them.

If you are a dog owner, you must know that they do just the most right thing to catch attention, as the funny and cute faces dogs have the tendency to make, are heart-melting and irresistible.

Some pet dogs may even move very close to their owners and then fake sneezes, so that the owner doesn’t stand a chance to avoid them.


Generally, if you often see your dog sneezing during playtimes, especially when in company of other dogs, you need not to worry about them, or more specifically, their health. Play-sneezing is mostly, completely normal and harmless.

Usually, the dogs sneeze while playing, just to show their excitement and that they are enjoying themselves.

It is usually more common in small breed dogs, however no bounds are there for the large breed dogs too, literally, it is possible for all types of dogs.

To give the debate a closure, the sneezing in dogs during playtimes is mostly for ridding their air passages of any dirt, and for communication with their owners and playmates.

So, dog owners, don’t worry so much, and enjoy your dog’s outstanding expressions and body language as they prepare to let out a big ‘aaachoo’!