What causes my dog to sneeze wheeze & cough?

The canine respiratory system is fairly similar to our own and some of the things that cause us to sneeze, wheeze and cough can have the same effect on our dogs. However, dogs are unable to spit, which means that getting rid of bacteria filled mucus from the throat is difficult for them. Respiratory difficulty can be the result of a mild infection or a serious illness, so always contact your vet if symptoms persist.


Most allergic reactions in dogs cause skin irritation and itching, but allergies also can cause sneezing. Reactions to pollen in particular can cause a dog to sneeze. If a dog is sneezing and displaying signs of skin irritation, it is likely due to an allergic reaction.


Airborne pollutants such as air freshener, perfume, deodorant and cigarette smoke can cause a dog to sneeze. Cigarette smoke is a particularly common cause as it lingers in the air for a long time.


An infection of the throat or nose can result in prolonged sneezing. If nasal discharge is present, it is likely that the sneezing is caused by a bacterial infection, in which case consult with your vet about treatment.

Tooth Abscess

The third upper premolar tooth has roots that are close to the nasal cavity. If this tooth becomes infected, it can cause inflammation of the nasal cavity, which results in sneezing.

Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is a highly infectious, non-life-threatening virus comparable to human to human influenza. The symptoms include coughing and hacking. Kennel cough in isolation is typically not a serious condition, but persistent kennel cough can be a sign of an underlying immune system problem. Always consult your vet if in doubt.

Foreign Object

Dust, blades of grass and seeds can become lodged in the throat and respiratory tract. Your dog will cough and possibly sneeze while attempting to expel them. If symptoms persist, consult your vet.


Overweight and obese dogs are prone to wheezing. It is a sign of shortness of breath. Wheezing is particularly prevalent in flat faced breeds such as bulldogs, pugs and mastiffs. Wheezing and rapid shallow breathing can be a sign of heart and lung problems too.

Heat Stroke

Heat stroke can cause wheezing. Dogs are less able to regulate their body temperature than humans are, so always provide dogs with access to shade and fresh, clean water.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Simon Foden has been a freelance writer and editor since 1999. He began his writing career after graduating with a Bachelors of Arts degree in music from Salford University. He has contributed to and written for various magazines including "K9 Magazine" and "Pet Friendly Magazine." He has also written for