Why Do Dogs Sneeze When They Play?

english bulldog puppies playing in the grass

Our dogs do weird things sometimes that make us laugh, confuse us, and more. Sometimes, they’re just being goofballs. But, sometimes, there is a rational reason for it at least from your dog’s perspective. One of these behaviors is sneezing when playing. But, why do dogs sneeze when they play? Here are a few potential reasons:

1. They’re Showing That They Are Playing

When dogs play together, it can sometimes look like they are fighting. One of the reasons many dogs sneeze when they play with you or with another dog is to communicate that they are playing.

In dog body language, a sneeze during the rowdy wrestling, dancing, chasing, etc.can be communication that it is strictly play, not aggressive, and all in good fun. When it comes to determining whether dogs are playing or fighting, a sneeze can sometimes help you tell the difference.

2. Your Dog is Having a lot of Fun

At the same time as communicating that play is all in good fun, your dog may also sneeze simply because they are having a lot of fun. A sneeze during play can be your dog’s way of letting you know they are having a great time.

3. They May Have Seasonal Allergies

If your dog is sneezing a lot during play, they could have seasonal allergies. In this case, your dog will likely be sneezing more often when they are not playing as well. But, if they do have seasonal allergies, the extra activity from playing can irritate their noses more, which will also cause them to sneeze more to try and clear it.

Usually, playful sneezes are lighter and come from the nose while sneezes caused by a cold or allergy tend to be deeper and come from the lungs. If it seems like your dog’s sneezes are coming from allergies, there are a lot of things you can do to help your dog survive seasonal allergies. If you suspect your dog may have them, it’s a good idea to start with the vet to make sure that’s what is happening and also get some great personalized advice for your pup.

4. Your Dog’s Nose is Sensitive

Dogs have a strong sense of smell and a highly sensitive nose. During playtime, they could catch a whiff of an irritant and try to clear it out by sneezing. Dogs often also curl their lips when they are playing and having fun, which can scrunch their noses up. Because this is similar to what happens when their body works up to a sneeze, it can sometimes trigger one through muscle memory or because it tickles their nasal cavity.

5. They Might Need a Breather

A sneeze during play can also communicate that your dog needs a breather. A sneeze is sometimes a calming signal to other dogs. Not only does it indicate play and not aggression, but it can also be a communication to slow things down for a break. Because sneezing is a calming signal, your dog may also use it to calm themselves down a little when they get excited.

6. Your Dog Could Have Something in Their Nose

A sneeze is a method of communication and is your dog’s way of clearing their nose. If they go into a sneezing fit during play or outside of play, they may have something in their nose that they are trying to clear.

This could be excess mucus or irritation due to a cold or allergies. It could also be a blade of grass that tickled their nose or got stuck temporarily. Nasal mites, infections, and other things can also cause sneezing fits.

But, these will happen outside of play as well, they’ll be deeper and more intense, and will also often be accompanied by other symptoms like nasal discharge, cough, and more.

These are just a few reasons why dogs sneeze when they play. Some are normal and some can be a sign that something else is going on. If your dog is sneezing a lot when they’re not playing, it’s time to go to the vet to find out why.

Keeping an eye on your dog’s overall behavior and noting anything that is abnormal for them can help you determine when something isn’t a concern and when it’s time to set up an appointment with your vet.