Skip to Content

Why Do Dogs Sneeze When Playing? Is It Normal? [ANSWERED]

Why Do Dogs Sneeze When Playing? Is It Normal? [ANSWERED]

Dogs are very energetic and often get excited whenever it is time to play. However, sometimes while playing, you could notice your dog always sneezing and could be worried if the dog is fine or not. Sneezing while playing is completely normal in dogs; it is a way of communication.

There are various reasons why a dog will sneeze when playing, including attention, health issues, allergies, strong smells, fatigue, happiness, dog breed, tumors, infected tooth, environmental sensitivities, irritants, mites, and playful sneezing. It is normal for dogs to sneeze when playing.

Dogs sneeze, and there is nothing wrong with a dog sneezing; they sneeze for the same reasons humans sneeze. However, seeing a dog sneezing when playing can be strange if you are a new dog owner.

allergic dog flowersWhy Do Dogs Sneeze When Playing?

Dogs sneezing while playing is a normal behavior called “play sneezing.” It is usually a way of communicating with their owner or a fellow dog they are playing with. Since dogs cannot speak as we humans do, they often rely on specific body language and behaviors.

However, when your dog frequently sneezes when playing, you know something is wrong. Excessive sneezing when playing might be due to other things like foreign objects stuck in the dog’s nose or even some other health problems. We will explain better some reasons why dogs sneeze when playing below.

Playful Sneezing

Dogs often tend to sneeze whenever they play with each other or their owners. The meaning of the “playful sneeze” is that the dog is not aggressive and is currently having fun. This behavior communicates a playful act. This is more likely if you notice the dog curling its lips during the play.

The curled lips usually create a wrinkled nose which then leads to sneezing. This type of sneeze is usually very short and comes from the dog’s nasal cavity instead of its lungs. So, if you ever notice this when your dog is playing, you need to understand it is just having fun, and there is nothing to worry about.


Dogs are prone to allergies from food, the environment, or certain seasons. If your dog often sneezes more when playing during a particular season, it could be suffering from seasonal allergies. Food allergies could be gotten from a specific food ingredient.

A dog suffering from environmental allergies could begin to sneeze when playing outside once it comes in contact with dust mites, modes, pollens, and grasses. So, if you ever suspect your dog often sneezes more whenever exposed to certain things, ensure you reduce its contact with the allergen.


Dogs are very good at getting their owner’s attention. A dog could begin to fake sneeze around you because it wants to get your attention. The dog would tend to observe you and see if you react to its sneeze when doing this. If you respond and give it attention, perhaps, you play with it; it would repeat the behavior.

Dogs love their playtime as much as they love mealtime. Moreover, they will do anything to ensure they get enough playtime, to the extent of faking some things. As long as you respond positively to the dog, it will continue to exhibit the behavior every time it wants to get something from you. So, you need to know when your dog is fake sneezing.

Sensitive Smells

Just like allergies, dogs are also sensitive to certain smells. Dogs have very sensitive noses, making them capable of smelling things far better than we humans. So, when a dog perceives certain sensitive or strong smells, its nose becomes irritated, which could then cause it to sneeze.

Just as we humans, when we exhaust energy during playtime, we tend to gasp for breath and breathe more. The same thing happens with dogs when playing. So, if the dog perceives any form of sensitive smell like dust, perfumes, cologne, candles, or certain household products, its nose could become irritated, causing it to sneeze.

Specific Dog Breeds

Some dog breeds are naturally more prone to sneezing than others. This is because of the anatomy of their throat and muzzle. If you own any Brachycephalic or flat-faced dog breeds like Bulldogs, Pugs, Shih Tzu, and Terriers, you would agree they sneeze often.

They have a very compressed nasal passage with a very short snout, making them experience breathing issues. So, it is not unusual for these dogs to keep sneezing when playing. Brachycephalic or flat-faced dog breeds do not have the same noses as other breeds, so they experience issues other breeds do not experience.


Just as sneezing could mean an indication to play, it could equally mean “I am tired, I have had enough for today.” A dog could sneeze to inform its owner or a fellow dog that it wants to stop playing; perhaps it is exhausted already. This is common in puppies and older dogs; as much as they enjoy playing, they get tired easily.

This is more likely the case if you notice a yawn and the dog lying down immediately after the sneeze. So, whenever you see your dog doing this, the best thing is to let the dog rest and relax. If a dog yawns when playing with another dog, it signifies that it is uninterested and wants to leave without any aggressive attempt.

Dog Sneezes When Excited

As a dog owner, you should know that it is normal for a dog to sneeze when excited; this sneeze is different from other sneezes, and you must be able to differentiate them. You can tell when a dog is sneezing due to excitement; it sounds like a snort. It is caused by the sudden air flowing out through the nose, producing a huffing sound.

These sneezes are not true sneezes; you can know a true sneeze. It starts when there is tickling or irritation in the dog’s nose, and it starts from the chest – the dog is trying to get rid of the irritant, accompanied by mucus or saliva. Irritants in the nose do not cause excited sneezes; the dog does not do this to clear its nose.

This sneeze is very shallow and is usually a huff of air; this is an emotional sneeze, not a physical sneeze. It is a response to emotional feelings rather than a physical occurrence. Also, a dog will sneeze when it is excited to become calm before a situation gets out of control. They also use this sneeze to communicate with other dogs.

An excitement sneeze can also be an invitation to another dog to come and play; this sneeze signifies that the dog wants to play, not fight. Moreover, as the play intensifies, both dogs sneeze more; this reminds them that they are having fun and should make it remain fun.

yellow background dogWhat Does It Mean When My Dog Sneezes At Me?

There is a common reason why a dog sneezes; it has an irritant stuck in its nose and is trying to get rid of it. However, when your dog faces you to sneeze, it is for another reason. One of the main reasons your dog will sneeze at you is to get you to play with it – this is referred to as an excitement sneeze. The dog wants to get your attention, so it sneezes at you. This behavior will be repeated if you succumb to it.

Final Thoughts

As a dog owner, one of the best things you can do is find out everything about your dog breed. It is cool to have a general idea of dog behaviors, but it is imperative to know about your dog breed. This will save you from stress and worries about common issues with the dog breed.

Also read: