Have you noticed your dog wheezing often lately? Has this just started recently, or is it a long-term issue? Although you should always take your dog to the vet if you notice any new, concerning symptoms, it’s also a good idea to inform yourself about the possible problems related to wheezing in your furry friend.Achoo! It’s sneeze season for humans. You’re pretty likely to be fighting off some sinus issues this time of year, but what about your best bud? Why is your dog sneezing? If you notice that your dog is sneezing a lot, it could be due to allergies, a virus, or even just play.Read on for more information about what causes dogs to sneeze, the different types of dog sneezes, and when to be concerned.
Dog Sneezing at Play
If you’ve played with a dog or watched them frolic with other pets, you’ve probably seen a play sneeze in action. Many dogs sneeze dramatically in the midst of play—particularly when things are getting really exciting.
According to dog behavior experts, this kind of sneeze is a type of communication and is likely used to signal to the playmate that the roughhousing is just for fun or to diffuse a stressful situation. Dogs use their whole bodies to communicate, and the sneeze is yet another tool in their arsenal.
If you notice your dog keeps sneezing during play, and only during play, it’s likely that their sneezes aren’t anything to worry about. However, if they keep sneezing uncontrollably or you notice traces of blood, you should check with your vet to make sure something else isn’t going on.
The Canine Reverse Sneeze
You’re likely to be pretty alarmed if your dog suddenly makes a repeated gasping or choking sound. However, there’s frequently an innocuous reason for that terrifying noise: the reverse sneeze.
A reverse sneeze is when your dog inhales loudly through their nose in spasms that can sound like choking or gagging. The American Kennel Club (AKC) notes that this common and incredibly weird reflex is thought to be a response to irritation or inflammation and might help your dog remove foreign objects, allergens, or irritants.
In general, reverse sneezes are harmless. If your pet seems to be in a lot of discomfort or can’t stop reverse sneezing, you may be able to help by gently massaging their throat or lightly blowing in their face. This should trigger the swallowing reflex, which can help ease the spasms. Getting your pet some fresh air might help, too.
It’s unlikely that you’ll need to give your dog medication for reverse sneezing, but your vet might prescribe antihistamines if the reverse sneezing is the result of allergies or becomes more serious.
What Causes A Dog To Start Wheezing?
You may have noticed that your dog has suddenly developed a wheezing sound when they breathe, or they may have always had a little bit of noise when breathing that is gradually getting worse. Wheezing can indicate a serious underlying condition, so it is important to understand why it is happening.
Why Is My Dog Wheezing?
Wheezing in dogs occurs when something impairs or blocks the flow of air in the windpipe, causing stridor (a whistling sound). This can be caused by swelling and inflammation in the airways, something getting stuck in the windpipe, or a number of medical issues.1
A few seconds of wheezing is likely nothing to be concerned about, but if your dog is constantly wheezing or the wheezing is accompanied by other symptoms, it could indicate a serious health issue that warrants a visit to the vet.
Causes Of Dog Wheezing
Canine chronic bronchitis is a condition that affects the lower airways in a dog’s lungs. In bronchitis, inflammation causes the airways to swell and release mucous, ultimately causing the airways to narrow. The main symptom of bronchitis is coughing (an attempt to clear the airways), however, as the condition worsens, dogs will have difficulty breathing and may begin to wheeze when exhaling.
A collapsed trachea is a chronic condition in dogs that affects the windpipe (trachea). Weak cartilage in the supportive rings around the trachea collapse, leading to mild to severe obstruction of a dog’s airway. Symptoms of this condition include a honking cough and abnormal breathing sounds, including wheezing.
Airborne allergens such as pollen, mold, and dust can cause a dog to wheeze. When these allergens enter the dog’s airways, an allergic response may cause the airway to swell, making breathing difficult.2
Kennel cough is a highly contagious upper respiratory infection that causes irritation in the airways. The most common symptom is a persistent dry cough, but breathing difficulties such as wheezing can also develop or worsen with exercise.
Upper respiratory tract infections are similar to a cold or flu in humans and can cause wheezing in dogs. The symptoms of these infections usually include coughing, sneezing, difficulty breathing (including wheezing), and low exercise tolerance.3
Various heart diseases such as cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and mitral valve disease can cause wheezing in older dogs and occasionally younger dogs. These diseases can cause dogs to have difficulty breathing due to lethargy and exercise intolerance, which may cause wheezing.4
Foreign bodies stuck in your dog’s windpipe can cause wheezing due to partial obstruction of the airway. These objects could include bone fragments, large pieces of food, toys, sticks, or other objects your dog might find around the house or yard. This is especially a problem in younger dogs who like to chew on just about anything, so if you notice your puppy wheezing, take action right away.
As you can see there are many different causes of wheezing in dogs. Some of which are preventable with proper parasite control, vaccination, or environmental changes. Other causes unfortunately cannot be prevented but the symptoms your dog shows can be greatly reduced with the proper medication. Always take your dog to the vet if the wheezing is worsening or affecting their quality of life.