Sneezing in Dogs and Cats

Information to help with respiratory health and frequent sneezing in cats and dogs.

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  1. What is Sneezing?
  2. Help for Sneezing
  3. More Information on Cats and Dogs Sneezing

What is Sneezing?

When your pet inhales a breath, he or she also inhales tiny particles of dust and irritants. The nose of a cat or dog is extremely sensitive to smells and odors. It doesn’t take much to make a cat or dog sneeze.

When your pet sneezes, its body is trying to get rid of something that is bothering the fine hairs in the nasal passages. This could be from dust or irritants due to allergies.

As air moves up the nasal cavity, nose hairs and mucus collect these ‘rogue’ particles. The animal body is triggered to shut the epiglottis at the back of the throat, contract the chest and let out a sneeze.

An occasional sneeze shouldn’t raise alarm. If your cat or dog is sneezing a lot, it could be a sign that something isn’t right. An upper respiratory infection, nasal tumors, feline leukemia, nasal mites, viral infections or fungal infections can all trigger sneezing.

Cats and dogs are prone to runny nose and sneezing if they have a respiratory infection, because sensitive membranes become inflamed. This is similar to the common cold or flu in humans. Pet colds are caused by a virus or bacteria.

Sneezing can pass the infection to other dogs and cats. Pets at shelters are especially at risk of infection, since they live in close quarters with other animals. Older pets are at increased risk due to a weakened immune system and age-related changes in the nasal membranes.

There are numerous bacteria that can cause sneezing in cats and dog, including Pasteurella, Bordetella, streptococci and pseudomonal bacteria. Feline herpes virus can also cause sneezing in cats.

Bordetella and adeno-2 cause kennel cough in dogs.

The two most common causes of cats sneezing a lot are the rhinotracheitis virus (herpes-1), calicivirus and the organisms chlamydia psittaci and mycoplasma. Non-infectious causes of sneezing include household detergents, allergies, foreign bodies, tooth abscesses and breed characteristics.

Help for Sneezing

If your dog or cat keeps sneezing and you’re concerned, take a rectal temperature reading. A fever can indicate a respiratory tract infection. The normal temperature of a cat or dog is about 102.5F. A temperature over 103.5F may indicate a problem.

Conventional preventative treatment for respiratory tract viruses usually includes vaccination. Treatment of an active infection will usually include antibiotics, vitamin A and good nutrition.

Cat and dog owners should be aware that some antibiotics and vaccinations may have unwanted side effects. Call your veterinarian to evaluate the risks and benefits.


More Information on Sneezing

Tips related to sneezing pets:
  • Cats rely on their sense of smell to trigger their appetite, so if they are unwell you may need to tempt them with pungent smelling foods to keep them eating!
  • If your pet is going to board at kennels, make sure that his or her immune system is up for the challenge and in tip top shape
  • If your pet is allergic to certain detergents and household products, switch to all-natural cleaning products
  • If your pet has a respiratory infection, make sure they are fed adequate, healthy food full of nutritious minerals and vitamins to help them with recovery
  • Try a natural medicine such as FCV Protect™ Granules for Cat Respiratory Problems, a natural medicine for respiratory infections and symptoms of feline calicivirus.
  • Respo-K™ Tablets for Pet Respiratory & Cold Symptoms is a homeopathic medicine for colds and respiratory irritation in pets.
The content provided is for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you have a health condition, please consult a medical professional and do not use this information to self-diagnose or self-treat.


  1. “If Your Cat’s Sneezing, Do They Have a Cold?” PetMD. Accessed February 21, 2020.
  2. “Why Cats Sneeze.” Fetch by WebMD. Accessed February 21, 2020.
  3. “My Pet is Sneezing and Snorting. What’s Going On?” VetStreet. Accessed February 21, 2020.
  4. “Reverse Sneezing in Dogs: Is It Normal?” PetMD. Accessed February 21, 2020.


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