Dear Doctor: The dog can’t stop sneezing


Q. We split our time between Dallas and Amelia Island off the coast of Florida. In both locations, our 13-year-old Pomeranian sneezes several times a day with an occasional cough. And her breathing sometimes sounds like she has asthma. We adopted her two years ago at age 11, and the vet kept her sneezing to a minimum with Apoquel and Benadryl. However, lately she is sneezing 15 to 20 times a day, even on this medication regimen. Any suggestions?

Pat Saari
Dallas, Texas

Dear Ms. Saari,

A. Your dog would benefit from a veterinary workup, preferably by someone board-certified in internal medicine. Sneezing and coughing have a number of possible causes. These include allergies, which your dog is being treated for with the medicines your veterinarian has prescribed. In an older dog such as yours, chronic sneezing could also indicate a problem in the nasal cavity or sinuses. The possibilities include

  • a benign or malignant tumor.
  • a fungal infection.

“There is also infection with nasal mites that can occur,” says Tufts veterinary internist Mary Labato, DVM. Coughing on its own could indicate heart disease or various problems in the lungs.

What it comes down to, Dr. Labato says, is the need for a good oral and nasal exam to start with, followed by imaging: chest radiographs or a CT scan. Please keep us posted on the diagnosis.


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