Is your dog sneezing?
Are you sure he’s not snorting?
Do you know how to tell the difference?
A sneeze is a violent, involuntary response to an irritant, usually located in the upper respiratory tract, especially the nasal passages. Dust, pollen, molds, foreign material such as a blade of grass, these are all things that can cause the body to want to initiate an effort to expel the offending material.
A snort, on the other hand, is an expression of opinion. Dogs frequently snort to let you know they don’t like what you’re doing or what you’re asking them to do.
Our Peyton was a good example. When asked to roll over, he would commonly look at us with those beautiful brown eyes, as if pleading not to have to do the trick. Then, he would snort to further communicate his dislike of the task. However, if we continued to look at him, conveying that we really wanted him to roll over, he would give in.
Snorting can be differentiated from a sneeze by its less-violent force and its conscious control. Also, the circumstances convey clues. Snorting usually follows instruction to perform a task a dog wishes not to do, or a situation that makes a dog nervous, such as a new visitor to one’s home. Snorting may also convey impatience, such as not getting a treat quickly enough when one is expected.
Snorting requires no medical intervention.
Uncontrolled sneezing, however, indicates a medical problem for which your dog or cat should be seen. The situation is urgent when blood and/or pus are expelled during the sneeze.
See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.