Oh, my, there he goes again! CHU! CHU (dogs don’t “A”chu)! You already know how it feels to sneeze, so you feel sorry for your dog when he does it. If it were every once in a while, you wouldn’t worry. 

However, it’s all too often. Plus, it seems there is a relationship between his sneezing fits and mealtimes. What is causing this phenomenon? Should you fret over it? Do you need to do something about it? Let’s search for some answers.

Why does my dog sneeze when he eats?

Sure, dogs sneeze. They sneeze all the time for all kinds of different reasons, but your dog sneezes when he eats, and you want to know why. Check out these possibilities.

Irritants

When dogs hunt or even when they play hard, it is not that uncommon at all to find blades of grass, parts of leaves, small twigs, and more trapped in the nose, sinuses, and throat. Eating may aggravate an already bad situation causing his body to let out a big, healthy sneeze as it tries to dislodge and expel the foreign object. 

Allergies

Another cause to consider is everyday environmental allergies. The simplest things like your choice of laundry detergent, air freshener, carpet cleaner, or perfume could be causing your dog’s sneezes. It could be that eating just stirs them up.

There is a good possibility that your dog has seasonal allergies. Seasonal allergies are environmental allergies but ones that come and go with the time of year.

Some allergens that cause reactions in dogs are fresh cut grass, pollen, plant fibers, and trees. These sneezing triggers don’t have to be inhaled but can also be absorbed through the skin.

Other signs to look for, besides sneezing, are inflamed or infected skin, excessive scratching or biting at himself, respiratory problems, chronic ear problems, shedding that’s out of context, licking or biting his paws, or scooting or licking his anal area.

Food allergies

Just like a human, a dog can eat a certain food all its life. Then, one day, it can suddenly become allergic to it. No one knows why. Here is what we do know. According to the American Kennel Club, true food allergies are actually fairly rare. Here are the facts.

True food allergies will provoke a response from your dog’s immune system. Such a reaction may take the form of a skin manifestation, like a bad itch, hives, or a swollen face, or of gastrointestinal upset, such as diarrhea or vomiting, or the victim may contract any combination of these symptoms. Though it is rare, anaphylaxis can occur with a food allergy in a dog.

Food Sensitivity

However, what is more likely is that your dog has a food sensitivity. A food sensitivity, while it may provoke a somewhat serious response, does not produce an immune response. A food sensitivity is a gradual intolerance response to an irritant, in this case, a food.

The most common culprits are soy, eggs, dairy, beef, chicken, turkey, pork, lamb, rabbit, and fish. Only about one-third of food intolerances are to plant-based foods.

A dog with a food intolerance may show signs of, besides sneezing while eating, gastrointestinal upset, like vomiting or diarrhea, skin conditions, such as a severe itch, rash, dull coat, or chronic infections of the ears or paws.

Breeding

Dogs with a cut-off muzzle and flat face are a breed known as brachycephalic. This breed of dog suffers from BOAS (brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome), also known as congenital obstructive upper airway disease and brachycephalic respiratory syndrome, or just plain brachycephalic syndrome.

A brachycephalic dog has an airway that’s shorter than that of other breeds. This is not natural. It is a product of breeding, and one or more of several abnormalities can occur in each brachycephalic dog. Two, in particular, affect the nose and nasal passages.

Stenotic Nares

If your dog has stenotic nares, he has tiny or ultra-narrow nostrils. Because the openings are so small, there is a limit to the flow of air your dog can enjoy. The tiniest irritant could cause him to sneeze like crazy.

Nasopharyngeal Turbinates

Bone ridges covered over with tissue in your brachycephalic dog’s nose are called nasopharyngeal turbinates. They help warm and humidify the air your dog breathes in. Sometimes, they can grow abnormally into the area past the nose obstructing airflow.

Why does my dog sneeze after eating?

So, your dog doesn’t sneeze while he’s eating but only after he eats. Is that different? Let’s look at that.

Rhinitis

Some humans always sneeze after eating. It’s a condition called gustatory rhinitis or non-allergic rhinitis in which the nerves in the nasal cavity are ultra-sensitive to environmental triggers.

Symptoms that can occur within moments of eating include sneezing, nasal stuffiness or congestion, or a runny nose. It may be the same idea with your dog. Dogs have hypersensitive noses, so this theory doesn’t sound too far-fetched.

Food Allergy

Again, it could be a food allergy, but if it is, your dog will have an immune response, such as a skin condition or GI distress. It is most likely a food sensitivity if it has to do with his food.

Food Sensitivity?

Often, when a dog has a food intolerance, it won’t hit him the second he eats it. Many times, it will be after the meal is over before the response, in this case, the sneezing, begins. It could very well be a food sensitivity.

Read more about food allergies and food sensitivities on the AKC website.

Why does my dog reverse sneeze after eating?

Maybe your dog isn’t sneezing after he eats but reverse sneezing. What is reverse sneezing, and what causes it?

What in the world is reverse sneezing?

You can think of a reverse sneeze like a backward sneeze. Its occurrence has to do with a dog’s soft palate.

The muscular portion in the back of the roof of a dog’s mouth is his soft palate. The soft palate helps a dog swallow, breathe, and “speak.” When the soft palate gets irritated, the dreaded reverse sneeze occurs. 

What actually happens is that the irritation makes that muscular area spasm. Then, this causes a narrowing of the trachea. The dog stretches out his neck to try and expand his chest, so he can breathe.

However, since his trachea has been narrowed, he is not able to breathe in a full breath. When he fiercely tries to get a breath through his nose, he backward sneezes.

Reverse sneezes actually sound like honking geese. It’s a loud snorting sound. Most bouts of reverse sneezing last no longer than around 30 seconds.

What causes reverse sneezing?

Some common causes of reverse sneezing are overexcitement, eating, drinking, exercise, foreign objects in the throat, nasal mites, and allergies of all kinds. Reverse sneezing is common to terrier breeds.

Why does my dog sneeze when I am eating?

Dogs use sneezing to communicate with each other when they are playing and also in collective decision-making. They also use sneezing as what is referred to as a “calming signal.” They may sneeze to convey that they are comfortable being in a particular situation.

It only stands to reason, then, that when your dog sneezes while you are eating, he is probably trying to communicate something to you. That leaves you with the question — What is it that he is trying to tell me?

The obvious choice would be, “Please, please think I am adorable, so adorable that you want to share your food with me.” Next would be, “I am flirting around with you just because you make over me when I do it.” These, by the way, are fake sneezes. The third obvious choice would be, “Hurry up and eat so that we can cuddle or play or something.”

What to do about my dog sneezing when eating?

You should consult your vet, period, for she is the one with the knowledge and experience to help you decide what the issue is and what you can and should do about it.

For instance, if there is a foreign object lodged in the nasal passages or throat, she is the one who can remove it. If it is an environmental allergen, she can tell you how to figure out what it is. If it is a food sensitivity, she can tell you where to start with a more suitable diet.

Plus, only your vet can prescribe an antihistamine for your dog’s allergies or an antiparasitic for his nasal mites.

Author

I created and currently manage Pet Dog Owner, the website you can go to when you have questions about your dog's behavior. It is my hope that you find Pet Dog Owner to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your dog. You can read more about me and my website here.