A DOG FOR THE FAMILY
Does your dog sneeze a lot? Does it mean he has an allergy? Maybe he wants to go hunting with you, you know, to the grocery store...
SNEEZING: DOG COMMUNICATION OR DISEASE?
Do you understand your dog’s body language as well as he reads yours? Scientists reveal what it means when he sneezes as you are getting ready to “go” somewhere.
Probably, you didn’t catch on to what your dog’s behavior really means. Who would equate sneezing with “lets go” or “c’mon, I’m ready”? The answer is amazing. Researchers studying African wild dogs (among the world's most-endangered species) noticed “African wild dogs vote over pack decisions by sneezing.” Video below but first, get a handle on this sneezing stuff.
Now think. What does your dog do when you pick up the car keys or his leash? If he is usually allowed to “ride along” or is accustomed to walking with you, he will get excited about your decision to “go” and now you’ll notice, he may sneeze as he wags.
Led by Dr Andrew King of Swansea University, researchers discovered the sneezes act as a behavior signal, agreement on a silent motion to hunt - a "quorum" if you will. They realized the wild dogs at the Botswana Predator Conservation Trust were not “clearing their airways” as first thought. No, they were signaling agreement and intent. (You’ve been told dogs can’t plan ahead but as an astute dog owner, you know better…)
Wolves, coyotes, hyenas, and wild dogs are pack animals and as social as your domestic dog. Your pet is part of your pack. The zoologists “noticed the more sneezes there were, the more likely it was the pack moved off and started hunting.” So when your dog “senses” you are going out to hunt (at the grocery store or some other hunting ground which provides food in paper bags) he wants to go on the hunt too.
Dr King said: "The sneezes act as a type of quorum, and the sneezes have to reach a certain threshold before the group changes activity.” How cool is that! Caution: If your dog sneezes often and for no apparent reason, it could indicate a deadly health problem. See end of page health information.
We asked google for some videos on sneezing dogs. Bingo! We selected short video clips you can watch now but don’t miss the caveat about sneezing behavior.
This 16 sec. clip is from the actual study by Reena H. Walker, Andrew J. King, etc... You are not a dog so you'll have to watch closely but the pack "gets it."
And just for fun this sneezing fit, fortunately for the dog, only lasts 30 seconds…
However… if you dog sneezes chronically, something is wrong. If the sneezing is something new, think about an environmental allergy like new carpet or furniture. But if sneezing persists, it could be a nasal tumor.
And about allergies. Dogs can have allergies just like people but instead of sneezing it often makes them scratch! Owners usually connect intense itching and scratching with fleas but most dogs are not “allergic” to something they naturally host so take a minute and learn the most frequent causes of chronic sneezing or scratching.