Reverse Sneezing in Dogs: Everything You Need To Know

Reverse sneezing in dogs can be a puzzling and sometimes alarming occurrence for pet owners. This phenomenon has a medical name: inspiratory paroxysmal respiration.

It is characterized by a series of quick and forceful inhalations through the nose, accompanied by snorting sounds. It also gives the sensation that your dog is trying to inhale while sneezing. While it may seem distressing, it’s often a benign reflex.

It’s important to recognize that reverse sneezing is not usually a sign of a serious health condition. Generally, this reflex is triggered by irritation or inflammation of the nasal passages or the back of the throat.

Factors such as excitement, exercise, or a misdirected gulp of water can prompt this response. Certain breeds, like smaller dogs and brachycephalic breeds, are more prone to episodes of reverse sneezing.

While it’s crucial to monitor for any accompanying signs that might warrant veterinary attention, reverse sneezing episodes are typically short-lived and resolve on their own.

Key Takeaways

picture of a cute dog sneezing.

Understanding Reverse Sneezing

A dog's head tilting back, mouth open, making snorting sounds. Tail may be tucked, eyes wide

When your dog suddenly starts snorting or making choking-like sounds, they could be experiencing a reverse sneezing episode. It’s a common occurrence in dogs, but it can be startling if you don’t know what’s happening.

What Is Reverse Sneezing?

The Mechanism Behind Reverse Sneezing

The process that occurs during a reverse sneezing episode involves a spasm of the soft palate and throat.

When the soft palate, which separates the mouth from the nasal passages, becomes irritated, it can cause a spasm that makes it difficult for your dog to smoothly inhale air. This results in a distinct loud snorting sound as your dog forcefully tries to inhale.

Common Triggers of Reverse Sneezing

Various factors can irritate the soft palate and throat, causing your dog to reverse sneeze. Common triggers might include:

a dog reverse sneezing with mouth open

Brachycephalic breeds, those with a short skull shape, like Bulldogs or Pugs, might be more prone to these episodes due to their conformation affecting their breathing.

Remember, reverse sneezing typically isn’t harmful, but if episodes are frequent or severe, you might want to check in with your vet.

Signs and Symptoms

A dog stands with head extended, making rapid, loud inhalations through the nose, accompanied by snorting or gagging sounds

When your dog experiences a reverse sneezing episode, it’s easy to notice because the signs are quite distinctive. Keep an eye out for specific sounds and behaviors.

Identifying Reverse Sneezing

Reverse sneezing in dogs can make you worried the first time you see it. It’s marked by a strange snorting sound or gagging noise that comes on suddenly.

During these episodes, you might notice your dog sneezing or making a honking sound, typically with their neck extended and elbows out. Their chest will heave with effort as they try to pull air in through the spasming throat.

Dog holding in a sneeze

Differential Diagnosis

It’s important to distinguish reverse sneezing from other potential issues. A genuine sneeze is the body’s way of removing irritation from the nasal passages, expelling air out.

In contrast, reverse sneezing involves rapid inhalations through the nose. If your dog is making similar sounds but also coughing or in distress, it might not be reverse sneezing but something more serious like a respiratory infection or a foreign object lodged in the throat. If you’re unsure, always check with your vet.

Common Causes of Reverse Sneezing

A dog with a startled expression, head extended, and making snorting sounds with a slightly open mouth

When your furry friend starts making those weird, honking sounds, it might freak you out, but it’s often just reverse sneezing. This odd-looking phenomenon usually isn’t a red flag for something serious. So, what’s tickling your pup’s schnoz?

  • Allergies: Yep, just like you, your dog can react to allergies. Things like dust, pollen, and even smoke are common triggers that can tickle your dog’s nasal passage.
  • Irritants: Strong perfumes or household cleaning products might not bother you, but they can prompt a reverse sneeze in your pooch.
  • Nasal Mites: Sounds gross, but sometimes tiny critters like nasal mites can set up camp in your dog’s nose, leading to irritation.
  • Foreign Bodies: Your dog loves to sniff, but when they get a bit too nosy, they might inhale something they shouldn’t. Small particles or even blades of grass can be troublesome invaders.

Here’s a quick summary:

AllergiesPollen, dust, mold, smoke
IrritantsStrong scents, chemicals
Nasal MitesTiny parasites
Foreign BodiesStuff they sniff up

Remember, reverse sneezing is often nothing to sweat over. It’s usually your dog’s way of clearing the inflammation or irritation. Keep an eye on them and give your vet a ring if it becomes a frequent hiccup in their day.

Breeds at Higher Risk

A dog with narrowed nostrils and a tense neck, making a snorting sound while inhaling rapidly

When it comes to reverse sneezing in dogs, certain breeds have a predisposition due to their specific anatomical structure. You might have noticed that some pups with shorter snouts, known as brachycephalic breeds, are more prone to this quirky sounding phenomenon.

For instance, if you own a Pug, Bulldog, Shih Tzu, or a Boxer, you might be more familiar with the sounds of reverse sneezing. These breeds tend to have elongated soft palates or narrow nasal passages, which can increase the likelihood of reverse sneezing episodes.

Here’s a quick rundown:

If you’re noticing your dog having these reverse sneezing episodes, it’s usually no cause for alarm, but it’s something you might expect with these breeds.

Just keep a watchful eye to ensure what you’re seeing is reverse sneezing and not something that warrants a vet visit. Remember, when in doubt, it’s better to check it out!

Managing and Treating Reverse Sneezing

A dog with a closed mouth and flared nostrils, making rapid, loud inhalations, with a tense body posture

Home Remedies

Getting through a reverse sneezing episode is often about helping your dog stay calm. Gently massaging their throat can ease the spasming and stop the sneezing.

Try to create a calm environment; lower noise levels and comfortable lighting can help reduce stress, which can in turn minimize sneezing attacks.

When to Visit the Veterinarian

Head to your local veterinarian if the sneezing is chronic, or if it comes with other worrying symptoms like discharge, coughing, or if it’s affecting your dog’s quality of life. They’ll know if it’s just an innocuous nose-tickle or something more serious needing medical treatment.

Medical Treatments Available

Your vet might suggest medical treatments if needed. This could range from antihistamines to manage allergies, to steroids for more chronic cases. These medications help reduce inflammation and allergic responses, which can prevent sneezing episodes.

Preventing Reverse Sneezing Episodes

A dog standing calmly with its head tilted back, mouth closed, and eyes slightly bulging, as if experiencing a reverse sneezing episode

Keeping your furry friend from having reverse sneezing episodes is all about managing their environment and being mindful of their needs. Here’s the lowdown:

A dog with a wrinkled nose, eyes wide, and neck extended, as if struggling to breathe, with a concerned owner nearby

When your buddy experiences a reverse sneezing episode, it’s usually not a biggie. But sometimes, you gotta watch out, because it can point to other health issues that may need a vet’s attention.

Respiratory Distress: If your dog’s reverse sneezing is frequent and they show signs of struggle—like labored breathing—it could signal something more serious. Keep an eye on them; you know your furry friend best.

If you’re in doubt, or if those sneezes just don’t seem right, trust your gut and give your vet a shout. They’ll help sniff out the problem and get your four-legged pal back to their happy, sniffly self.

Reverse Sneezing Vs. Other Respiratory Issues

A dog with its head tilted back, making a snorting sound, while its chest heaves in and out rapidly

When your dog makes a loud snorting sound, it might just be a harmless episode of reverse sneezing. However, it’s important to distinguish this from other respiratory issues, which can be more serious.

Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is characterized by a strong, persistent cough that often sounds like a goose honk. It’s highly contagious and can turn into pneumonia if not treated properly.

Unlike reverse sneezing, kennel cough may be accompanied by nasal discharge and a fever. Check out more about kennel cough and its treatment.

Tracheal Collapse

If your dog has a collapsing trachea, you’ll notice a dry, harsh cough that sounds worse than a sneeze and often occurs when they get excited or exercise. It’s because their windpipe flattens, making it hard to breathe.

Small breeds are more prone to a collapsing trachea, which can be managed with medication or, in severe cases, surgery.

Asthma and Allergies

Asthma in dogs, often related to allergies, causes wheezing, difficulty breathing, and potentially a chronic cough. Not to be confused with reverse sneezing, which is typically a short episode, asthma can cause more persistent respiratory distress. Identifying and removing allergy triggers is key to managing asthma symptoms.

Support and Care for Your Dog

A dog sitting calmly while a person gently supports its neck and soothes it during a reverse sneezing episode

When your furry companion experiences a reverse sneezing episode, it’s essential to stay calm. Your pooch can sense your emotions, and your tranquility can help them relax.

Here’s what you can do to assist:

Specific actions can also be beneficial:

  • Soothing Hold: Gently cradle their throat to encourage them to swallow; this can help stop the spasm.
  • Check the Neck: Make sure their collar isn’t too tight. A snug collar can make things worse.

When to See the Vet:

Occasional reverse sneezingGenerally no worry
Consistent & FrequentVet check-up recommended
Accompanied by other symptomsImmediate vet consultation

Keep these caring tips in mind, and you’ll be well-prepared to support your dog through a reverse sneezing fit. Remember, most dogs continue to live happy, healthy lives even if reverse sneezing is a quirky part of their behavior. If you’re unsure about your dog’s health condition, it never hurts to consult with a vet.