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What is a Reverse Sneeze in Dogs?

What is a Reverse Sneeze in Dogs?

Your dog suddenly stops, extends its neck, and produces a loud snorting sound. There is a good chance that you have just witnessed a reverse sneeze, common in small dogs. Below, our Stuart vets explain paroxysmal respiration.

What is a reverse sneeze in dogs?

In a condition known as paroxysmal respiration, also known as reverse sneezing, the dog rapidly inhales air through the nose, making a loud snorting noise. Your dog's sneezing and deep breathing movements resemble each other somewhat.

When a dog reverses sneezes they typically raise its head, extend its neck, and begins making a loud snorting noise. Most reverse sneezing episodes last for less than a minute but can be frightening for pet parents, and alarming for the pet.

What causes reverse sneezing in dogs?

Reverse sneezing is thought to be the dog's attempt to get rid of the irritant causing the problem. It is thought to be brought on by inflammation or irritation of the nasal, pharyngeal, or sinus passages. Dust, nasal mites, seeds, grass, pollen, smoke, and conditions like masses or an elongated soft palate are some irritants thought to cause the reverse sneezing reflex in dogs.

In some cases, dogs may also begin to reverse sneeze when over-excited.

Is reverse sneezing harmful to dogs?

The reverse sneeze is generally not a cause for alarm in dogs. Usually, the sneezing lasts for less than a minute, and then the dogs resume their normal activities. There are no negative health effects, and your dog will probably act as if nothing happened.

There are some signs, though, that may point to an underlying health problem. If your dog has suddenly developed reverse sneezing, it’s always a good idea to have them examined by your veterinarian, just to determine the right diagnosis.

Some symptoms that can point to other conditions like asthma, heart disease, and tracheal collapse include:

  • Labored breathing
  • Ongoing, consistent cough
  • Frequent wheezing
  • Panting without exercise
  • Open-mouthed breathing
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of interest in exercise
  • Pale or blue gums

All of the above symptoms deserve further investigation, if your dog is displaying one or more of these symptoms contact your vet right away to book an examination for your dog.

How can I help my dog through a reverse sneezing episode?

Once your dog has been examined and given a clean bill of health from your vet, there are a few things you can do to help ease your pet through these scary episodes. 

  • Stay calm and upbeat, to help your dog’s anxiety and stress.
  • Address any anxiety or fear your pet may be facing and keep them focused on enrichment toys and activities as a way to avoid anxiety or overexcitement.
  • Massage your pet’s throat to get them to swallow. This can sometimes help to stop the episode.
  • Gently lift their head up and then down.
  • Distract your pet with a toy, treat, or dinner.

We know that this condition can seem out of the ordinary, but for most otherwise healthy dogs it looks and sounds scarier than it is. 

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If you have any additional questions about reverse sneezing, or to schedule an appointment for your dog, contact Animal Care Extraordinaire. Our vets take pride in improving the health of Stuart pets.

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