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Reverse Sneezing in Dogs

A common cause of concern for smaller, and old dogs, reverse sneezing is a respiratory event. Read the DogAppy article to find out what the causes are, and understand the treatment options.
DogAppy Staff
It is a common, involuntary spasm which gets triggered by an irritation of the soft palate and throat. When your pet dog sneezes regularly, what happens is the air is pushed out through his/her nose. What happens here is that the air is pulled in rapidly through the nose, which produces a noisy inhalation attempt. A loud snorting or wheezing-like sound is made, which is often a cause of alarm for many dog owners. But rest assured, it is not a life-threatening condition.
Possible Causes
Technically, a reverse sneeze is not actually a sneeze. This problem usually shows itself in aged dogs. However, some dogs can have this condition throughout their lives. Now before we take a look at specific treatment methods, let's see what the main causes are.
  • The major causes are various types of irritants like dust, pollen, mites, household chemicals and cleaners, and/or dog allergies.
  • Some common causes also include viruses, inflamed nasal passage and post-natal drip.
  • If your dog eats food or drinks water rapidly, this habit can also cause this health issue.
  • When the dog is annoyed or can't tolerate exercise and other physical activities, or if you pull on his/her leash too hard.
  • Sinusitis and other respiratory disorders can also cause an episode.
  • Typically, small dogs experience this health issue, but other breeds can also go through the episodes.
  • Breeds which are prone to reverse sneezing are Boxers, Pugs, Shih Tzus, Bulldogs, and Boston Terriers (due to a genetic factor).
Treatment Options
As a loving dog owner, you surely wouldn't be comfortable with just standing on the side, while your dog goes through an episode. There is something you can do to shorten the episode. When your dog is standing still with the elbows turned towards the sides, it's a general indication of an episode. In such a case ...
  • massage the dog's neck very gently.
  • pinch the dog's nostrils to shut them. This will make him/her swallow properly and breathe from the mouth.
  • touch his/her tongue and provoke the swallowing reflex.
  • offer your dog to eat or drink something; this will shorten the episode as well.
  • go for a nice, long walk, so that he/she can breathe in fresh air.
  • use a harness collar instead; if you notice that the episode begins after pulling on the leash. The pressure on the neck won't bother him/her, as compared to the traditional collar.
  • check if your dog is not choking on any foreign object, or if something is stuck in his/her throat.
  • rush him/her to the veterinarian if your dog can't breathe, collapses and/or seems in serious distress.
A reverse sneeze lasts only for a few seconds, or perhaps a minute or so. If you notice frequent occurrences, visit your veterinarian immediately. It is not an illness, but more severe episodes need a checkup done by the veterinarian for any allergies, sinusitis, persistent cough and/or upper respiratory disorders.