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Reverse Sneezing in Dogs


Reverse sneezing, also known as Pharyngeal Gag Reflex or Paroxysmal Respiration, is a relatively widespread respiratory condition in dogs that is normally triggered off by a spasm in the pooch’s soft palate as well as laryngeal area. It is often referred to as “reverse sneeze” because during the event, the dog is gasping air heavily inward, instead of simply expelling it, like in a typical sneeze. Although harmless in and of itself, reverse sneezing can be rather alarming for dog owners to see and can be indicative of a more serious problem.

What Happens During a Reverse Sneeze?

· Usually, dogs extend their neck as they gasp with loud and strong grunting sound. They are likely to turn their elbows out and their eyes may even stick out during the occurrence.
· Since the trachea becomes narrow, it’s even harder for dogs to get a sufficient amount of air into their lungs. As a result, their chest might expand as they try to inhale.
· During the episode, most owners would think their pooch is suffocating, choking, or even suffering from a seizure.
· Each occurrence of reverse sneezing only lasts for just a couple of minutes or less. The episode normally ends on its own without posing any threat to your dog’s health.

Fortunately, dogs appear normal both before and right after the event, without after effects. Dogs don’t lose their consciousness, and this phenomenon is often harmless, and rarely requires medical treatment.

Common Causes

Reverse sneezing can be set off by a wide variety of irritants and some forms of dog allergies. Pollen, dust, mites, viruses, post-nasal drip, nasal inflammation, perfumes, and household cleaners or chemicals are some of the known triggering factors. Other causes include exercise intolerance, rapid drinking or eating, pulling on leashes, and even excitement. It’s also very likely that sinusitis and other kinds of respiratory problems can lead to episodes of reverse sneezing.

Although any dog breed can experience this fairly common respiratory condition, it is more widespread in smaller pooches. Short-faced dogs like Boxers, Boston Terriers, Bulldogs, Pugs, and Shih Tzus are found to be more at risk of reverse sneezing. It has been suspected that a genetic factor is involved with such kind of breeds.

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30 Responses to Reverse Sneezing in Dogs
  1. Dog Reverse Sneeze - Animals Kingdom
    March 31, 2014 | 9:37 pm

    […] Reverse sneezing in dogs | the dogington post […]

  2. Marin Veterinarian
    March 27, 2014 | 6:09 pm

    My dog always ha reverse sneezing fits. I never knew what it was! Now, I cover her nose and open her mouth so she can breathe through her mouth and she is fine.

    March 7, 2014 | 1:14 pm

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  4. CHOO-Ahh! Reverse Sneezing in Dogs
    January 16, 2014 | 12:32 pm

    […] (via Reverse Sneezing in Dogs | The Dogington Post.) […]

  5. Kim
    January 16, 2014 | 4:38 am

    Our Cavaliers do this when they are excited or pulling on a show lead . It is common for them to do and nothing to worry about. Covering the nostrils gently for a few seconds helps. No medication needed

  6. shrinknurse
    January 15, 2014 | 6:17 am

    This sounds like the genetic ‘tracheal collapse’ in most Poms. My Pom does it a lot. Is it the same thing?

  7. Cheryl Reese
    January 14, 2014 | 1:27 pm

    My Yorkie does this a lot and it’s always scary. I have been messaging his throat when it happens, but it sometimes seems like that doesn’t help very fast. I’m gonna try pinching his nostrils next time he does it. Good information, thanks for the tip.

  8. alma null
    January 14, 2014 | 10:22 am

    the first time this happened to my dog i almost freaked out. a simple antihistemene was all it took thanks for the great article !

  9. Linda
    January 14, 2014 | 9:23 am

    The most important thing is to remain calm. I also found that rubbing the throat also helps. I first helped my mom’s dog (Pekingese) many years ago. It can be quite upsetting to have our pets do something like this and not know what it is or what to do. Great article.

  10. donna nielsen
    January 14, 2014 | 9:20 am

    Great info! Thanks!

  11. Mary Los
    January 14, 2014 | 9:14 am

    WHY?? I never remember dogs doing this. And I’ve had dogs all my life. Why, is this an issue now? Scares the beJesus out of me. From big Pits to teacup chis…. what’s going on?

    • Milissa
      January 14, 2014 | 10:23 am

      Mary, this isn’t new at all, and not all dogs suffer from it. In all the dogs I’ve owned over my 55 years, I’ve only had one that did it with any regularity, and maybe three that did it at all. It is entirely possible that you could live a lifetime and not have a dog that suffers from it. It really isn’t something to worry about unless your dog is severely affected!

  12. Mary Los
    January 14, 2014 | 9:10 am

    This is so messed up! It is only in the last few years I heard, let alone experienced this in my dogs. WHY? I hate when my dogs do this! although, lifting their front paws, and massaging their chests seems to stop it, it freaks me out!

  13. Melissa
    December 13, 2013 | 10:50 pm

    Hi, this happens to my toy poodle everytime she gets very excited. I have also read about trachael collpase. What’s the difference with these two conditions? Thanks

  14. Kristi
    September 9, 2013 | 5:23 pm

    My yorkie does this a lot. Usually triggered by excitement. I always hold my hand over her nose and she stops. I never knew there was an actual name for this! Thanks for the info!

  15. EJ
    August 27, 2013 | 8:49 am

    My yorkshire terrier has done it since puppyhood. The vet told me to gently hold his snout, covering his nostrils. It helps the episode end quickly.

    It did scare us both, at first.

  16. Liz
    August 26, 2013 | 5:20 pm

    I was afraid my little one was having asthma attacks until someone told me it was a reverse sneeze.

  17. Betty Honey
    August 26, 2013 | 5:08 pm

    I have a Pom who has had this all his life. He sounds like a honking goose. I feel so bad for him. He is on meds to help with is airway, but it scares me everytime he does it. He looks so pityful with his mouth pulled back. I rub his throat too and it helps. He take Theophylline once a day but his makes him very agggressive. he was on twice a day, but they lowered his dosage because of the aggression. Not aggressive with me, but the other dogs I have. He has a murmer too which scares me. it is very upsetting when your dog has this and really scares you when you hear it the first few times. Drinking water too fast makes him do it too.

  18. Terry Strand
    August 26, 2013 | 4:01 pm

    this one one of the first symptoms I noticed my young dog had before she was diagnosed with Cryptoccocis Gatti.

  19. George Chase
    August 26, 2013 | 3:25 pm

    I usually massage the throat as my pug is not big on anyone messing with his nose, as little as it is.

  20. Jen
    August 26, 2013 | 1:01 pm

    Thanks a lot. My 3lb MorkyPoo (Maltese, Yorkey Poodle) reverse sneezes all the time. I was covering her nose when it happened but my husband thought I was smothering her. Guess momma knows best after all.
    But really, I appreciate all the tips and info this site has to offer. Keep up the good work :)!

  21. Sylvia
    August 26, 2013 | 12:57 pm

    My Chi does something like this and is sounds like a reverse snore. She is fine when it stops. She looks so unhappy when that happens. If I am close by I just pet her lightly until she stops.
    Her name is Maggie and so I think I will try this Maggie’s solution.

  22. Maggie
    April 28, 2013 | 5:12 pm

    My dog suffers from this quite often, grandson said to hold my hand lightly over her nose, forcing to breathe thru mouth & it works, episode over quickly

  23. Beverly
    April 25, 2013 | 6:48 pm

    Our 3 year old greyhound does this, sometimes waking himself up from a sound sleep! It was very disturbing to us until we talked to our vet about it. If I stroke his throat gently, he’ll usually stop.

  24. Jill
    April 25, 2013 | 12:13 pm

    My vet suggested that I use liquid Benadryl for babies if my Olde Boston Bulldogge does this “more often thatn usual”. I’ve found that this treatment works very well and I only give him about 3 ml at a time.

    • Jane
      January 17, 2014 | 1:19 am

      If you give your dog ANY liquid medications be sure to check the other ingredients carefully. Some liquid medications for humans contain xylitol, which is toxic to dogs.

  25. Susan Bernaix
    April 25, 2013 | 12:10 pm

    The part about the dog, “does not lose consciousness”, is incorrect in some dogs case. My mini Doxie, if it is a long bout of reverse sneezing, ends up without getting enough oxygen that she stiffens up and then keels over. This is because she doesn’t get enough oxygen to her brain and this is how a body reacts to that. Humans too.

    • Susan
      August 26, 2013 | 1:40 pm

      Cover her snout for 2 secs and it will make it stop…trust me mine did it her whole life.

  26. Melissa
    April 25, 2013 | 11:43 am

    That’s a great lil tidbit of knowledge. I always wondered what the heck was wrong when my Pittie does this. :) Thanks!

  27. Anne Marie
    February 18, 2013 | 5:38 am

    Thank you for explaining this!
    I never knew what it was and it worried me, especially with my previous dog who had it regularly.

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