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Why Is My Dog Gasping & Honking? It Could Be a Reverse Sneeze!


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

sneezeReverse 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.


Possible Treatments

· Antihistamines. If allergies have been discovered to be the main cause of the problem, antihistamine medications can be administered. Your vet may prescribe drugs if mites are found in the dog’s laryngeal area.

· Massage. Another way to treat reverse sneezing is through massage. To help stop the spams, just rub Fido’s throat gently.

· Others. You can also try to cover your pooch’s nostrils to help him swallow; clearing out whatever trigger is setting off the episode. In addition, if the occurrence doesn’t windup quickly, try depressing Fido’s tongue to open his mouth and help air to move through his nasal passages.

If episodes of reverse sneezing become more frequent or severe, or are accompanied by other symptoms, it’s important to have your vet examine your dog’s throat and nasal passages. Whenever possible, try to record a video of your dog during a reverse sneezing episode to show to your veterinarian. This will help him/her determine if the event is truly a “reverse sneeze” or if it is something that needs attention.

The video below shows what a dog’s reverse sneezing episode looks like and how to quickly stop it by covering your dog’s nostrils.

While reverse sneezing is harmless in and of itself, it will probably be scary for your dog. Comfort and soothe him during the event and remain calm, knowing that it will soon be over.




  1. Jack

    Jan 15, 2017 at 10:53 am

    I have Boxer, he is only 21/2 years of age, the past few days he has had these R/S.EPISODES,that have really scared me, he has them before but only 4 a minute or better, then he’s over,for 3 days he’s having them 3 times a day, and he has allergies I give him prescribed med called Abequel spelling may be off? I think he’s got an minor sinus infection, I’m on a fixed income, since I’ve injury job related, but I this month I have not been able to purchase his meds, until my med leave, so he’s been without his allergy mrd,plus I’ve noticed him shaking his head scratching ears, sounds like mites, all this I feel has got him very weak frm lack of sleep, plus he’s not eating as well, or drinking water which I’ve encouraged him so he has now, but I’ve used straight benedryl, aka otc Allergy meds to try and dry up his nasal drip, and it’s helped very little. Today I’m taking him to BANFIELD VET. THE GIVE A FREE EXAMINE AND CONSULTATION, I’VE NEVER BEEN IN A SITUATION WHERE MONEY WAS THIS TIGHT, his regular Verizon spoke to me by phone, because I’ve spent nearly a thousand Dollars with this office in Mobile, Al, called REHM ANIMAL CLINIC, HE’S G I T AN ENLARGED HEART, THE EKG, AND NO ANSWER THEY TOLD ME TO WAIT 6 MONTHS TO ONE YEAR BEFORE FINAL TEST, HE HAS THESE COUGHS AND HACKING, NOTHING RELATED TO R/S, SO YOU WOULD THINK THAT A ONGOING TESTING OF YOUR DOG,AND THE MONEY THEY RECIEVE FROM ME FOR MEDS, ETC, THEY HAVE MISSED DIAGNOSED HIM WITH CARDO-MIOPOTHY,WHICH HIS A DEATH SENTENCED CAME BACK 3 DAYS LATER AND SAID HE DIDN’T HAVE THIS, DID NOT EVEN REFUNDED ME ON ABOUT 3 BOTTLES OF STEROIDS,AND OTHER PILLS, THAT NO LONGER WERE NEEDED ONLY 3 DAYS HE TOOK THEM. ANYHOW THEY COULD HAVE TOLD ME BRING HIM IN AN THE NEW Dr. Said he sounds as if he’s got an infection with sinuses.
    So we will see, I can say if you have Pug dog, or bulldog boxer, etc like Max my Boxer, beware by cross-breeding dogs can be an outward beautiful dog and even their perspnslity, but they suffer as with Boxers,Great-Danes Cockerspanuels srry if any words are mis-spelled

  2. Stephanie Garbowski

    Nov 9, 2016 at 5:55 pm

    When this happens to my dog I put a little peanut butter on my finger and have her lick it off. The swallowing motion stops her from backward sneezing. This WORKS EVERYTIME. It can be a really scary thing to watch your dog go through, I’m glad I found a trick that works. If your dog has trouble with this, try it out and I hope it helps!

  3. Avis

    Jun 2, 2016 at 1:40 pm

    I also have a Yorkie/Terrier that does this when excited or drinking too fast. This information was very helpful. Thank you.

  4. Pingback: Oh no! I’m reverse sneezing. – Traceys Blog

  5. Laura

    Mar 18, 2016 at 8:25 pm

    Thank you! I’ve had two yorkie a and both have done this. Always scared me to death, now I know how to help!

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