Reverse Sneezing in Dogs
What is it?
Have you noticed your dog suddenly start to make bizarre snorting noises and appear unable to breathe?
He will stand still, extend his head and neck, pull back his lips and make loud, deep and forceful inhalations through the nose.
The dog may then gag a few times but then return to normal.
It is extremely alarming, especially when it happens for the first time.
This strange behaviour is known as reverse sneezing or backward sneezing and is usually harmless, so don’t worry!
The behaviour is difficult to explain, unless you have seen it for yourself. So take a look at this short video from PetMD which shows a dog reverse sneezing:
My Personal Experience Of Reverse Sneezing.
The first time my Chihuahua/Shih Tzu reverse sneezed I thought she was dying and my first instinct was to rush to the vets. It was actually much more severe than the example in the video, it looked more like a type of seizure. However, it stopped as quickly as it started and Holly recovered quickly and looked like she was wondering what the fuss was about.
When I researched this strange behavior I was surprised to see that it is very common.
Now when Holly does it, (she’s been doing this for twelve years now) I speak to her calmly because I’m sure it isn’t a nice experience for her.
In Holly’s case, it is always started when she gets over-excited.
So, this could be when we get her lead out or when someone she loves comes to visit.
Now that she is a senior dog the reverse sneezing happens less often. She has never needed vet intervention for it and is a happy, healthy dog.
Which Breeds are Most Affected by Reverse Sneezing
The breeds which suffer most from reverse sneezing are small dogs, terriers and brachycephalic breeds (ones with a short snout eg bulldogs).
What Causes Reverse Sneezing?
Sometimes it could be due to overexcitement or an irritant in the nasal passages. It may be a way for dogs to remove allergens or dust particles from the nose.
Less often it could be due to a bacterial infection or dental disease.
If it happens regularly the vet may want to prescribe antihistamines or allergy testing.
How Can You Help?
Reassure the dog and if it continues gently cover the nostrils (I’ve never had to do this).
Try to narrow the episodes down to certain allergens ie cleaning products or scented candles, then try to avoid these whenever you can.
Keep up to date with dental checks. (More information about dogs dental health can be found here)
Inspiratory paroxysmal respiration, mechanosensitive aspiration reflex, and pharyngeal gag reflex are scientific terms for reverse sneezing.