Reverse Sneezing in Dogs, Is it Dangerous?

What is Reverse Sneezing in Dogs?

When a dog starts reverse sneezing he will stand still and take deep inhalations of air whilst making a loud snorting sound. The dog may then gag several times. It lasts for 10 -15 seconds.

It’s difficult to explain so hopefully this video from PetMD shows it better.

The first time my Chihuahua/Shih Tzu reverse sneezed I thought she was dying and my first instinct was to rush to the vets. However, it stopped as quickly as it started and Holly was completely fine again. It took some research for me to find out what reverse sneezing is and surprisingly it’s 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.

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)

Scientific Names

Inspiratory paroxysmal respiration, mechanosensitive aspiration reflex, and pharyngeal gag reflex are scientific terms for reverse sneezing.

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2 thoughts on “Reverse Sneezing in Dogs, Is it Dangerous?

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  1. I have seen this often in shelter dogs who are just getting out for a walk. I think it happens because they are so excited to finally get out of their cage. Great post!

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