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Reverse Sneeze in Dogs

Your dog suddenly stops, extends its neck, and produces a loud snorting sound. There is a good chance that you have just witnessed a reverse sneeze, and while it may be somewhat alarming it is common in small dogs. Below, our Springfield vets explain paroxysmal respiration.

What is a reverse sneeze in dogs?

Paroxysmal respiration, also known as reverse sneezing, is a condition in which the dog rapidly pulls air in through the nose, producing a loud snorting sound. In fact, it sounds like your dog is trying to take a deep breath while also sneezing.

When a dog reverse sneezes they typically raise its head, extends its neck, and begins making a loud snorting noise. Most reverse sneezing episodes last for less than a minute but can be frightening for pet parents, and alarming for the pet.

What causes reverse sneezing in dogs?

Reverse sneezing is thought to be caused by inflammation or irritation of the nasal, pharyngeal, or sinus passages, and it could be the dog's attempt to remove the irritant that is causing the problem. Dust, nasal mites, seeds, grass, pollen, and smoke, as well as conditions such as masses or an elongated soft palate, are thought to trigger the reverse sneezing reflex in dogs.

In some cases, dogs may also begin to reverse sneeze when over-excited.

Is reverse sneezing harmful to dogs?

The reverse sneeze is nothing to be concerned about in most dogs. Sneezing usually lasts less than a minute, and dogs resume their normal activities. There are no health consequences, and your dog will probably shake it off as if nothing happened.

There are some signs, though, that may point to an underlying health problem. If your dog has suddenly developed reverse sneezing, it’s always a good idea to have them examined by your veterinarian, just to determine the right diagnosis.

Some symptoms that can point to other conditions like asthma, heart disease, and tracheal collapse include:

  • Labored breathing
  • Ongoing, consistent cough
  • Frequent wheezing
  • Panting without exercise
  • Open-mouthed breathing
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of interest in exercise
  • Pale or blue gums

All of the above symptoms deserve further investigation, if your dog is displaying one or more of these symptoms contact your vet right away to book an examination for your dog.

How can I help my dog through a reverse sneezing episode?

Once your dog has been examined and given a clean bill of health from your vet, there are a few things you can do to help ease your pet through these scary episodes. 

  • Stay calm and upbeat, to help your dog’s anxiety and stress.
  • Address any anxiety or fear your pet may be facing and keep them focused on enrichment toys and activities as a way to avoid anxiety or overexcitement.
  • Massage your pet’s throat to get them to swallow. This can sometimes help to stop the episode.
  • Gently lift their head up and then down.
  • Distract your pet with a toy, treat, or dinner.

We know that this condition can seem out of the ordinary, but for most otherwise healthy dogs it looks and sounds scarier than it actually is. 

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If you have any additional questions about reverse sneezing, or to schedule an appointment for your dog contact Greenbrier-Springfield Animal Hospital. Our vets take pride in improving the health of Springfield pets.

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