What Is Reverse Sneeze In A Dog? Learn How To Identify And Treat This Common Condition

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As a dog owner, it is natural to worry when your furry friend makes an unusual sound or exhibit strange behavior. One of the common health concerns that affect dogs is reverse sneezing.

This condition can be alarming and may cause pet owners a great deal of concern and worrying. However, by gaining knowledge about reverse sneezing in dogs, you can learn how to identify it, what causes it, and how to treat it effectively to make things less stressful for both you and your four-legged companion.

“Happiness is a warm puppy.” -Charles M. Schulz

In this article, we will discuss all that you need to know about reverse sneezing in dogs. We will look at the symptoms and signs, what triggers the condition, and practical ways to manage this unsettling experience. You’ll also discover useful tips on how to prevent future episodes from occurring and keep your pooch healthy and happy.

Whether you are a first-time dog owner or someone who has had a canine best friend for years, having information on common canine conditions such as reverse sneezing will always come in handy. With that said, let’s dive into the world of reverse sneezing and help you understand everything there is to know about this rather peculiar yet easily manageable condition.

Understanding Reverse Sneeze in Dogs

What is Reverse Sneeze in Dogs?

Reverse sneezing is a common condition in dogs where they experience sudden, rapid and repeated inhalation of air through the nose. The process can look similar to a dog gasping or choking and often ends with a peculiar snorting sound that’s caused by a spasm of muscles in their throat.

The medical term for reverse sneeze in dogs is Pharyngeal Gag Reflex or Inspiratory Paroxysmal Respiration which means a fit of breathlessness. It may seem unpleasant but it usually doesn’t cause any harm to your furry friend.

How Common is Reverse Sneeze in Dogs?

Reverse sneeze occurs commonly in dogs, especially in smaller breeds due to their genetics and anatomy. However, it can occur in any breed of dog regardless of their age or size. Puppies and senior dogs are more vulnerable because they have underdeveloped anatomical structures such as soft palates or weak immune systems respectively.

In addition, some environmental factors such as pollen, smoke, and perfumes may trigger reverse sneezing episodes too.

What Breeds of Dogs are Prone to Reverse Sneeze?

While all dogs can experience reverse sneeze at some point, certain breeds are predisposed to this condition. Brachycephalic dogs like pugs, Shih Tzus, bulldogs, boxers, Boston terriers and other flat-faced breeds are more prone to developing a reverse sneezing problem.

In these breeds, the shorter snouts make it harder for them to inhale properly, thus increasing the likelihood of spasms in the back of their throats.

“Brachycephalic breeds, because of their abnormal upper airway anatomy, are predisposed to chronic respiratory disease. Reverse sneezing is a common clinical sign, but typically not as severe or concerning as other signs like difficulty breathing and exercise intolerance.” -Vetstreet

If you suspect your dog is suffering from reverse sneeze, it’s recommended to stay calm and refrain from panicking. You can help your furry friend by gently rubbing their throat area to reduce the spasm and make them feel better.

If you notice any unusual behavior accompanying reverse sneeze episodes such as coughing, wheezing, vomiting etc., seek advice from your vet immediately. They can diagnose the underlying cause of these symptoms and suggest appropriate treatment plans for your pet.

Understanding reverse sneeze in dogs can go a long way in keeping your furry friend healthy and happy.

Causes Of Reverse Sneeze In Dogs

If you have ever witnessed your dog making a strange honking, snorting, or wheezing sound that seems like they are struggling to breathe in, you may be wondering what is happening. This condition is known as reverse sneeze and it can be quite frightening for pet owners who don’t know what’s going on. Reverse sneezing is more common in certain breeds of dogs such as Pugs, Bulldogs, Shih Tzus, and Miniature Schnauzers, but it can affect any breed. Below are some of the causes of this occurrence in dogs.


Like humans, dogs can also develop allergies due to various reasons such as airborne particles, pollen, dust, mold, food, etc. When these allergens irritate their nasal passages, dogs tend to reverse sneeze to get rid of them. Allergic reactions may cause inflammation in the nose which leads to excessive mucus production and sneezing. If you suspect that your dog has allergies, consult with your veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Nasal Irritation

Dogs use their noses to explore everything around them; however, sometimes foreign objects or irritants like smoke, perfume, or chemicals can enter their nasal passages causing discomfort. Just like when we need to clear our throat, dogs exhibit reverse sneezing as an attempt to remove the irritation. Nasal discharge and other respiratory symptoms accompany this type of sneeze so make sure your dog is observed by a vet immediately if it occurs frequently.

Excitement or Anxiety

A sudden change in environment or intense excitement may trigger reverse sneezes in dogs. The effect usually lasts for less than one minute and once the dog calms down, the sneezing disappears. However, some dogs are more prone to anxiety than others such as rescue dogs or those rescued from shelters and may need treatment if episodes of reverse sneeze persist.

Anatomical Abnormalities

In some cases, anatomical abnormalities can cause reverse sneezing in dogs. Common abnormality examples include soft palate elongation, collapsing tracheas, foreign bodies lodged within nasal passages, and dental issues; all which may inhibit normal breathing in dogs.

“Reverse sneezing is not harmful unless it becomes a persistent issue that risks causing other health concerns,” -Dr. Alison Diesel, DVM at Bayside Animal Clinic.
  • To prevent reverse sneezing bouts in dogs:
  • Maintain good air quality indoors by cleaning regularly.
  • Avoid exposing dogs to irritants like perfume, cigarette smoke or chemicals.
  • Avoid using collars on dogs for extended durations or tighten them too much during walks because they put extra pressure on their throats.
  • If you identify any signs of an allergic reaction, consult with your vet instantly.

Knowing what causes reverse sneeze in dogs will help pet owners take preventative measures against this frightening occurrence. Always monitor your furry friend for odd behaviors and noises while seeking help from your veterinarian whenever you notice something unusual.

Symptoms Of Reverse Sneeze In Dogs

Gagging or Honking Sound

One of the most common symptoms of reverse sneeze in dogs is a honking or gagging sound. This sound occurs when the dog tries to inhale forcefully through its nose, causing the soft palate to vibrate. The noise may be loud and alarming to pet owners but typically does not last long and usually resolves on its own.

Dogs with brachycephalic breeds, such as bulldogs, pugs, and shih tzus, are more prone to reverse sneezing due to their shortened nasal passages. However, this condition can also happen to any other breed of dogs, especially those with allergies or respiratory problems.

Involuntary Rapid Inhalation

Another symptom of reverse sneeze in dogs is an involuntary rapid inhalation that makes the dog appear as if they are gasping for air. During these episodes, the dog’s chest will expand rapidly as they try to take in as much air as possible. These episodes can last from several seconds up to a minute and can occur frequently throughout the day or only once in a while.

The episodes of rapid inhalation associated with reverse sneezing can cause anxiety for both the pet and the owner. In severe cases, the pet might become agitated, restless, or disoriented. But in general, it’s important not to panic because your dog will start breathing normally afterward.

If you notice that your dog is experiencing frequent episodes of reverse sneezing, it’s advisable to talk to your veterinarian. They might conduct a physical examination to rule out any underlying health issues or trigger factors that can lead to the condition.

“Reverse sneezing isn’t harmful to dogs and is usually nothing to worry about. If your dog does reverse sneezing frequently, see your veterinarian to rule out underlying medical issues or any environmental factors.”

-Dr. Mary Rose Paradis, a board-certified veterinary specialist in sports medicine and rehabilitation.

Other Signs and Symptoms

In addition to gagging noises and rapid inhalation, there are other signs that your pet may be experiencing reverse sneeze. These include:

  • Squinty Eyes
  • Licking their Nose Frequently
  • Overall Stiffness or Discomfort
  • Sneezing or Coughing
  • Runny Nos
  • Nasal Discharge

These symptoms can also indicate some respiratory problems such as allergies, upper respiratory infections, tracheal collapse, and more. Therefore, it’s crucial to consult with your vet if you notice any of these signs of discomfort in your pooch.

“It could also be something like an irritant to the nasal passages (like pollens or airborne particles) causing her to have a temporary blockade resulting in the difficulty breathing.”

-Dr. Gary Richter, integrative veterinarian and founder of Ultimate Pet Nutrition

If you witness any unusual sounds or behaviors from your pup while breathing, it’s important to understand what those symptoms might mean. Dogs cannot describe their health concerns to us through words, so we must pay attention to their precious little body language and become familiar with the possible causes and treatments associated with their behavior.

When To See A Veterinarian For Reverse Sneeze In Dogs

A reverse sneeze in dogs is a common occurrence and usually not a cause for alarm. However, there are situations where you should seek veterinary care if your dog experiences this condition frequently or has other symptoms that may indicate an underlying health issue.

If the Reverse Sneezing Becomes Frequent

While occasional episodes of reverse sneezing are normal, frequent bouts can be a sign of various health problems. Some of these conditions include allergies, nasal irritation from inhaling foreign objects like grass seeds or dust particles, infections, nasal polyps, tumors, or structural abnormalities of the respiratory tract. If your dog starts to experience more than one episode of reverse sneezing in a day, contact your veterinarian immediately.

The vet will examine your dog thoroughly to diagnose the reason behind the increased frequency of reverse sneezing. They may conduct further tests, such as X-rays, CT scans, nasal endoscopy, or nasal biopsies, depending on the suspected cause of the reverse sneezing. Timely diagnosis and treatment can help manage any underlying disease, minimize discomfort, and prevent complications associated with left untreated medical conditions.

If Other Symptoms are Present

If your dog exhibits additional symptoms besides reverse sneezing, take them to the veterinarian promptly. These symptoms could include lethargy, loss of appetite, coughing, gagging, wheezing, nasal discharge, fever, and difficulty breathing. The presence of these signs suggests that something else is amiss, and it’s imperative to investigate what underlying condition is causing it. Ignoring the problem could lead to a worsening of their clinical outcome and a longer recovery time.

Your vet will do a thorough physical exam on your dog before conducting additional tests to identify the cause of these symptoms. Based on their diagnostic findings, they will develop an appropriate treatment plan that addresses your dog’s underlying condition, thereby reducing recovery time and minimizing discomfort.

“Reverse sneezing is usually not a problem by itself – it’s just a sign that there are some irritants in your dog’s nose or throat that are causing a reflexive action,” says Dr. Jennifer Coates

Reverse sneezing in dogs can be unsettling to watch but often harmless. Nevertheless, you should always monitor the number of times your dog experiences the condition and any other signs that accompany it. If you observe frequent episodes or other concerning symptoms, seek veterinary attention promptly so that underlying health issues can be identified early enough before any permanent damage happens. In most cases, with proper care, your furry friend should recover fully and continue being happy and healthy for years to come.

Treatment Options For Reverse Sneeze In Dogs


Reverse sneezing in dogs can be caused by allergies, among other things. Therefore, antihistamines could potentially help ease symptoms of reverse sneeze if an allergic reaction is the underlying cause.

Dogs have a different metabolism compared to humans, and as such, not all human medications are safe for them to take, including antihistamines. It’s important to consult with your veterinarian before administering any medication, as they will be able to suggest which type and dose of antihistamine would be most appropriate for your dog’s specific condition.

“It’s very common that people try to give their pets human medication when they get sick, but some of these drugs—like acetaminophen (found in Tylenol), ibuprofen (found in Advil and Motrin), and aspirin—are incredibly toxic to our furry friends,” – Dr. Ann Hohenhaus, Veterinarian at the Animal Medical Center in New York City

Nasal Drops or Sprays

If your pet has been diagnosed with something like nasal mites or inflammation inside their nostrils, then using nasal drops or sprays may assist in reaching the source of irritation and provide relief. Nasal decongestants can also sometimes be used to alleviate congestion within the nasal passage and help stop the sensation of obstruction contributing to reverse sneezes.

Your vet might recommend using specially formulated canine nasal sprays instead of over-the-counter human ones; this ensures that your dog doesn’t experience harmful side effects from incorrect dosage or inappropriate ingredients.

“If left untreated, nasal mites can cause chronic sinusitis, rhinitis, turbinate destruction, hematoma formation, and even affect a variety of other organs. Typically nasal mite infections present with chronic sneezing or reverse sneezing,” – Dr. Joseph Orsini, DVM

Surgical Intervention

Surgery seldom works to treat reverse sneeze alone; however, in some circumstances, if the vet discovers polyps, growths, or another condition that does not react well to any medicine on its own, then surgical intervention might be necessary.

If the veterinarian suggests surgery as an option for fixing reverse sneeze in your dog, make sure you fully understand what the procedure involves and have both time and resources available for any post-surgery care required.

“Surgery is generally recommended when medical treatment options are no longer successful at managing your pet’s breathing difficulty,” – Dr. Colleen O’Morrow, Veterinary Director at Pet Health Network

Reverse sneezing may sound alarming but it can often simply be managed as long as the cause has been properly diagnosed by your veterinarian. Remember: the critical first step towards proper diagnosis and treatment leading to alleviation of this respiratory issue lies with determining the underlying reason behind the occurrence of reverse sneezes.

Preventing Reverse Sneeze in Dogs

If you’re a dog owner, then you’ve probably witnessed your furry friend make strange noises and movements that may worry you. One of these peculiar movements is reverse sneezing, also known as pharyngeal gag reflex or inspiratory paroxysmal respiration. It’s a common condition among dogs; however, there are steps you can take to prevent it from happening.

Keep Your Home Clean

Keeping your home clean is an essential step in preventing reverse sneeze in dogs. Dust particles, dust mites, and allergens can cause irritations in your dog’s respiratory system, leading to reverse sneezing episodes. Ensure you keep all surfaces, including floors, carpets, bedsheets, and furniture, regularly cleaned and vacuumed to eliminate dirt that causes allergies. You might consider using air purifiers with HEPA filters which removes airborne pollutants such as pet dander and smoke.

Avoid Irritating Substances

Dogs are curious creatures who love exploring their surroundings, but some things around them can trigger reverse sneezing episodes. Avoid the use of perfumes, air fresheners, cigarettes, pollen, or any irritants like paint fumes or cleaning products where possible. If you must use them, ensure good ventilation, avoid exposing your dog directly to them, and store them out of reach. Even secondhand smoke can be dangerous for your pets, so make sure you don’t smoke near them, especially indoors.

Reduce Exposure to Allergens

Allergies from food, environmental factors, including molds, pollens, grasses, trees, dust, fleas, and ticks, contribute significantly to reverse sneezing cases in dogs. Consider controlling your dog’s exposure to such allergens or reducing their impact. Regular grooming, bathing and using hypoallergenic pet products can help reduce skin allergies. Monitor your dog for signs of allergy symptoms, including sneezing, coughing, itching, and discharge from the eyes and nose.

Train Your Dog to be Calm

Dog anxiety and nervousness are some of the main causes of reverse sneezing. When your furry friend gets excited or anxious, the muscles in their throat constrict, causing them to inhale sharply, leading to reverse sneezing episodes. Teach your pup how to relax through obedience training techniques like sit, stay, and leash walking exercises. Provide ample exercise opportunities to alleviate anxiety levels and enable playtime activities to keep them socially engaged with humans and other pets better.

“Reverse sneezing is common in small breeds of dogs and brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds. It may happen when the dog’s soft palate becomes irritated by postnasal drip, nasal inflammation, foreign bodies or any abnormality involving the respiratory tract.” – PetMD

Preventing reverse sneeze in dogs requires a multi-pronged approach that includes maintaining clean environments free from irritating substances, reducing exposure to allergens, and teaching your furry friend good manners to calm down during stressful situations. Understanding your dog’s triggers, body language, and navigating stressors together will go a long way in keeping them healthy and happy.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the symptoms of reverse sneezing in dogs?

Reverse sneezing in dogs is characterized by a honking or snorting sound that is caused by the dog inhaling rapidly. Other symptoms may include an extended neck, bulging eyes, and a stiff body. Episodes of reverse sneezing typically last for a few seconds to a minute and are not harmful to the dog.

What causes reverse sneezing in dogs?

Reverse sneezing in dogs is caused by irritation or inflammation of the nasal passages, pharynx, or larynx. Common triggers include allergies, respiratory infections, irritants, excitement, and drinking or eating too quickly. Certain dog breeds, such as brachycephalic breeds, are also more prone to reverse sneezing due to their anatomy.

Can reverse sneezing in dogs be harmful?

Reverse sneezing in dogs is generally not harmful and does not require treatment. However, if your dog has frequent or prolonged episodes of reverse sneezing, it may be a sign of an underlying condition that requires medical attention. In rare cases, reverse sneezing can cause a dog to faint or experience respiratory distress.

How can reverse sneezing in dogs be treated?

If your dog has infrequent episodes of reverse sneezing, no treatment is necessary. However, if your dog has frequent or prolonged episodes, your veterinarian may recommend medications to reduce inflammation or treat an underlying condition. Home remedies such as massaging the throat or covering the nostrils may also provide relief.

Is there any way to prevent reverse sneezing in dogs?

While there is no guaranteed way to prevent reverse sneezing in dogs, there are steps you can take to reduce the frequency and severity of episodes. These include managing your dog’s allergies, avoiding irritants, feeding your dog smaller meals more frequently, and slowing down their eating and drinking. Regular veterinary check-ups can also help identify and treat underlying conditions that may contribute to reverse sneezing.

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