dog reverse sneeze

Understanding A Dog Reverse Sneeze: Causes, Symptoms, And Treatment Options

Seeing your dog suddenly start snorting and wheezing can be scary. A dog reverse sneeze, though alarming, is common among dogs. We’ll guide you through understanding the causes, recognizing symptoms, and exploring treatment options for this quirky condition.

Ready to learn?

Key Takeaways

  • Reverse sneezing in dogs happens when the dog pulls air quickly into the nose when the throat and soft palate get irritated. It looks scary but is usually not harmful.

  • Dogs might start reverse sneezing because of dust, strong smells, or allergens which tickle their throat or nasal passages.

  • If your dog shows signs like loud snorting or stretching their neck frequently, a vet check-up is a good idea to find out why it’s happening.

  • Simple home actions like raising your pup’s head during an episode can help. For more serious cases, vets may suggest medicines or changes at home to avoid triggers.

  • Keeping your pooch away from things that cause irritation can lower the chances of reverse sneezing episodes.

What is a Dog Reverse Sneeze?

dog reverse sneeze

A reverse sneeze in dogs might sound alarming, but it’s a common occurrence. Dogs of any age, breed, and gender can experience this reflex. It’s often mistaken for choking or having trouble breathing.

Picture your dog suddenly standing still, neck stretched out, making loud snorting sounds. That’s reverse sneezing—also known as paroxysmal respiration or backward sneeze. Unlike the usual sneeze that expels air out the nose, this quirky event pulls air quickly into the nose.

It happens when something irritates the soft palate and throat (the nasopharynx), setting off a bout of snorts.

Reverse sneezes are pretty much like super intense hiccups for dogs, set off by anything that tickles their nose—think allergies or strong smells. They’re not a big health scare, but you’ll see them a lot in small dogs, pups under 15 kg or those squish-faced breeds.

Even though it sounds like a big deal, these episodes are no drama and usually wrap up on their own in a few seconds to minutes. Getting the lowdown on this reflex keeps dog owners chill when it seems like their furry buddy is having a tough time breathing, but really, it’s just a weird but totally normal doggy thing.

Symptoms of Reverse Sneezing

dog reverse sneeze

When your dog hits you with a reverse sneeze, it’s a bit of a surprise party. Out of nowhere, they’ll start snorting up a storm and stretching their neck like they’re trying to snag some extra air.

Raising the head

Raising the head of your dog during a reverse sneezing episode can make a big difference. This simple action helps to open their airway, making it easier for them to get air through their windpipe.

Lots of dog owners swear by this trick to tone down the symptoms and make them not last as long.

Another helpful tip involves gently massaging your dog’s throat. This can soothe any irritation in the dog’s mouth, nasal passage and oropharynx, contributing to easing their discomfort. Plus, calmly holding them and providing reassurance during these moments can be comforting for both you and your pet.

Now, let’s talk about another symptom – loud snorting noises.

Loud snorting noise

dog reverse sneeze

After noticing your dog raising its head, you might hear a loud snorting noise. This snorting sound is typical of reverse sneezing and often gets mixed up with signs of respiratory distress.

Dust, pollen, or even excitement can trigger this noisy event. Your pet isn’t in pain – it’s just their body’s way of clearing an irritation in the throat or nose.

The snorts come fast and seem scary, but they’re usually harmless. Think of them as your dog hitting the reset button on their breathing! In cases where the noise keeps up or comes with other worrying signs like labored breathing or ongoing coughs, a vet visit is smart.

They might check for allergies, nasal mites, or other causes behind that distinctive snort.

Extended neck

dog reverse sneeze

An extended neck is a common sign of reverse sneezing in dogs. Your pet stretches its neck, trying to clear the nasal passages. This movement can look alarming but it’s often just their way of getting relief.

It’s part of the respiratory reflex that kicks in when irritants affect the throat or sinuses.

Dogs do this to ease discomfort caused by mucus or foreign bodies stuck in their throat or upper respiratory tract. Watching your dog go through this might make you worry, but understanding it’s a natural response helps.

Now, let’s dive into why reverse sneezing happens and what triggers it.

Causes of Reverse Sneezing

dog reverse sneeze

Dust, perfumes, and even excitement can tickle your dog’s throat, leading to those quirky reverse sneezes—read more to uncover the full story behind these triggers.

Nasopharyngeal irritation

Nasopharyngeal irritation in dogs is a fancy term for when the back of your dog’s nose and throat gets annoyed or inflamed. Think of it like this – allergens, dust, and even tiny bits of foreign body material can sneak into their respiratory tract.

This intrusion leads to reverse sneezing. It might sound serious, but most times, it’s not a big deal. Your furry friend just needs some time, and they’ll be back to normal.

Seeing your dog snort or gag forcefully can be scary. They’re trying to clear whatever’s bothering their nasopharynx. In more severe cases though, veterinarians may need to step in with a sedated oral exam or imaging like x-rays and rhinoscopy.

These tests help pinpoint exactly what’s causing that irritation so your pooch can get relief.

Exposure to allergens

dog reverse sneeze

Dogs can sniff out almost anything, but with that superpower comes a downside— allergens. Pollen, dust, and mites don’t just cause regular sneezing; they’re also behind reverse sneezing episodes in our canine friends.

These tiny invaders irritate the nose and throat, leading to those awkward, snorty fits. Think of it as your dog’s way of trying to clear the air.

Veterinarians often link exposure to allergens with respiratory distress in dogs. In more severe cases, treatment for allergies may become necessary to ease their discomfort. Keeping your house clean and steering clear of known triggers can be a big help.

Next up is understanding how strong odors play into this equation—and what you can do about it.

Strong odors

dog reverse sneeze

Strong odors like smoke, pollen, and dust can really bother your dog’s nose. These scents might seem okay to us, but they can lead to inflammation or irritation in the the nasal cavity, pharyngeal, or sinus passages of our furry friends.

Imagine feeling a tickle in your throat that you just can’t shake – that’s what it’s like for dogs experiencing reverse sneezing due to these odors.

Exposure to such irritants often triggers a reverse sneezing episode. Think about walking through a cloud of perfume and how that makes you want to sneeze; similarly, dogs react when their respiratory passages get irritated by strong smells.

Keeping our pets away from heavy odors can help reduce these uncomfortable moments.

Diagnosis and Treatment Options for Reverse Sneezing

dog reverse sneeze

Vets often start with a thorough check-up to figure out what’s causing your dog’s reverse sneezing. Depending on what they find, they might suggest simple changes at home or more specific treatments to help your pup breathe easier.

Medical review

dog reverse sneeze

A medical review is a key step in understanding what’s causing your dog to reverse sneeze. Your vet may start with a thorough physical examination, looking for signs of nasopharyngitis or other respiratory symptoms.

They might check the elongated soft palate, nasal discharge, and listen for any abnormal breathing sounds. For dogs showing more severe symptoms, like persistent coughing or vomiting, the vet could suggest advanced diagnostics.

This could include radiography (x-rays) or even a sedated oral exam to spot any foreign objects, masses, or structural issues.

Treatment options will depend heavily on the findings of this medical review. If allergies are at play, your vet might recommend changing your dog’s environment or diet to avoid triggers like dust and pollen.

In cases where an infection is causing trouble, antibiotics could be the way to go. Sometimes, if it’s something stuck in their throat or nasal passages—a grass seed or tiny toy—removal might require minor surgery under sedation.

Remember, with timely veterinary care and an accurate diagnosis from these reviews and tests, most dogs bounce back quickly from episodes of reverse sneezing.

Intervention methods

dog reverse sneeze

Dealing with reverse sneezing in dogs can be puzzling. Lucky for you, there are effective intervention methods to stop reverse sneezing and help your furry friend breathe easier. Here’s a rundown of strategies:

  • Medical Review: First things first, get your dog checked by a vet. They’ll look for signs of inflammatory airway disorders or other medical issues that could be causing the reverse sneezes. This step is crucial because it sets the stage for any specific treatments needed.

  • Oral and Inhaled Corticosteroids: Based on clinical studies, these medications have been shown to work wonders for dogs with reverse sneezing. They can reduce inflammation in the airways, making it easier for your pup to breathe.

  • Antibiotics Combination: Sometimes, corticosteroids aren’t enough on their own. If an infection is part of the problem, your vet might add antibiotics to the mix. This duo can tackle both inflammation and infection head-on.

  • Allergen Avoidance: If seasonal allergies are the culprit, keeping your dog away from known allergens is key. This might mean changing your walking routine during certain times of the year or investing in an air purifier for your home.

  • Diet Change: For dogs whose reverse sneezing stems from gastrointestinal issues, tweaking their diet can help. The goal is to ease any digestive discomfort that might be triggering those sneezy fits.

  • Environmental Control: Strong odors and dust are common triggers for reverse sneezing. Keeping your home clean and free of strong scents can make a big difference in managing this condition.


dog reverse sneeze

Reverse sneezing in dogs might sound scary, but it’s often not a big deal. Knowing the symptoms and causes helps keep your furry friend happy and healthy. If things seem serious, a vet visit can offer peace of mind.

Remember, most pups bounce back quickly with or without treatment. So, stay calm – you’ve got this!


1. What exactly is dog reverse sneezing, and why does it happen?

Dog reverse sneezing — it sounds odd, right? But, here’s the scoop: it’s actually a common respiratory event where your pup forcefully inhales air through the nose, making quite the peculiar sound. Think of it as a quirky hiccup from their chest and lungs due to irritations like sinusitis or even a simple dust bunny adventure gone wrong.

2. Can allergies trigger my dog’s reverse sneezing?

Absolutely! Just like us, dogs can be allergic to all sorts of things — pollen, dust mites, you name it. These allergies can inflame their throat or sinuses leading to that strange but harmless reverse sneeze ballet.

3. Is reverse sneezing in dogs something I should worry about?

Most times, nope! It might look dramatic with all that loud snorting sound and honking — kind of like they’re trying out for an opera — but it’s usually not harmful. However, if these concertos turn into regular performances or are joined by other symptoms… Well, then it might be time for a vet visit.

4. Are certain dog breeds more likely to experience this weird backward sneeze thing?

Yes indeed! Brachycephalic breeds – those adorable pups with squished faces like Pugs or Bulldogs – tend to take center stage when it comes to reverse sneezing thanks to their unique head shape affecting their respiratory system.

5. How do vets figure out what’s causing my dog’s comedy show of snorts and wheezes?

Getting down to the nitty-gritty involves some detective work called clinical diagnosis — think Sherlock Holmes with a stethoscope! Vets may use radiological studies (x-rays), cytology (looking at cell samples), maybe even fine-needle aspiration (a tiny needle extraction) from the nasal area or throat if they suspect underlying issues beyond just an allergy-induced performance.

6. Got any tricks up your sleeve for helping my four-legged friend during one of these episodes?

Sure do! Try gently massaging their throat which can encourage them to swallow; this often helps stop the performance mid-act. Or open up that fresh airway by covering their nostrils briefly—just for a second—it usually does the trick by ending the scene quicker than you’d expect!

Remember, while most cases are benign symphonies needing no intervention besides applause at their end — keeping tabs on frequency and accompanying acts is key for ensuring there isn’t something more serious playing behind the curtains.

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