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Reverse Sneezing in Dogs

| Updated September 26, 2017

Witnessing your dog reverse sneezing -- paroxysmal respiration -- can be alarming. It happens when he rapidly pulls air into his nose, the reverse of a regular sneeze where air is pushed out. Your dog will stand still, with his head and neck extended, while snorting loudly. Episodes can be frequent, but usually last less than a minute, and then just stop. Afterwards, your dog will back to normal.

Causes and Likely Candidates

Reverse sneezing can occur when a dog gets excited or if something irritates his throat. Irritants such as mites, pollen, smoke, perfumes and household chemicals can all trigger a bout of reverse sneezing. Viruses, allergies or a foreign body caught in your dog's throat also can cause episodes. It can even happen when your dog is eating or pulling on his leash. Brachycephalic breeds -- flat-faced dogs such as pugs and boxers -- often have elongated soft palates. If they suck the elongated palate into their throat as they inhale, it can cause reverse sneezing. Small dogs, possibly due to their smaller throats, and breeds with long noses and narrow nasal passages are prone to the condition.

Consulting Your Veterinarian

Reverse sneezing usually doesn't require treatment. Gently massaging your dog's throat or covering his nose so he swallows usually will stop the reverse sneeze. It's advisable for your veterinarian to rule out other problems. The honking cough of a dog with tracheal collapse sounds similar to reverse sneezing. However, this is a serious condition, where the normally rigid trachea -- windpipe -- has a defect and is prone to collapse on internal or external pressure.