Reverse Sneezing In Dogs

Julia Henriques
Reverse sneezing in dogs

Ever hear your dog make a weird snorting or gagging noise that sounds a bit like he’s sucking air in his nose? Chances are, he’s experiencing a case of reverse sneezing. Reverse sneezing is also known by a more technical name: paroxysmal respiration. 

In this article, we'll dive into all the ins and outs of reverse sneezing in dogs. Read on to get the full scoop on its causes, our favorite home remedies for reverse sneezing in dogs, and when to seek veterinary care.

What Is Reverse Sneezing In Dogs?

Reverse sneezing when your dog inhales sharply, while producing spasmodic snorting, choking or sucking sounds. You may see your dog walking around, with his head held low, when he's reverse sneezing. Reverse sneezing episodes can last a few seconds or a few minutes.

Imagine your dog taking a breath in, but instead of the air flowing smoothly, it seems like it suddenly gets “stuck” - like a car in a traffic jam. You’ll usually hear some noise during this “sticking” point. That's reverse sneezing. 

Causes Of Reverse Sneezing In Dogs. 

Here are some of the most common triggers of reverse sneezing in dogs:

  • Nasal Irritation and Allergies: Just like us, our dogs can have sensitive noses. In fact, their noses are much more sensitive. So indoor or outdoor irritants like dust, pollen, or strong perfumes can tickle their nasal passages and trigger sudden onset of reverse sneezing in dogs.
  • Excitement Or Overstimulation: Sometimes, when our furry friends get a little too excited or experience sudden changes in their environment, it can lead to spasms of the soft palate, causing reverse sneezing.
  • Structural Issues: Certain breeds, particularly brachycephalic breeds with flat faces, like Pugs or Bulldogs, may be more prone to reverse sneezing due to their unique anatomy. Since they have elongated soft palates or narrow nasal passages that are squeezed into a smaller space, these breeds may experience sneezing sensations more frequently.
  • Foreign Objects: Dogs, especially curious ones, can accidentally inhale small particles, grass blades, chemicals, or other foreign objects. These can irritate their nasal passages and trigger sudden onset of reverse sneezing in dogs.
  • Pulling On Leash: If your dog walks on a collar, pulling on leash can trigger a reverse sneezing episode. Make sure your dog’s collar fits comfortably and isn’t too tight … or even better, walk him on a harness. 
  • Chronic Reverse Sneezing: Some dogs can suffer intermittent reverse sneezing as a long term reaction to rabies vaccination or other medications. 

Is Reverse Sneezing In Dogs Dangerous?

Reverse sneezing in dogs can be distressing to watch … but it's usually harmless and doesn't indicate a serious health issue.

Most of the time, reverse sneezing in small dogs and big dogs alike doesn't pose any significant threat to your pup's wellbeing. It might look uncomfortable, but it doesn’t usually cause any harm or distress to your dog.

Here are a few home remedies you can use for excessive reverse sneezing in dogs …

How To Stop Reverse Sneezing In Dogs

Again, since reverse sneezing in dogs is usually harmless, most of the time you don’t need to do anything. For the most part, reverse sneezing in dogs will pass quickly and he'll return to normal breathing.

But if you’re dealing with a rare case of excessive reverse sneezing in dogs, or if you simply want to help ease your pup’s discomfort, there are plenty of home remedies for reverse sneezing in dogs. 

Here are some home remedies and techniques to stop reverse sneezing:

  • Gentle Massage: Try gently massaging your dog's throat to help soothe the spasms and relax their airways.
  • Humidification: Increasing the humidity in your home, especially during dry seasons, can sometimes reduce nasal irritation and minimize the frequency of reverse sneezing episodes.
  • Nasal Irrigation: Using a simple saline solution, you can safely flush out any irritants or congestion in your dog's nasal passages. This may provide relief from reverse sneezing, especially if it’s due to irritation from allergies or environmental triggers.
  • Colostrum: some owners find that adding bovine colostrum to food may help relieve symptoms of chronic reverse sneezing. 
  • Nebulizer: Using a nebulizer with plain distilled water may also help relax your dog’s nasal passages.

Excessive Reverse Sneezing In Dogs: What You Can Do

Already tried the tips above and still having trouble? To manage and reduce the occurrence of reverse sneezing in the long run, you could also consider these strategies:

  • Make lifestyle adjustments, such as using hypoallergenic bedding or avoiding known triggers.
  • Your holistic vet may recommend supplements that can help.
  • In extreme situations, some vets may recommend surgery to correct structural issues that contribute to severe reverse sneezing. 

Remember, every dog is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. It's essential to observe your dog's behavior and talk to your holistic vet to determine the best course of action.

So ... how do you know when it’s time to talk to your vet about reverse sneezing? Here are a few signs that you might want to think about a consult:

  • Reverse sneezing episodes are becoming more frequent, severe, or prolonged.
  • Your dog is showing signs of respiratory distress (coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing, etc) or other concerning symptoms.
  • Your dog has underlying health conditions that could be contributing to the reverse sneezing.

Bottom Line

It may sound alarming, but reverse sneezing in small dogs and large dogs is common and  generally harmless. 

If the problem persists, you can even help your pup by using gentle techniques like throat massages, humidification, and nasal irrigation. 

If reverse sneezing still becomes more frequent or severe, or if your dog shows signs of respiratory distress, don't hesitate to seek out your holistic vet.

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© 2024, Four Leaf Rover - The content on this website is not meant to replace veterinary advice. Please support the hard working holistic vets who make this information possible. To find a holistic or homeopathic vet near you or to find one who will do phone consultations, visit The Academy Of Veterinary Homeopathy.