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Reverse Sneezing in Dogs

dog reverse sneezing

Reverse sneezing in dogs is a rather common occurrence but can be very distressing to witness, especially for the first time! When dogs reverse sneeze, it looks like they’re having a hard time breathing. But luckily, it’s not a serious issue in most cases. Keep reading to learn more about symptoms, causes, and what to do if your dog is having troubles with reverse sneezing!

What is a reverse sneeze?

A normal sneeze is the forceful expelling of irritating material out of the nose. A reverse sneeze is a forceful inhalation (not expiration) when your dog has something irritating in the back of the nose, sinuses, or pharynx that they’re trying to correct. Dogs will usually have their neck extended forward or up, lips pulled back slightly, have exaggerated forward movement of the rib cage, and will make a snorting-like sound. The reverse sneezing episode can last for seconds to minutes.

What causes a dog to reverse sneeze?

There are many potential causes of reverse sneezing in dogs, such as:

  • Nasal mites
  • Allergies (most common cause in non-brachycephalic breeds)
  • Foreign body in the nose, like a grass awn
  • Drainage of secretions
  • Bacterial or fungal infection in the sinuses
  • Masses in the upper airway
  • Rhinitis
  • Elongated soft palate (very common cause in brachycephalic breeds)
  • Lower airway infection
  • Excitement
  • Tugging on the leash
  • Eating or drinking rapidly

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

You can try to block both nostrils and make your dog swallow. This helps open the upper airway and stop the spasm. Placing a finger over each nostril at the same time for 5 to 10 seconds often works.

You can also try to massage your dog’s larynx. This is the area of the neck just behind and below the jaw.

Does my dog need medical treatment for reverse sneezing?

Most dogs reverse sneeze as a result of allergies or irritants in the air. Limiting exposure to cigarette smoke, candles, diffusers, fire, and other irritants can help.

If your dog is reverse sneezing during their allergy season, a steroid or antihistamine may help. Be sure to discuss this with your vet.

If your pup has nasal discharge, pawing at the nose, is breathing abnormally, or is lethargic be sure to schedule an appointment with your vet for a physical exam and further testing.

If you have a brachycephalic breed that reverse sneezes often, snores or snorts, they may benefit from surgery to correct an elongated soft palate and check for any of the other anatomic abnormalities that may need to be addressed as part of their brachycephalic airway syndrome.

Finally, if your older dog just started reverse sneezing, there is a chance there could be a tumor forming in the upper airway region. Some nasal tumors will make your dog sneeze bloody discharge intermittently. You should schedule an appointment immediately with your local vet if you notice this.

Follow this link to a YouTube video of a dog reverse sneezing

Read more:

Diagnosing and Treating Environmental Allergies in Dogs

Kennel Cough

Nasal Mites in Dogs

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