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Understanding Reverse Sneeze in Dogs

If a dog experiences a reverse sneeze, it can be a terrifying ordeal. You may witness your dog stop what they are doing and extend their neck prior to producing a loud snorting noise which might frighten you both. Below, our Citrus Heights vets explain paroxysmal respiration or a reverse sneeze is in dogs and what you can do to calm your dog afterward.

What happens when a dog has a reverse sneeze?

Paroxysmal respiration, or reverse sneezing as it is more commonly called, is a condition that causes the dog to rapidly pull air in through the nose producing a loud snorting sound. In fact, it sounds a bit like your dog is trying to take a deep breath in while sneezing at the same time.

When a dog experiences a reverse sneeze, you may witness your dog stop what they are doing and extend their neck prior to producing a loud snorting noise which might frighten you both even though the effects will typically last only a minute or so.

What is the cause of reverse sneezes in dogs?

Reverse sneezing is believed to be caused by inflammation or irritation of the nasal, pharyngeal, or sinus passages, and could be the dog's attempt at removing the irritant causing the issue. Some irritants believed to trigger the reverse sneezing reflex in dogs include dust, nasal mites, seeds, grass, pollen and smoke or conditions such as masses or an elongated soft palate.

Some dogs may actually experience these reverse sneeze episodes when they become overstimulated and overexcited.

Should I be concerned about reverse sneezes in dogs?

Typically, a dog experiencing the effects of a reverse sneeze is nothing to worry about and they may continue whatever it was they were doing prior to the experience. There are no health repercussions to be concerned with and you can allow your dog to finish the episode and continue doing the various things that they do.

If your dog has been experiencing any underlying conditions and has other symptoms along with the sudden development of reverse sneezes then it’s always a good idea to have them examined by your veterinarian, just to determine the right diagnosis.

Some symptoms that can point to other conditions like asthma, heart disease, and tracheal collapse include:

  • Labored breathing
  • Ongoing, consistent cough
  • Frequent wheezing
  • Panting without exercise
  • Open-mouthed breathing
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of interest in exercise
  • Pale or blue gums

All of the above symptoms deserve further investigation, if your dog is displaying one or more of these symptoms contact your vet right away to book an examination for your dog.

What can I do to help my dog relax after a reverse sneeze?

Once your dog has received a full examination and diagnosis from your vet you can manage your dog's symptoms at home in a few easy ways.

  • Stay calm and upbeat, to help your dog’s anxiety and stress.
  • Address any anxiety or fear your pet may be facing and keep them focused on enrichment toys and activities as a way to avoid anxiety or overexcitement.
  • Massage your pet’s throat to get them to swallow. This can sometimes help to stop the episode.
  • Gently lift their head up and then down.
  • Distract your pet with a toy, treat, or dinner.

While being an unusual situation to experience, our vets can assure you that your dog will be just fine.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If you have witnessed a reverse sneeze from your dog and have some questions please contact Family Friends Veterinary Hospital. Our vets are here to provide guidance on the various concerns with Citrus Heights pets.

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Family Friends Veterinary Hospital is happy to accept new patients! Our vets are passionate about improving the health of Citrus Heights companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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