Reverse sneezing in dogs looks a lot like hyperventilating. Your dog starts wheezing, their eyes often bulge, and you’re standing there wondering how to make it stop. If this is the first time you’re seeing it, you might think your dog is choking because it looks kind of similar to when they barf up that piece of grass they shouldn’t have eaten.
Quick tip: According to my vet, the best thing to do when your dog is is reverse sneezing is to massage and pet their throat which will interrupt the reverse sneeze. Do not give them honey or anything that they could accidentally inhale.
Here’s a dog reverse sneeze video:
If you’re really worried, Wikipedia has this to say:
“Reverse sneezing (also called backwards sneezing or inspiratory paroxysmal respiration) is a phenomenon observed in dogs, particularly in those with brachycephalic skulls. Its exact cause is unknown but may be due to:
- irritation (such as an allergy),
- the dog’s attempt to remove mucus,
- or from over-excitement due to present activity.
It is characterized by rapid and repeated forced inhalation through the nose, accompanied by snorting or gagging sounds. Though it may be distressing to the animal, it is not known to be harmful. Most dogs are completely normal before and after episodes. In addition, most dogs will have repeat episodes of reverse sneezing throughout their lives.” [ref]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reverse_sneezing[/ref]
Why my dog keeps sneezing
Here are some more specific reasons why your dog might have a reverse-sneeze:
Nasal Mites: According to PetEducation.com, nasal mites are rare (and probably not the most likely case). “Infestation with the nasal mite usually does not cause any serious symptoms, however, some dogs may develop a heavy infection and will suffer from bouts of sneezing or nose bleeds,” they write. “A healthy dog becomes infected when it has nose-to-nose contact with an infected dog.” [ref]http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=2+2111&aid=760[/ref]
Allergies: Dogs get allergies just like humans, and the spring and fall seasons can cause this reaction too. Smoke, potpourri and perfume are common allergies, although they can also be allergic to pollen and ragweed just like us. Antihistamines also have a calming effect that help with the associated anxiety.
Genetics: Is your dog a short-snouted pooch like a pug or a bulldog? Chances are there will be things tickling his nose and soft palate for the rest of his life.
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Reverse Sneezing Treatment
Nasal Mites: Vets prescribe Stronghold (oil) or Milbemax (pills) for this condition.
Irritation: According to behavior specialist Sarah Wilson, you can try to get the dog to swallow by touching the back of the dogs tongue, so longa s you don’t think he/she will bite you (remember that this is scary for them too!)
Relaxation: You can disturb the pattern of reverse sneezing my massaging your dog’s throat. If they’re having anxiety, your gentle attention will also help with the panic attack.
Allergies: Taking your dog outdoors can help, if they’re allergic to something you’ve sprayed inside the house. If that’s not the case, your vet can determine if your dog needs antihistamines for pollen season.
Genetics: Some dogs, especially those with short noses like bulldogs (that’s me!) have this issue on and off simply because our noses get irritated easily. Not much to do here except make us comfortable when it happens ALTHOUGH we can learn to do it on-demand for attention, so don’t give us TOO much attention!
Not to scare you, but there’s also such thing as a collapsing trachea, which IS serious. According to PawRescue.org, “If your dog experiences this behavior fairly frequently and the episodes are severe, a trip to the vet is in order to determine other possible causes, which can include viral infections, polyps, excessive soft palate tissue, and nasal mites. However, many cases of reverse sneezing appear to have no identifiable cause.” [ref]http://www.paw-rescue.org/PAW/PETTIPS/DogTip_ReverseSneezing.html[/ref] If your dog is wheezing, coughing and throwing up, bring them to the vet right away.
Best of luck to you and your pooch!