Understanding Reverse Sneezing in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms, and How to Help

As pet owners, we all want to ensure the health and well-being of our furry companions. However, sometimes, our dogs exhibit strange behaviors that can be alarming and leave us wondering if they are experiencing any discomfort. One such behavior is reverse sneezing, a common occurrence in dogs that can be quite unsettling for both the dog and the owner. In this article, we delve into what reverse sneezing is, its possible causes, symptoms, and how to assist your canine friend during these episodes.

What is Reverse Sneezing? 

Reverse sneezing, also known as inspiratory paroxysmal respiration or pharyngeal gag reflex, is a reflex action seen in dogs. It is characterized by sudden, rapid, and forceful inhalations that sound like a backward sneeze. During a reverse sneezing episode, dogs may extend their necks, stand still, and make loud snorting or gasping sounds.

Causes of Reverse Sneezing:

While the exact cause of reverse sneezing is not fully understood, several factors could trigger these episodes in dogs:

  1. Irritants: Allergens, dust, pollen, or strong odors can irritate the nasal passages, leading to reverse sneezing.
  2. Excitement: Dogs may experience reverse sneezing when they are overly excited or during playtime.
  3. Post-nasal Drip: Excess mucus or post-nasal drip can cause a reverse sneezing response as the dog attempts to clear the irritation.
  4. Structural Issues: Certain dog breeds with elongated soft palates or flat faces, such as brachycephalic breeds, are more prone to reverse sneezing due to their anatomical structure.

Symptoms of Reverse Sneezing:

Reverse sneezing episodes can vary in duration and frequency. Some common symptoms include:

  • Rapid, loud, and repetitive snorting or gasping sounds.
  • Extension of the neck and backward head movement.
  • Eyes may appear wide or bulging.
  • No discharge from the nose or mouth during the episode.
  • Breathing returns to normal after the episode ends.

How to Stop Reverse Sneezing in Dogs 

If your dog experiences reverse sneezing, there are a few ways you can provide comfort and assistance:

  1. Remain Calm: Dogs can sense their owners’ emotions. Stay calm and reassure your pet during the episode.
  2. Gently Massage the Throat: Softly massaging your dog’s throat may help alleviate the irritation causing the reverse sneezing.
  3. Create a Calm Environment: Reduce any triggers that could contribute to your dog’s reverse sneezing, such as strong odors or irritants in the air.
  4. Humidify the Air: Using a humidifier can help keep the air moist, reducing the likelihood of irritation in the nasal passages.

When to Seek Veterinary Attention:

In most cases, reverse sneezing is harmless and resolves on its own. However, if your dog experiences frequent or prolonged episodes, shows signs of distress, has difficulty breathing, or exhibits other concerning symptoms, it’s essential to consult a veterinarian. A professional evaluation can rule out any underlying health issues and provide peace of mind for both you and your beloved furry companion.

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