What is Reverse Sneezing in Dogs?

Have you ever seen your dog reverse sneeze? Do you know how to recognize reverse sneezing in dogs if you do see it? What is this condition anyway, and what causes it?

Reverse sneezing in dogs

Reverse sneezing can be very alarming the first time you see it happen, although it isn’t as concerning to your dog as it probably is to you. With that said, however, it’s still important to take your time figuring out the underlying cause of your dog’s reverse sneezing and whether or not you can do anything to help this condition in the future.

If you have any concerns about your pet’s health or behavior, never hesitate to take them to see a veterinarian or emergency vet, if the situation calls for it. When it comes to your pet’s health it’s always better to be safe than sorry, and a veterinarian will always guide you in the direction that’s best for your pet.

Read through the article below to learn more about reverse sneezing in dogs.

What Happens When a Dog Reverse Sneezes?

Reverse sneezing in dogs, which is also called paroxysmal respiration, causes a dog to start quickly breathing in through their nose instead of out. Whereas a normal sneeze involves the rapid outward push of air from the nose, a reverse sneeze is the opposite. It may sound like a snorting or severe wheezing.

Dogs who are in the middle of a reverse sneezing episode usually stand stiffly. Your dog may also hold their neck out straight from their body in an attempt to breathe better while they are reverse sneezing. The experience can last for a few seconds and up to a couple of minutes, and ends when your dog breathes out through their nose again.

What Can Trigger Reverse Sneezing Episodes in a Dog?

Although it is not known what causes dogs to develop reverse sneezing, it is often associated with other health problems. Many dogs develop reverse sneezing along with lung and heart conditions, although this is certainly not always the cause. Some dogs may have reverse sneezing with no underlying factors.

Typically, reverse sneezing episodes in dogs are triggered by environmental contaminants. These may include smoke, odd smells, pollen, or other allergens. They may also include mites or fleas that can find their way into a dog’s nose. Each dog’s reverse sneezing triggers may be different, but allergens are a common factor.

Are There Any Reasons to Worry About Reverse Sneezing in Dogs?

Not really. Dogs do not usually realize anything worse than a normal sneeze is going on when they experience these episodes. However, in some rare cases, dogs may become anxious or fearful from the experience of reverse sneezing.

However, if your pet experiences anxiety and fear, those are the only causes for concern in a dog who reverse sneezes. These episodes look and sound a lot worse than they are, and your dog is not actually at risk of any harm during a reverse sneeze. It may take them a few minutes to start breathing normally again, but they will be fine when the episode has passed.

Is There a Cure or Treatment for Reverse Sneezing in Dogs?

There is no cure or treatment for reverse sneezing, but if your dog’s reverse sneezing is not caused by any other underlying health problems, there isn’t any need to worry about curing it. With that said, however, you may want to look for ways to help your dog stay calm during these attacks.

If your dog is in the middle of a reverse sneezing episode, gently stroke the back of their neck until they calm down. They should be able to breathe normally again in a few minutes. You may be able to cut down on the number of reverse sneezing episodes your dog deals with by using a humidifier near the place where they sleep, too.

Can Dog Reverse Sneezing be Mistaken for Something Else?

Not usually, since a dog reverse sneezing episode has a very distinctive look and sound both. However, if you’ve never seen or heard a reverse sneeze before, you may think your dog is reverse sneezing when they are actually suffering from the “honking” cough associated with kennel cough.

Additionally, some dogs may seem like they are reverse sneezing when they are actually wheezing and trying to breathe. This happens most commonly in dogs who have congestive heart failure, heartworm disease, or collapsing trachea.

Only your vet can tell you for sure whether or not your dog’s strange wheezing or sneezing noises are from one of these conditions or from a more benign diagnosis of dog reverse sneezing instead.

What to Do for Reverse Sneezing in Dogs

Reverse sneezing isn’t always a serious problem, and on its own, it isn’t anything to worry about. However, it can sometimes signify a more concerning underlying problem in your pet that may need to be addressed sooner rather than later.

If your dog reverse sneezes once and seems to be fine, there is likely nothing else to worry about. However, if attacks of reverse sneezing occur often, you may need to take them to the vet to have them checked out. Reverse sneezing is not an emergency, but a trip to the regular vet can make it easier for you to tell what’s going on with your pet.

If you have any other questions or concerns about reverse sneezing in dogs, book an appointment at any of our Heart + Paw locations now. Our team will be able to provide more insight into this behavior will be able to check on your pet’s overall health. When it comes to your pet’s wellbeing, you should always find out the true cause of what’s going on so you can make sure your pet gets the care they need. Our expert and compassionate veterinary professionals strive to make sure your pet stays as healthy as possible.

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Heart + Paw was founded in 2018 by Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. George Melillo, who currently serves the Mid-Atlantic area. Heart + Paw offers a combination of veterinary care, pet grooming, and dog daycare to help be a resource in your pet parenthood journey.

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