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What is reverse sneezing in dogs?

Have you ever witnessed your dog creating a snorting sound while appearing to inhale and sneeze at the same time? Don’t worry! He’s just reverse sneezing, which is a condition that’s fairly common in dogs but rarely seen in cats.

If you’ve never seen a dog reverse sneezing, check out this video by Dr Aimee Johnson to see what happens:

Here are the top three things you need to know about your dog’s reverse sneezing:

What is reverse sneezing?

Also called backwards sneezing or inspiratory paroxysmal respiration, reverse sneezing happens when a dog makes rapid and long inspirations, stands still, and extends his head and neck. A dog produces loud and distinct snorts while reverse sneezing a few times in a row for about 5 to 10 seconds.  

When you find your dog reverse sneezing occasionally, you shouldn’t get stressed over it. The episode is not harmful nor will it produce any side effects. 

What causes reverse sneezing in dogs?

Akin to the regular way of sneezing, reverse sneezing is done to force out something that may be irritating your dog’s respiratory tract⁠—from his nose to his sinus, to the back of his throat and nasopharynx. Irritants may include allergies, infections, secretions, foreign materials (e.g. seeds, pollens, or grasses), smoke, odours, dust, and masses. 

Nasal mites may also cause a dog to reverse sneeze. These are small parasites that live in dogs’ nasal passages and sinuses, which are transmitted from direct and indirect contact between dogs or from a contaminated area. 

Dogs with brachycephalic skulls (that tend to have elongated soft palates), long noses and narrow nasal passages, or those with anatomical abnormalities are said to be more afflicted with reverse sneezing than other dogs.

How is reverse sneezing treated?

When your dog goes through a reverse sneezing episode, there is no need to rush to the vet. You can help your dog out by softly blowing in his face, gently massaging his neck area, and covering his nostrils for a few seconds. 

However, if your dog is suffering from bouts of these more than usual, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. Observe the causes and  try to capture your dog on video so you can show it to the vet during his next medical checkup. Your vet will go through your canine’s medical history and perform a complete physical examination, paying close attention to the respiratory tract and mouth. Rhinoscopy, blood and urine tests, and nasal or dental X-rays may also be administered to see what might be bothering your dog’s respiratory system. 

Your vet can easily remove foreign materials found within your dog’s respiratory system. However, masses and anatomical abnormalities may only be corrected through surgery. If the vet suspects that your dog has nasal mites, he might perform nasal flushing to obtain and examine the fluid from your pet’s nasal passages. When mites are found, antiparasitic medication may be given over the course of a few weeks to eliminate them. If your dog’s reverse sneezing is triggered by allergies or infection, he may be given antihistamine or anti-inflammatory medication to reduce the episodes. 

In conclusion

Depending on your dog’s anatomical structure, respiratory sensitivity, and exposure to nasal irritants, he may go through a number of reverse sneezing episodes in his lifetime. When this happens, just carefully watch over him and comfort him afterwards. But if there is a marked increase in his reverse sneezing episodes, schedule a visit to your veterinarian immediately. 

If you’re curious to read up on other intriguing canine-themed topics, click here. You can also learn which human foods are safe for your dog. 

About the Author:

A freelance editor based in the Philippines, Mimi Tiu is a proud paw aunt to a family of Terriers and a Ragdoll-Persian cat. When she isn’t creating meaningful content for Waldo’s Friends, she finds pleasure in chronicling her ice cream discoveries and coming up with meticulously detailed plans for her next getaway. Follow her adventures on Instagram @nicetomitiu.

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