Reverse Sneezing in Dogs

Reverse sneezing occurs in dogs.  It is characterized by rapid and repeated forceful inhalationIMG 4688 300x200 through the nose followed by snorting or gagging sounds.  The episodes of reverse sneezing can be very alarming to anyone observing.  It is not uncommon for people to think their dog is in respiratory distress during an episode of reverse sneezing and rush their dog to an emergency clinic.  Although reverse sneezing looks scary the reality is that these episodes are not harmful to your dog.

The most common cause of reverse sneezing is an irritation of the soft palate and throat that results in a spasm.  There are many possible underlying causes of reverse sneezing, such as inhaled allergens/irritants, nasal mites, foreign bodies, excitement, or it sometimes will occur when your dog is eating or drinking.  Brachycephalic breeds (dogs with flat faces, such as Pugs or Bulldogs) are believed to be more prone to reverse sneezing due to having an elongated soft palate that gets sucked into the throat.  Most dogs that experience reverse sneezing tend to do it intermittently throughout their lives and the episodes occur without warning.

If reverse sneezing occurs secondary to allergies your dog might benefit from antihistamines.  If there are nasal mites, ivermectin is the recommended treatment.  During an episode of reverse sneezing you can cover your dog’s nose and scratch its throat.  This will make your dog swallow and possibly stop the reverse sneezing.  In most dogs with reverse sneezing the underlying cause will not be identified and they will not improve with medication.   Although it is unpleasant to observe episodes of reverse sneezing it is important to remember that reverse sneezing does not cause physical harm to dogs.

Below is a video with an excellent demonstration of a dog reverse sneezing.

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Dr Peter Nurre

Peter Nurre, DVM, Diplomate ACVIM (internal medicine) is a board- certified veterinary internal medicine specialist. His professional interests include internal medicine and cardiology.

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