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Reverse Sneezing in Dogs

Reverse sneezing in dogs is a common phenomenon in brachycephalic breeds (dogs with short noses). It is also known as inspiratory paroxysmal respiration or the pharyngeal gag reflex. It is a fairly common problem and not usually considered very serious. It is not an actual sneeze. Instead, it is a spasm that happens when there is irritation in the dog’s soft palate and throat. Reverse sneezing sometimes develops as a dog grows older, or a dog can have the problem for their whole life. The condition doesn’t usually require treatment.



The precise cause of reverse sneezing isn’t known but it is thought that it may occur as a result of an irritation in the nasal, sinus, or pharyngeal cavities. Eating or drinking too fast may also be causes. The dog may reverse sneeze to try to get rid of the irritation or some mucus. Or the dog may reverse sneeze if he is excited. Intolerance to exercise can be a cause, or pulling on the leash.



The symptoms of reverse sneezing include the dog inhaling rapidly and repeatedly through his nostrils, along with some gagging and snorting sounds. The whole episode may last for less than two minutes. It may sound like your dog is choking or suffocating, but reverse sneezes are not dangerous. Dogs don’t pass out during reverse sneezing and they don’t collapse. Reverse sneezing may be temporarily irritating to your dog, but it does not seem to be harmful in any way. Most dogs are perfectly normal before and after an episode of reverse sneezing. Although reverse sneezing is not the same as an actual sneeze, it seems to have no more effect on the dog than a sneeze. If your dog is prone to reverse sneezing, he will usually have episodes of reverse sneezing throughout his life. Reverse sneezing doesn’t lead to any other health problems. Reverse sneezing can occur when a dog is sleeping or right after a dog wakes up. Some dogs will reverse sneeze after they play, after exercise, or after they eat. In other cases, reverse sneezes happen without any pattern. Reverse sneezing seems to occur more often with Toy dogs, but they can happen to any dogs, no matter how large they are. Brachycephalic breeds do seem to be more prone to the occurrence. Reverse sneezing is often associated with Pugs.



You will probably be able to make a diagnosis of reverse sneezing on your own, once you start noticing your dog doing it.



There is no treatment to cure reverse sneezing. However, you may be able to occasionally prevent your dog from reverse sneezing. You can try to pinch his nose and scratch or rub his neck. Some people recommend blowing into a dog’s face. This may make your dog swallow instead of reverse sneezing. You can try to calm your dog by petting his sides. This sometimes helps the episode end more quickly. Try taking your dog for a walk to distract him, or give him something to eat. Dogs rarely require medication for reverse sneezing but if you wish to seek veterinary help your vet may be able to prescribe steroids or antihistamines for your dog if he has a problem that seems to be allergy-related or chronic.

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