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Reversed Sneezing in Dogs… Symptoms, expectations and costs!

Reversed Sneezing, though funny sounding, is an actual medical condition that’s not all that uncommon.  However, it’s a “bit” of a stretch to call reverse sneezing a disease because, in truth, it’s more of an episodic condition that results in your dog making some pretty hilarious noises. Considered a benign condition that’s not treated often; this condition can cause panic and alarm for some owners and probably some mild discomfort for the dog during these occasional episodes.

The excellent news is…

For the most part, reverse sneezing is considered harmless and painless for the dog, so though owners frequently attend the vet with this condition, there is often not much they can do about it.  This is why usually, once the “harmlessness” of this condition is explained, the urgency and panic are soothed, and with some states, that is all a worried owner needs.

In fact…

Most of the time, this particular condition is worse for the owners than it is for the dog itself, but there is the odd occurrence where dogs can develop more severe problems because of Reverse Sneezing, so you should always get it checked by a vet, just in case.  For this reason, we wanted to take a closer look at the process of ‘backward sneezing’ and see what it is, how it happens, and what, if anything, we can do about it.

What is reverse sneezing, and why does it happen?

Reverse Sneezing has several technical terms, including Pharyngeal Gag Reflex and Inspiratory Paroxysmal Respiration, but most people consider it a backward sneeze.  It takes place in short episodes, and the only real danger is too tiny or toy-breed dogs, who can suffer from tracheal collapse if it goes on for too long.

What most experts believe is…

That it occurs due to some irritant lodged in the nose or throat, usually pressing against the soft palate and causing an itch, the dog sneezes, but rather than sneezing outward, it sneezes inwards, which sounds terrible, like a snort or honk.  The sneezing typically occurs in episodes accompanied by spasms and is most common in Brachycephalic dog breeds with shorter snouts than others.

Irritation of the nostrils can also cause this distinct snorting sound; the first time you hear it, it is understandable if you panic. Dog owners often think that their dog is choking. But the truth is, tracheal collapse is the only real danger here and will only happen if your dog’s nasal passages rupture or your dog’s respiratory tract has become hurt.

A respiratory infection…

It is the second most common danger next to a collapsing trachea. Clinical signs of this condition include:

  • Coughing,
  • Snorting,
  • Sneezing

And, in more extreme cases, wheezing and breathlessness.  As a result, this condition may be mistaken for an asthma attack and can trigger one if your dog is a sufferer. It may also be a symptom of asthma, so it is always best to get your veterinary surgeon to look. The dog may also have a sensitive gag reflex and choke on food.

Common causes of this condition are…

  • Inheritance of DNA that carries it,
  • Foreign bodies,
  • Dust mites and allergies can cause it.

As can common irritants found around the home. Nasal mites and post-nasal drip are also associated with this condition. It can also develop after your dog has lung or nasal passage conditions.

Most Commonly Affected Breeds

As mentioned above, Brachycephalic breeds are most at risk. Pugs are also considered the most likely breed to suffer. That being said, the known affected breeds from Reverse Sneezing are as follows:

Please remember that we cannot guess the likelihood of a mixed-breed dog getting Reverse Sneezing. It is common among smaller animals, so if you have a small, mixed breed, or toy dog, there is a higher chance of contraction.

Treatment Options

Unlike most of the conditions we describe in this guide, your vet can do nothing if Reverse Sneezing is your dog’s only problem. If they are suffering from a collapsing trachea, the vet will want to perform surgery; if they have asthma, the vet will want to prescribe medications – but once these two possibilities have been ruled out, there is very little left to do.

Many owners…

Do find that holding their pet tightly while they are mid-episode will help them to recover faster. Likewise, pinching your dog’s nose and forcing them to swallow can help to stop a particularly harsh episode by clearing the passages out forcibly. Otherwise, fell free to laugh; it is a pretty funny sound once you know they are only sneezing!

It’s important to remember…

We here at IndulgeYourPets are not doctors, veterinarians, or medical professionals.  All we are is a bunch of folks who care about animals.  So, if you think your pet is suffering from Reverse Sneezing, take them to a vet ASAP!

And Finally…

Although harmless, reverse sneezing still needs to be checked out by a vet to ensure it isn’t anything abnormal. Vet trips and examinations cost money, which you might not have at the time. This is why you need pet insurance – that and the fact that it will help you need medical costs should there be anything seriously wrong with your pup.

This brings us to…

Were we like to remind folks that we here at IndulgeYourPet are not doctors, veterinarians, or medical professionals.  We are all a bunch of folks passionate about animals and only want what’s best for them.  This is why, if you feel like your pet may have reverse sneezing (or any other health issue), you’ll want to have them checked out by a vet ASAP!


An early diagnosis will often lead to the “best” medical outcome for your pet regardless of what is bothering them, but beyond that, diagnosing a medical condition early could save you a bundle in medical costs!

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