Your dog suddenly stops, extends its neck, and produces a loud snorting sound. There is a good chance that you have just witnessed a reverse sneeze, and it is common in small dogs. Below, our Glendale vets explain paroxysmal respiration.

What is a reverse sneeze in dogs?

Paroxysmal respiration, or reverse sneezing as it is more commonly called, is a condition that causes the dog to rapidly pull air in through the nose producing a loud snorting sound. In fact, it sounds a bit like your dog is trying to take a deep breath in while sneezing at the same time.

When a dog reverse-sneezes, it will typically raise its head, extend its neck, and make a loud snorting sound. The majority of reverse sneezing episodes last less than one minute, but they can be frightening for pet owners and alarming for the animal.

What causes reverse sneezing in dogs?

Reverse sneezing is thought to be caused by inflammation or irritation of the nasal, pharyngeal, or sinus passages and might be the dog's attempt to remove the irritant causing the problem. Dust, nasal mites, seeds, grass, pollen, and smoke are believed to trigger the reverse sneezing reflex in dogs, as well as conditions such as masses or an elongated soft palate.

In some cases, dogs may also begin to reverse sneeze when over-excited.

Is reverse sneezing harmful to dogs?

For the majority of dogs, reverse sneezing is of little concern. The sneezing typically lasts less than a minute, after which the dogs resume their normal activities. There are no health consequences, and your dog will likely shake it off as if nothing happened.

There are some signs, though, that may point to an underlying health problem. If your dog has suddenly developed reverse sneezing, it’s always a good idea to have them examined by your veterinarian, just to determine the right diagnosis.

Some symptoms that can point to other conditions like asthma, heart disease, and tracheal collapse include:

  • Labored breathing
  • Ongoing, consistent cough
  • Frequent wheezing
  • Panting without exercise
  • Open-mouthed breathing
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of interest in exercise
  • Pale or blue gums

All of the above symptoms deserve further investigation, if your dog is displaying one or more of these symptoms contact your vet right away to book an examination for your dog.

How can I help my dog through a reverse sneezing episode?

Once your dog has been examined and given a clean bill of health from your vet, there are a few things you can do to help ease your pet through these scary episodes. 

  • Stay calm and upbeat, to help your dog’s anxiety and stress.
  • Address any anxiety or fear your pet may be facing and keep them focused on enrichment toys and activities as a way to avoid anxiety or overexcitement.
  • Massage your pet’s throat to get them to swallow. This can sometimes help to stop the episode.
  • Gently lift their head up and then down.
  • Distract your pet with a toy, treat, or dinner.

We know that this condition can seem out of the ordinary, but for most otherwise healthy dogs it looks and sounds scarier than it actually is. 

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If you have any additional questions about reverse sneezing, or to schedule an appointment for your dog, contact Limehouse Veterinary Clinic. Our vets take pride in improving the health of Glendale pets.