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Understanding Reverse Sneezing in Dogs: Causes and Remedies

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While it can be frightening to hear a strange noise from your pet, what you hear is likely only reverse sneezing. This paroxysmal respiration is often a normal occurrence for dogs and cats, so there's usually no need to panic. If your pet appears to be healthy and behaving normally, then chances are that reverse sneezing is the culprit. This article will explore what causes reverse sneezing and what you can do for your dog. 

What is Reverse Sneezing in Dogs?

At first glance, reverse sneezing might seem like a fancy agility move. But, in reality, it can be compared to regular sneezing. During typical sneezes, the air is forced out of the nasal cavity to remove an irritant. When a reverse sneeze occurs, the air is quickly inhaled through the nose - often with a loud noise - and this can occur multiple times in quick succession. While this behavior has been observed mostly in dogs, cats have also been seen to do it.

Reverse sneezing can sound like wheezing, snorting, or even honking, depending on the dog. The medical term for this is inspiratory paroxysmal respiration (IPR). Most incidents last only a few seconds up to a minute, and once finished, your pup should breathe normally and return to their usual activities. As long as the cause of the sneezing has been correctly identified as reverse sneezing, there's typically no need for veterinary treatment.


What Causes Reverse Sneezing?

Dogs of all sizes can experience reverse sneezing due to irritation or disturbance in their throat, sinus cavities, or pharynx. However, small breed and brachycephalic (flat-nosed) dogs may encounter this phenomenon more often due to their elongated soft palate, shorter nose, and facial bones.

While reverse sneezing in dogs may seem to happen suddenly and without warning, certain factors can increase the likelihood of this occurrence. These elements which can lead to a reverse sneeze in your dog include:

  • Environmental irritants such as dust, smoke
  • Strong odors or abrupt changes in temperature
  • Excitement or an overexcited state
  • Pulling on the leash
  • Eating or drinking too quickly

Pet owners familiar with reverse sneezing may find the sound of their pup's inward sneezing funny, but it is important to remain calm. Though these episodes can be recurrent in some dogs, pet parents will become used to them over time. Reverse sneezing should not evoke panic, so try to relax and remember that your pup is (usually!) just fine!

What to do if Your Dog is Reverse Sneezing?

If your pet is experiencing a reverse sneezing episode, there are a few steps you can take to help them. You can begin by lightly squeezing the nostrils shut for one second and massaging their throat to soothe them. Additionally, you can blow a little bit of air in their face, which should cause them to swallow a couple of times - this often stops the spasm of the reverse sneeze. Taking your pup outdoors or into a cooler environment with fresh air while verbally calming them may also be beneficial.

Generally, medication is not necessary for most dogs experiencing reverse sneezing. However, if the problem is due to recurring allergies, a veterinarian may prescribe an antihistamine to help alleviate the issue. Additionally, evaluating any possible environmental factors triggering the episodes can be insightful - such as household cleaners or strong perfumes.


How can you Prevent Reverse Sneezing?

Preventing reverse sneezing in dogs can be challenging, as some may be more prone to it than others. To reduce the likelihood of these episodes, try minimizing your pet's exposure to air irritants and allergens. This includes 

  • Avoiding fragranced candles and scented fresheners, and aerosols
  • Regularly changing furnace filters and using a vaporizer when the air is dry
  • Make sure to keep your pup's bedding clean
  • Bathe them regularly during allergy season 
  • Use a harness rather than a collar when out for walks
  • Finally, never give them any medication without consulting their veterinarian first

How do you Treat Reverse Sneezing?

In most cases, no treatment is required for regular reverse sneezing episodes. However, if the problem is recurrent or accompanied by other symptoms, your vet may be able to identify the cause and administer the necessary medication. For example, if nasal mites are discovered to be the source of excessive reverse sneezing, they can be treated with a relevant parasite medication. 

Although there are no specific treatments for reverse sneezing, below are some of the top products you can let your dogs try. 

Recommended Products

Allergy Skin Health

Allergy Support (Salmon Flavor)

Give your pup the best support for their allergies with Pet Honesty's Allergy Support Soft Chews. Recommended by veterinarians and made with natural and other premium ingredients, this delicious chew helps ease occasional environmental skin and seasonal allergies in your pup. Bovine colostrum works to normalize histamine response for improved allergy relief. Not only does it help relieve digestive stress, but it also supports your dog's immune system to keep them feeling healthy. It is formulated with colostrum, organic mushrooms, probiotics, and turmeric. Not only does it help reduce occasional seasonal allergies, but it also helps support their gastrointestinal tract and allows good bacteria to flourish.

PureMobility Chews

PureMobility Chews (60 Count)

Give your dog the support they need with a powerful and unique combination of ingredients. PureMobility Chews is a blend of Glucosamine HCL, Turmeric, Green Lipped Mussel, and patented collagen that work together to promote a normal inflammatory response and provide the necessary building blocks for synovial fluid cartilage and connective tissues. Turmeric and Green Lipped Mussel (which contains Omega 3's) help support a healthy inflammatory response, while Glucosamine and collagen provide the essential building blocks for cartilage and connective tissues.

Multivitamin 10-in-1

Multivitamin 10-in-1 (Chicken Flavor)

Keep your pup in tip-top shape with Multivitamin 10-in-1 Soft Chews! These tasty chews provide all the essentials for a healthy dog, including vitamins, minerals, omegas, probiotics, and glucosamine. Give your furry friend the nutrients they need to support their joints, immune system, skin, and digestion - all in one delicious chew.


FAQs on Reverse Sneezing of Dogs

Q: Is reverse sneezing a sign of a serious problem?

A: Generally, no. Reverse sneezing episodes are usually harmless and last only a few seconds. However, if the episodes become frequent or your dog has other symptoms, such as wheezing or coughing, it's best to consult your vet for further examination and treatment.

Q: What can I do to prevent reverse sneezing in my dog?

A: To reduce the likelihood of your pup experiencing a reverse sneeze, you can take some preventive measures. This includes avoiding fragranced candles and scented fresheners and aerosols, regularly changing furnace filters and using a HEPA filter in the home, and keeping your dog away from other animals when they experience a reverse sneeze. You should also keep your pup hydrated and ensure they're up-to-date on their vaccinations.

Q: Can I give my dog medication for reverse sneezing?

A: No. Reverse sneezing is usually not a serious condition and does not require any specific treatment. However, if the reverse sneezing is attributed to an underlying cause like nasal mites, your vet might recommend medication to rectify the problem. Additionally, antihistamines can be prescribed for especially extreme episodes of reverse sneezing due to allergies. You must consult your vet before giving your pup any medication or treatment.

Q: Will my dog outgrow reverse sneezing?

A: Generally, yes. Most dogs will outgrow reverse sneezing as they mature, and the episodes will become less frequent. However, if your dog experiences reverse sneezing due to an allergic reaction or other underlying cause, it's best to consult your vet for further examination and treatment. Additionally, you should follow any preventive measures (as recommended by your vet) to reduce the likelihood of your pup experiencing a reverse sneeze.

Q: Can I use natural remedies to alleviate my dog's reverse sneezing?

A: Yes, some natural remedies can help alleviate your pup's reverse sneezing episodes. For example, certain herbs such as chamomile, valerian root, and passionflower have been known to help calm and relax your pet. Additionally, some essential oils may also be beneficial for reducing the severity of reverse sneezing episodes, such as peppermint or eucalyptus oil. You can add a few drops of these oils to a diffuser to help your pup breathe easier. However, it is recommended that you consult your vet before giving your pet any natural remedies or treatments.

Q: Are there any homeopathic remedies for reverse sneezing?

A: Yes, some homeopathic remedies can help alleviate the symptoms of reverse sneezing in dogs. However, it is recommended that you consult your vet before giving your pup any homeopathic remedy or treatment. Additionally, if the reverse sneezing is attributed to an underlying cause like nasal mites, your vet might recommend a different course of treatment.

Q: What should I do if my dog is experiencing a reverse sneezing episode?

A: If your pup is exhibiting signs of a reverse sneeze, there are some steps you can take to help them out. Firstly, try to remain calm and reassure your pet throughout the episode. You can gently massage their throat to help open up their nasal passages and ease their breathing. Additionally, you can use a damp cloth to wipe away any irritants or allergens around your pup's nose that may be causing the sneezing.