Stopping Reverse Sneezing in Dogs

Sneezing in dogs is common in the present of upper respiratory infection. It can also be caused by allergies, irritants or even foreign objects lodged in the nose or sinuses. Reverse sneezing, however, is different from regular sneezing; when a dog sneezes normally, he expels air out through his nose, but when he reverse sneezes, he pulls air in through his nose, which often produces a loud choking noise. Here's what reverse sneezing in dogs looks like, what causes it and how you can stop it.

Reverse Sneezing Explained

Reverse sneezing, or mechanosensitive aspiration reflex, is a common respiratory dysfunction in dogs. When a dog reverse sneezes, he quickly pulls air in through his nose (rather than expelling it quickly, as in a normal sneeze). Reverse sneezing is loud and your dog may appear to be choking, but he isn't.

If your dog is experiencing an episode of reverse sneezing, he'll inhale rapidly many times. He'll stand with his front legs apart and his head held out; his eyes may appear to bulge as well. Reverse sneezing in dogs sounds like a loud, repetitive snort. Many owners mistake a reverse sneezing fit for a choking fit.

An episode of reverse sneezing may last for up to two minutes.

Causes of Reverse Sneezing in Dogs

Vets don't know exactly what causes dogs to reverse sneeze, but they know that dogs of any age or breed may succumb to fits of reverse sneezing. Male dogs are just as likely as female dogs to reverse sneeze.

Reverse sneezing is often related to allergies, inflammation of the nasal or sinus passages, or irritants. It's usually not serious or life threatening, and most dogs behave normally in between fits of reverse sneezing. However, reverse sneezing may be a symptom of infestation by nasal mites, or even a result of nasal cancer. If your dog reverse sneezes often, consult a veterinarian to ensure that your dog's reverse sneezing fits aren't the result of something serious, like nasal tumors or cancer.

How You Can Stop Reverse Sneezing in Dogs

If your dog has a reverse sneezing fit, you can help stop it by gently massaging the dog's throat with your fingertips. Stroke from the chin downward, gently.

If this doesn't work, try briefly pinching your dog's nostrils closed. Other methods of stopping a reverse sneezing fit include opening the dog's mouth and gently pulling on the tongue or giving the dog a drink of water or a small treat. If your dog's reverse sneezing fits are frequent and severe, your vet can prescribe medication to control them.

When to Seek Veterinary Care

Seek veterinary care for your dog's reverse sneezing if your dog reverse sneezes on a daily basis, especially if fits of reverse sneezing occur more than once a day. If your dog has any other symptoms, such as normal sneezing, a bloody nose, loss of appetite, lethargy, facial deformity or deformities to the muzzle or breathing problems, consult your veterinarian.