Why Do Dogs Reverse Sneeze? Is Your Dog Sneezing Normal?

Ritwik Bhuyan
Nov 29, 2022 By Ritwik Bhuyan
Originally Published on Oct 13, 2021
Edited by Katherine Cook
Fact-checked by Sakshi Raturi
Boxer dog trying to sneeze.
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 5.6 Min

Reverse sneezing in dogs is a common respiratory phenomenon but not noticed usually by pet owners.

You must have noticed sneezing in dogs. A reverse sneezing episode is a little different as dogs rapidly pull air through their nasal passages into the nose. A regular sneeze is pushing out air from the nose.

Reverse sneezing in dogs is a common phenomenon also called mechanosensitive aspiration reflex. It is also known by the name, paroxysmal respiration.

It affects all breeds of dogs but mostly those with flat faces and shorter noses. If you haven't seen or heard a reverse sneezing episode by your pet before, a trip to the veterinarian for treatment or regular calls to the veterinary clinic is required.

Reverse sneezing in dogs sounds like a loud snorting sound which might indicate to new owners that it might be a breathing issue.

Irritation on the nose, back of the throat, sinuses, or foreign particles can trigger an episode of reverse sneezing in dogs. Sudden irritants in the nose can cause this phenomenon too.

An elongated soft palate, nasal mites, foreign bodies such as seeds, secretions, pollens, grasses, smoke, odors, allergies, and masses can be these irritants we are talking about. Rapid inhalations are made while standing with their legs apart, eyes bulging, and head extended.

There are a few breeds at a greater risk of reverse sneezing like the brachycephalic breeds, Yorkies, and beagles. Some dogs get episodes of reverse sneezing as they age and some dogs never see one episode of reverse sneezing at all.

An owner can easily spot the difference between a regular sneeze and a reverse sneeze. During the episodes of reverse sneezing, you might think your dog has something caught in their throat, but that's not the case.

The episode sometimes might also finish with a sound that sounds like a gag or snort. The episode will probably stop with the sound of swallowing.

These episodes are much like a spasm, recurring or sudden attacks. It's necessary sometimes to get a quick health medical checkup done as some episodes of reverse sneezing can last a dog's lifetime.

If you enjoyed this article, why not also read about why do dogs cough and why do dogs get eye boogers here on Kidadl?

What do you mean by sneeze and reverse sneeze?

A reverse sneeze is by inhaling while a regular sneeze is letting the air out. In simple terms, this is the difference between them, but reverse sneezing does need treatment and urgent medical help.

Reverse sneezing is a common phenomenon in most dogs, especially smaller ones, where the air breathed in is pulled rapidly through the nasal cavity. Reverse sneezes cause a loud noise which can easily create panic among owners who have heard it for the first time.

Remember to take your pet for treatment to the veterinarian because these episodes are seen as a major health risk for our small friends. It might sound like choking.

Sneezing on the other hand is very common in us and any dog breed. It's simply the dog pushing air through its nostrils. Typically, the airways are blocked, leading to this scenario. Why do dogs have a reverse sneeze? We will learn more about it in the coming paragraphs.

What causes reverse sneeze in dogs?

Firstly, remain calm if you encounter a reverse sneezing event in your dog as it is fairly common in a different breed of dogs. Be calm and take it to the veterinarian for a health checkup.

You will notice the dog standing still with its head and neck extended and snorting. Along with the neck, the front legs will be extended too.

Let us learn about the different ways a dog can develop this condition of reverse sneezing. Reverse sneezing is mostly related to nasal irritants, different kinds of allergies, nasal inflammation, sinus drainage, or pharyngeal irritation.

The irritant can be anything from allergens, smoke, pollen in the throat, or anything that can irritate the throat. The sounds made by reverse sneezes are horrific and can easily scare anyone.

At times, reverse sneezing is caused due to foreign object obstruction in the nasal cavity. It's a typical health hazard that needs proper care from the vet.

An elongated soft palate can also cause these reverse sneezing episodes in a dog. Many owners are shocked by these episodes that last for several seconds and the thought that the dog is unable to take a breath comes to mind.

It should be made clear though that reverse sneezing is not life-threatening and will finish fast. There may be some situations where reverse sneezing happens frequently.

This may be a cause of concern as this reverse sneezing might be due to some other underlying condition the dog is going through.

If these episodes are recurring, a trip to the vet to check for health conditions like nasal mites, allergies, coughing, foreign objects in the throat, upper airway infections, tracheal collapse, or nasal cancer should be done fast.

Beige pug sitting on grass trying to sneeze.

Why do small dogs reverse sneeze?

Almost all breeds suffer from reverse sneezing episodes, however, the frequency in small dog breeds is higher.

Reverse sneezing is more common in dog breeds like beagles, terriers, and brachycephalic breeds. However, it is not related to these breeds and can happen to any dog breed in the world.

Let's learn how to tackle these events of reverse sneezing if we see it in our dog. Calm sounds can really help the dog feel better and stop sneezing, meaning they no longer need to go to the vet. However, call a clinic if the episodes become frequent.

Ways To Stop Reverse Sneezes In Your Pet Dog

As we have already come to know about the causes of these episodes, let us see how we can help our dog in times of this crisis.

People suggest helping a dog swallow by covering its nostrils. This will probably help to get rid of the irritant in the path.

As it sounds more like choking, caressing the area to soothe the irritation can also be a good way to go. Gentle blows in the face to make it swallow or opening the mouth of the dog to press down on the tongue can also help.

This will alleviate the spasm. This causes narrowing of the opening in the trachea temporarily.

The narrowing of the trachea can make it problematic for the dog to breathe. If none of these works, a call or trip to the clinic is the best way to go to know the underlying condition which can be anything from foreign materials, nasal mite, allergies, infections, or tracheal collapse.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for why do dogs reverse sneeze then why not take a look at are birds warm blooded, or are black diamonds real.

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Written by Ritwik Bhuyan

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English

Ritwik Bhuyan picture

Ritwik BhuyanBachelor of Arts specializing in English

A skilled content writer, Ritwik holds a Bachelor's degree in English from Delhi University. He has refined his writing abilities through his past experience at PenVelope and his current role at Kidadl. In addition to his proficiency in writing, Ritwik has pursued his passion for flying by achieving CPL training and becoming a licensed commercial pilot. This diverse skill set highlights his commitment to exploring multiple fields. Ritwik's experience in the aviation industry has provided him with a unique perspective and attention to detail, which he brings to his writing.

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Fact-checked by Sakshi Raturi

Postgraduate Diploma in Management

Sakshi Raturi picture

Sakshi RaturiPostgraduate Diploma in Management

Sakshi has experience in marketing strategy, social media planning, and recruiting industry experts for capstone projects, she has displayed a commitment to enhancing their skills and knowledge. She has won multiple awards, including a Certificate of Appreciation for Creative Writing and a Certificate of Merit for Immaculate Turut, and is always seeking new opportunities to grow and develop.

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