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This article describes what Reverse Sneezing is and how it is characterized as a backward sneeze that most small breed dogs experience...


Reverse Sneezing is also known as or pharyngeal paroxysmal respiration gag reflex and is common in small dog breeds. Reverse sneezing is not actually a sneeze at all, but is a spasm that occurs when the soft palate and throat become irritated.

Reverse sneezing is characterized by the backwards motion of your dogs head as your dog brings in air with lips sucking in. The purpose of this action is to remove irritants that may be lying behind your dog’s nose and nasal passages. Reverse sneezing is typically the side effect of another condition.

Reverse sneezing also commonly occurs while your dog is asleep or immediately following a long nap. Other dogs may experience it following play or exercise. Other contributes to reverse sneezing can be caused by various types of irritants and even some dog allergies. Dust, pollen, mites, household chemicals, household cleaners, perfumes, viruses, nasal inflammation and post-nasal drip are some causes. Some triggers of reverse sneezing are rapid eating or drinking. Pulling or lunging on the leash and over excitement can cause reverse sneezing as well.

Most dogs may develop this problem with age, but some can have this condition their entire lives as my dog has. My dog GiGi is a Miniature Pinscher and she is now 12.5 years old and she has had reverse sneezing ever since she was a young puppy. Thankfully, reverse sneezing is not a serious condition and it rarely requires any treatment.


Recognizing Reverse Sneezing

During a spasm a dog will extend their neck while gasping with a loud forceful snorting sound. They usually turn their elbows outward and their eyes may bulge. The trachea becomes narrow and it is more difficult to get a normal amount of air into the lungs. The chest expands as the dog tries harder to inhale.

Some owners may think that their dog are choking, suffocating or even having a seizure during an episode as the reverse sneezing may sound like the dog is inhaling sneezes. Each episode usually lasts two minutes or less and normally ends on their own and poses no threat to your dog’s health.

Dogs appear normal both before and after an episode of reverse sneezing with no after effects. Dogs do not lose consciousness nor do they collapse.


Assisting Your Dog

How can a dog owner assist a dog who is having an episode?  Rather than using his nose and its narrow nasal passages to breathe it is best for the dog to channel his breathing through his mouth.  By briefly closing off the dog’s nostrils with your thumb or index finger air will be inhaled through the mouth.  Keeping the nostrils closed for a couple of seconds your dog will swallow and the reverse sneezing will subside and eventually stop.  Gently massaging your dog’s throat also helps to calm the spasms. 

Reverse sneezing is not a dangerous or harmful condition.  It is simply a part of life for some dogs.  Just remain calm so that you will be able to address the situation without frightening your dog. 


Kimberly Dillon

Confident K9 Education 
La Bella Pooch
8001 17th Avenue
Brooklyn, New York  11214
Phone: (347) 312-2856 or (718) 704-6821
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