Dog owners, in general, are used to quite varied noises coming from our pets. Snorting, sneezing, grunting, and chirping can be the norm. However, when your pet makes a new sound outside of his usual repertoire, it can be worrisome.

Hospital Veterinari Glòries is no stranger to calls from customers concerned about the noise their pets make. One of the most common suspicious sounds is a reverse or inverted sneeze in dogs. This noise, which can scare you, but is generally harmless, must be recognized by every pet owner to know how to differentiate it from any serious health problem.

How to recognize reverse sneezing in dogs?

Once you know what’s going on, the reverse or inverted sneeze phenomenon is quite unmistakable.

A reverse sneeze, medically called paroxysmal inspiration, is just as the name implies: the opposite of a normal sneeze.

During a reverse sneezing episode, the dog will draw air in through its nose repeatedly for several seconds. This air movement results in a very dramatic nausea-like sound (even with possible mucous sound, or snoring) that occurs when the dog repeatedly extends its neck. At this time, many pet owners panic, thinking that their dog is drowning.

A reverse sneeze tends to be triggered by irritation in the back of the nasal passages or throat, while a regular sneeze usually removes irritation from the front of the nose.

There are many potential causes of a reverse sneeze in dogs. These include:

  • Nasal drainage.
  • Allergens like pollen.
  • Nasal mites.
  • Foreign objects such as plant material.
  • Irritants such as smoke or perfumes.
  • Growths.
  • Lengthening of the soft palate.

Reverse sneezing Is it dangerous?

A reverse sneeze in dogs is usually not a cause for concern. Usually the dog’s own reflex erases what triggered it, and after a dramatic scene, your pet is back to normal.

Sometimes, however, if the irritation is persistent, the reverse sneezing episodes can be prolonged or repeated. So when should you worry?

Make an appointment with us if:

  • Your pet is distressed by the episodes.
  • Other respiratory signs like cough or runny nose are present.
  • Your pet seems to be having serious trouble breathing.
  • The gums or tongue are gray / blue.
  • Your pet loses consciousness.
  • Your pet is behaving strangely.

When in doubt, it is best to let one of our vets examine your pet. Diagnostic tests can help us determine if there is another reason for your pet’s breathing problems, such as an underlying heart condition or a polyp in the nasal passage.

We agree that reverse sneezing can cause alarm – your dog becomes tense and you think he can’t breathe, but don’t panic the next time you find your pet experiencing it. Remember: normally it is not about anything serious, but when it is, we will be here to help you.