Reverse Sneezing in Dogs - Causes, Treatment And Care

By Ameera Mills. August 21, 2019
Reverse Sneezing in Dogs - Causes, Treatment And Care

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Reverse sneezing in dogs, also known as inspiratory paroxysmal respiration, is a disorder that can occur in all dogs, which generally causes immediate worry among tutors. This worry stems mainly from the fact that when a dog suffers from backwards sneezing, it seems like they are choking.

Does your dog sometimes suffer from reverse sneezing? If so, keep reading here at AnimalWised to find the main causes, symptoms and treatment of backwards sneezing in dogs.

You may also be interested in: My Cat Is Reverse Sneezing

Sneezing in dogs

When a dog sneezes, it’s important to differentiate the difference in causes associated with human sneezing. The most common causes of sneezing in humans include allergies, sinusitis or colds. In dogs, however, sneezing is caused by either the presence of foreign bodies in their nose, mites and/or dust. Sometimes, a dog can sneeze due to excitement or nervousness. In more serious cases, sneezing in dogs could be caused by a tumor in the nasal area.

When it comes to sneezing in dogs, worry should only occur when the sneezing is frequent and its intensity is disproportionate. If your dog is coughing and sneezing, this could be a symptom of a respiratory tract infection. Sneezing in dogs is not caused by allergies. Rather, symptoms of allergies in dogs present themselves as rashes on the skin, skin inflammation or stinging.

For more, read our article where we discuss everything you need to know about dog food allergies.

Reverse Sneezing in Dogs - Causes, Treatment And Care - Sneezing in dogs

What is reverse sneezing in dogs?

It’s important to note that sneezing in dogs is different to reverse sneezing in dogs. Inverse or inverted sneezing (inspiratory paroxysmal respiration) consists of a muscle spasm caused by a palatal or tracheal irritation which results in violent air aspirations. Reverse sneezing in dogs can be incredibly worrisome to owners, as it manifests itself physically, and it may seem like a dog is drowning or choking.

Is reverse sneezing in dogs dangerous? No, in general, however, it is not a serious and/or dangerous condition.

Reverse sneezing usually appears in breeds prone to respiratory conditions such as pugs or bulldogs, with a higher incidence in brachycephalic or flat-nosed dog breeds.

For more about these dog breeds, we suggest taking a look at our article where we list a brachycephalic dog breeds list.

Reverse sneezing vs. tracheal collapse

As we have already commented, reverse sneezing is not serious, unless complications occur, which are very rare. However, what does require immediate attention is the presence of a tracheal collapse. But what is the difference between reverse sneezing in dogs and a tracheal collapse?

One of the main differences between a reverse sneeze and tracheal collapse is the duration. Inverted sneezing does not last long and once it is over, the dog will act normal as if nothing has happened.

A tracheal collapse, on the other hand, is a partial or total obstruction of the trachea, as a result of the weakening of the muscular rings that form it. When this happens, the animal begins to present easily detectable symptoms, among which include a whistling sound, difficulty breathing, coughing and lethargy. Tracheal collapse is more common in toy breeds, such as chihuahuas and Yorkies.

Tracheal collapse in dogs can occur in different degrees. Tracheal collapse in dogs treatment will depend on the severity of the condition. Some dogs may only require steroids, while others may need surgical intervention. For this reason, if you notice any of the above tracheal collapse symptoms in your dog, we recommend consulting your veterinarian as soon as possible.

For more about dog breathing difficulties, read here.

Reverse Sneezing in Dogs - Causes, Treatment And Care - Reverse sneezing vs. tracheal collapse

Reverse sneezing in dogs: causes

Reverse sneezing is more frequent in dogs with a flat or short snout. Flat-nosed dogs tend to suffer more from respiratory difficulties due to their articular anatomy. But what are the main causes of reverse sneezing in dogs?

Reverse sneezing is more common in brachycephalic breeds with an elongated palate and dog breeds with a longer nasal passage. It mainly occurs due to a pharyngeal reflex or gag reflex.

These spasms usually occur due to the presence of strong and penetrating odors, dust in the environment, over-excitement or the pulling of a collar or strap. It may also sometimes occur due to an infection or virus, although this is less frequent. Additionally, in these cases, the sneezing will be continuous and worsen quickly.

For more, read why is my dog gagging all the time?

Dog reverse sneezing a lot: what to do

You may be wondering, ‘‘What should I do if my dog is reverse sneezing?’’ If you notice that our dog suffers from reverse sneezing regularly, we recommend consulting a veterinarian to confirm a diagnosis and rule out any possibility of a serious pathology. A professional will also be able to identify whether it is a symptom derived from an infection or another health problem.

Reverse Sneezing in Dogs - Causes, Treatment And Care - Dog reverse sneezing a lot: what to do

Reverse sneezing in dogs: treatment

Because reverse sneezing in dogs is not a disease per se, there is no cure. Treatment for reverse sneezing in dogs is only necessary if it is caused by the presence of a tumor or infection. In the case of tumors, a veterinarian will determine the needed treatment. If the cause is an infection, a veterinarian will likely prescribe antibiotic treatment.

Reverse sneezing and vomiting in dogs

Sometimes, when an inverse sneeze occurs, the animal adopts an extended back and neck posture and makes wheezing or gagging sounds, similar to that which normally precedes vomiting. Reverse sneezing is not, however, accompanied by vomiting or nausea, as it only affects the trachea or palate.

What may occur is a sneeze aimed at expelling a foreign body, which can be partnered with saliva. This should not be confused for vomiting or bile.

Reverse sneezing in dogs: home remedies

Are you wondering what you can do if your dog is reverse sneezing. There are some measures you can take to help relieve the pressure:

  • Massage your dog’s throat during a reverse sneezing episode.
  • Cover your dog’s nose, carefully and for a very short time. This will force your dog to swallow saliva, which will help with trachea irritation.

Lastly, if your dog suffers from a reverse sneeze, make sure to stay calm. The more panicked you are, the more stress you will place on your dog, which will only aggravate the situation.

Reverse Sneezing in Dogs - Causes, Treatment And Care - Reverse sneezing in dogs: home remedies

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Reverse Sneezing in Dogs - Causes, Treatment And Care, we recommend you visit our Breathing diseases category.

  • Doust, R. (2004). Nasal Discharge, Sneezing, and Reverse Sneezing. Textbook of Respiratory Disease in Dogs and Cats, 17–29.
  • Jennifer Coates. Reverse Sneezing in Dogs: Is It Normal?. 2019, de Pet MD Sitio web:
  • Dr. Jerry Klein, CVO. (19.05.2016). What Happens When A Dog Reverse Sneezes?. 21.08.2019, de American Kennel Club Sitio web:

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