Reverse Sneezing – What Is It? Is It Dangerous? How Can I Stop It?

What is it?

The easiest way to explain reverse sneezing is to first define a regular sneeze: The rapid motion of pushing air out the nostrils. Reverse sneezing is the opposite where rather than pushing air out, air is rapidly pulled into the nose. When this happens your pet will make deep and long inspirations, stand still, and extend his head and neck. A loud snorting sound is produced, which may make you think that your pet has something caught in his or her nose or throat. A reverse sneezing episode can last for several seconds to a minute.

This is a condition most commonly seen in small breed dogs, perhaps because they have smaller throats and windpipes.

Brachycephalic breeds, like Pugs and Bulldogs, with elongated soft palates, occasionally suck the palate into the throat, which can cause an episode of reverse sneezing as well.

Is it Dangerous?

While it may be alarming, this condition is not at all dangerous or life-threatening. However, it can be a symptom of something serious. If your pets reverse sneezing seems to be affecting his/her quality of life, if episodes seem to be lasting longer or if they are happening more frequently we recommend bringing your pet in for a visit as it may be related an upper respiratory tract infection (such as Bordetella, commonly known as the Kennel Cough virus), nasal tumors, nasal polyps, a foreign body in the nasal passage, or another respiratory condition.

How can I stop it?

Some of our clients have reported their pets getting almost immediate relief from an episode of reverse sneezing by briefly covering their nostrils. This technique forces them to breath through their mouth and breaks the cycle of rapid inhalation through the nasal passage. To do this, place the pads your fingertips over your pets nostrils to cover them completely for no more than fifteen seconds. Once your pet inhales through their mouth, the cycle is broken and the episode should stop.

Stop immediately and uncover their nostrils if this adds to your pets distress and, instead, gently stroke their neck to help calm them down.

The content provided is for purposes of providing information only and is not meant to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Always consult your Veterinary Care Provider or another Veterinary Care Professional with any questions or concerns regarding your pet’s health.

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