Reverse sneezing

Reverse sneezing is the rapid sucking of air into the nasal cavity that creates a noisy, honking sound.

OVERVIEW

In a normal sneeze, air is pushed out the nose. However in the case of a reverse sneeze, air is sucked into the nose. During a reverse sneeze, the dog is usually hunched over with an extended neck and makes a honking noise through its nose. It's the rapid sucking of air into the nasal cavity that creates a noisy, honking sound. There is no doubt that an episode of reverse sneezing is frightening to see. The good news is that it is short-lived and resolved by the time you make a call to your local veterinary practice.

This reflex or spasm is commonly seen in small breed dogs, dogs with narrow nasal cavities and brachycephalic dogs such as pugs, bulldogs that tend to also have elongated soft palates.

CAUSES

Common causes of the reverse sneeze:

  • Throat irritation such as from pollen, perfumes
  • Allergies
  • Excitement
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Tight collar
  • Leash pulling
  • Temperature changes
  • Viral infection

MANAGEMENT

Reverse sneezing often resolves itself without treatment within a few seconds. To help them through the episode, you can try massaging the throat.

If the problem persists or is accompanied by other signs such as coughing, or nasal discharge, seek veterinary attention immediately. Your veterinarian will do further tests to rule out a medical cause. If allergies are the main cause, your veterinarian will prescribe medications and environmental modifications to help reduce the clinical signs.

TIPS

Tips to help prevent reverse sneezing:

  • Keep the environment dust free
  • Clean the bedding regularly and place in direct sunlight
  • Ensure the collar is comfortable (you should easily be able to place two fingers beneath the collar)
  • Train the dog to not pull on the leash
  • Use a harness or halti when walking
  • Avoid overexcitement
  • Place the water or food bowl on a step or box so the pet can feed without lowering it's neck