Many dogs will live their entire lives without experiencing a “reverse sneeze”, while other pups will make the signature honking, wheezy snorting sounds from time to time. If you’ve never heard your dog do this, you may wonder if you’ve got a real emergency on your hands (it’s that jarring). But before you know it, your dog stops the alarming sounds and goes about their business. 

Knowing what’s going on during a reverse sneeze (also known as paroxysmal respiration) can save you a lot of worrying and expense!

Up the Nose

A normal sneeze is triggered by an irritant in the nasal passages. By forcing air out through the nose, dogs clear up any triggers. However, during a reverse sneeze, air is pulled in through the nose quite rapidly. A strange dog behavior for sure, they will stand still, extend the neck, and make snorting or honking noises.

A reverse sneeze can last for a full minute or so, but once they exhale through the nose this alarming episode concludes. 

A Reverse Sneeze Could Be a Sign Of…

Like a normal sneeze, a reverse sneeze is in reaction to various potential irritants, such as pollen, dust, mold, smoke and more. However, symptoms of a canine cold, seasonal allergies, tumors, masses, nasal mites and foreign bodies stuck in the airway can all cause a dog to reverse sneeze. 

When to Seek Help

Even after you’ve tried calming your dog by gently rubbing their throat and neck, or offering them a drink of fresh water, they may still continue with the honking sounds. Generally speaking, most reverse sneezes resolve themselves. However, if they stop reverse sneezing only to start up again with increased frequency or intensity, it is definitely worth looking into. 

Let Us Know

On occasional reverse sneeze may simply be part of your dog’s defense against irritants. If it gets worse over time, we urge you to reach out to us at Wheaton Animal Hospital. Left alone, some nasal problems will get worse with time – certain respiratory illnesses can be contagious to other animals in the house or when you go to public places.

Don’t Wait, Too Late

While most reverse sneezing episodes resolve on their own, these symptoms can be indicative of larger problems requiring attention. It is never fun to jump to frightening conclusions about your dog’s health, but when symptoms linger, the following respiratory issues are often connected to the reverse sneeze:

  • Upper respiratory infection
  • Collapsed trachea
  • Heart disease
  • Brachycephalic syndrome
  • Asthma

The Pet Experts are always here to help you make informed decisions about your dog’s wellness. Even if you have the slightest doubt about their health, we encourage you to contact us with any questions or concerns.