Pet Trivia: Do You Know What a Reverse Sneeze Is?

A dog sneezes against a dark blue background.

Dogs do some pretty weird stuff from time to time, but most of their canine behaviors are recognizable and shrugged off as “normal”. The odd or uncharacteristic noise of a reverse sneeze, though,  can sound downright alarming. 

Based on the sounds they’re making, you might think your dog is choking or unable to breath, but with a reverse sneeze that is rarely the case. While a pet experiencing a reverse sneeze might not need emergency care, there are things you can do at home to ease the process. 

A Honk and a Wheeze

First things first. When a dog experiences a reverse sneeze they are not in danger. In most cases, reverse sneezes are harmless. But we know that doesn’t necessarily make it less frightening to witness.

The more you know about the reverse sneeze the better prepared you are to handle it if your dog ever starts to make the tell-tale noises. Known as a paroxysmal respiration, or pharyngeal gag reflex, a reverse sneeze pulls air in rather forcefully through the nose. In direct contrast to a regular sneeze (when air is forced out through the nose), a reverse sneeze rapidly brings air in

What’s Happening?!

Upon hearing and seeing a reverse sneeze, dog owners inexperienced with this phenomena may fear asthma, choking, allergic reaction, or even a seizure. A reverse sneeze makes a dog stiffen and extend their neck, while quickly inhaling through the nose. They may honk, weeze, or make gagging noises. 

A reverse sneeze may last several long seconds, and are typically harmless if they happen infrequently. Your dog should be examined if occurrences become more regular and are accompanied with discharge, blood, constant coughing, rubbing at the nose or face, appetite changes, lethargy, and fever.

The Reverse Sneeze

Your dog could be reverse sneezing to relieve irritation, blockages, or allergens. Some breeds, such as pugs, bull dogs, and other flat-faced dogs, may be more susceptible to reverse sneezes.  

When it happens, stay calm. Offer your dog some water to drink, or try to press down softly on their tongue. You can also try raising and lowering the head while stroking their throat to get the sneeze to pass.

Normal Or Not

If you have questions about the reverse sneeze or need help addressing your dog’s behavior, our staff is always here for you at All Creatures Veterinary Hospital of Brooklyn