Learn The Facts About Your Dog’s Reverse Sneezing

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Dogs are weird! They smell strange smells, they get excited by strange things, and they make weird noises. From snoring and barking to all the funny little noises they make when you’ve got a treat in your hands, dogs have a whole charcuterie board of sounds that they can make, but not all of them are good. We all know the fear of hearing that preemptive hacking in the middle of the night or that slimy gag that comes afterward!But, what about reverse sneezing? Have you ever heard your dog doing it?

Keep scrolling to learn more about reverse sneezing in dogs!

All About Reverse Sneezing in Dogs

Let’s start with the basics!

What Is Reverse Sneezing?

Clinically, reverse sneezing is called “paroxysmal respiration”, which is a very fancy way to say that a pup gets a little confused when they need to sneeze. Veterinary doctors Krista Williams and Ernest Ward classify the condition as “rapidly pulling air into the nose” rather than blowing out.

Sometimes dogs reverse sneezing sounds sort of like gagging, or gasping for air through the nose. 

Close-up portrait cute dog puppy pug with saliva and snot

What Does Reverse Sneezing Sound Like?

If you snort as if snoring, you’ve done a good job of replicating what a reverse sneeze sounds like. Dogs will often have fits of reverse sneezes, during which they repeat their “sneeze” a few times.

Check out this reverse sneeze dog video of a dog having a reverse sneezing episode, courtesy of Village Animal Clinic.

What Causes Reverse Sneezing in Dogs?

We don’t really know why some dogs’ sneezes get inverted and others don’t. All we know is that it is caused by the same triggers as a normal sneeze, such as:

  • Dry or dusty conditions
  • Irritation in the nasal passages or throat
  • Pollen
  • Seasonal allergies

Dogs with long, narrow snouts are more prone to reverse sneezing. Again, we don’t know why this is. What we do know is that longer nasal passages seem to be linked to more frequent bouts of reverse sneezing.

How To Treat Reverse Sneezing in Dogs

While the loud snorting noises that come from reverse sneezes may be alarming, they aren’t dangerous! A reverse sneeze is like a regular sneeze, and no additional intervention is usually needed.

However, if you want to help your pup, it’s okay to offer reassurance. Gentle strokes and reassuring words can help calm a dog down during a reverse sneezing episode, which may help it end more quickly.

Owner petting/calming their dog

If these attacks happen frequently, you may want to call your veterinarian. They may be a sign of an allergy or infection, and your trusty vet will be able to prescribe medicine to treat the underlying cause.

Reverse Sneezing in Small Dogs

Because reverse sneezing can happen with any dog, it’s not uncommon to see a small dog having a reverse sneezing episode. When this occurs, it should be treated like any other episode.

When small dogs start reverse sneezing, it will sound a lot like a larger dog’s reverse sneeze. Check out the reverse sneeze dog video to see what a smaller pup will look and sound like during a reverse sneezing episode.

Dogs Reverse Sneezing: The FAQ

dog reverse sneezing

Now that we’ve talked about what reverse sneezing is and how it happens, let’s address some of the most common questions about reverse sneezing in dogs.

Dog Reverse Sneezing after Drinking Water

Dogs may sneeze after drinking water if they are excited or drinking too fast.

This is nothing to worry about, and it is a very common cause of reverse sneezing episodes in dogs. Eating too quickly is also likely to cause a reverse sneezing fit.

Dog Reverse Sneeze and COVID

Your pup’s reverse sneezing episode likely isn’t due to COVID, but it is possible!

Most of the time, a dog will sneeze due to an allergen or irritant. Excessive dust, seasonal pollens, loose grass, and sand are just some of the reasons that your pup may be sneezing. However, if your pup’s sneezing is frequent, it’s time to take them to a veterinarian. While it’s unlikely to be COVID, your pup may be suffering from easily treatable allergies or some other infection.

Dog Reverse Sneezing at Night

Reverse sneezes can happen at any time of the day or night.

Whenever your pup encounters a trigger, they’ll sneeze. Much like a tickle in the back of your throat will make you cough, an itch in your pup’s snout will make them sneeze. If sneezing episodes are frequent and disruptive, taking your dog to the vet is the best course of action.

Dog Reverse Sneezing After Swimming

A dog might reverse sneeze after swimming for a few reasons. If your dog gets super excited when they swim, they could be reverse sneezing from over-stimulation. This is particularly common with brachycephalic dogs. 

Another reason a dog might reverse sneeze after they swim is that they have gotten a small amount of water in their nasal passages. Mildly irritating and itchy, this is the most common reason a dog will reverse sneeze after swimming. 

Is Reverse Sneezing in Dogs Dangerous?

Reverse sneezing is not dangerous, nor is it something you should worry too much about.

It is definitely an unsettling sound to hear, no doubt about that! Fortunately, all of that noise is nothing to fret about. Your dog’s reverse sneezes are natural, and their episode will end once they remember to exhale instead of sucking air in. The average sneezing fit will last up to a minute, although some episodes may last longer.

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If an episode goes on for what you feel is too long, then you can help your pup through the experience by providing gentle encouragement. Stroking their neck helps calm them, and it may remind them to breathe out.

Why is My Dog Making a Huffing Sound?

Some dogs make a huffing sound when they reverse sneeze, but huffing on its own can be a symptom of something else. Huffing sounds almost like a cough combined with a choking/gagging noise. It can be alarming but typically resolves after a few huffs and is rarely a sign of something serious. 

Some reasons your dog could be making a huffing sound include:
-Exercise intolerance or over-exertion
-Allergies or environmental irritants
-Eating or drinking too quickly

Why is My Dog Reverse Sneezing So Much?

If your dog is frequently sneezing, it’s time to visit the vet!

While many of the causes are minor, there can be some serious conditions causing your pup’s sneezing. One of these is congestive heart failure, which requires prompt treatment, so consult with your vet!

Did you learn something about reverse sneezing? We hope so!

Can Reverse Sneezing Kill a Dog?

No, reverse sneezing itself cannot kill a dog. The act of reverse sneezing typically is a reaction to discomfort or environmental factors and is not dangerous in and of itself. 

In some rare cases, reverse sneezing can be a sign of a serious underlying condition. If your dog reverse sneezes often, consult with your veterinarian.

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