Reverse Sneeze in Dogs - Paroxysmal Respiration

Have you seen your dog suddenly stop, extend their neck, and make a loud snorting sound? If so, you may have just seen a reverse sneeze or paroxysmal respiration. Although witnessing a reverse sneeze in dogs can be alarming it is common in small dogs. Our Jacksonville vets explain more.

Paroxysmal Respiration & Your Dog

So what is a reverse sneeze in dogs? Paroxysmal respiration, or reverse sneezing as it is more commonly called, is a condition that causes the dog to rapidly pull air in through the nose producing a loud snorting sound. In fact, it sounds a bit like your dog is trying to take a deep breath in while sneezing at the same time.

When a dog does a reverse sneeze they typically raise their head, extend their neck, and make a loud snorting noise. Most reverse sneezing episodes last for less than a minute but can be frightening for pet parents, and alarming for the pet.

Causes of Reverse Sneeze in Small Dogs

Reverse sneezing is believed to be caused by inflammation or irritation of the nasal, pharyngeal, or sinus passages, and could be the dog's attempt at removing the irritant causing the issue. Some irritants believed to trigger the reverse sneezing reflex in dogs include dust, nasal mites, seeds, grass, pollen and smoke or conditions such as masses or an elongated soft palate.

In some cases, dogs may also begin to reverse sneeze when over-excited.

When To Be Concerned About Reverse Sneezing in Dogs

For most dogs, the reverse sneeze is nothing to be overly concerned about. The sneezing usually only occurs for less than a minute and dogs return to their activities afterward. There are no health repercussions from it and your dog will probably just shake it off like nothing happened.

There are some signs, though, that may point to an underlying health problem. If your dog has suddenly developed reverse sneezing, it’s always a good idea to have them examined by your veterinarian, just to determine the right diagnosis.

Some symptoms that can point to other conditions like asthma, heart disease, and tracheal collapse include:

  • Labored breathing
  • Ongoing, consistent cough
  • Frequent wheezing
  • Panting without exercise
  • Open-mouthed breathing
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of interest in exercise
  • Pale or blue gums

All of the above symptoms deserve further investigation, if your dog is displaying one or more of these symptoms contact your vet right away to book an examination for your dog.

How To Help Your Dog When They Reverse Sneeze

Once your dog has been examined and given a clean bill of health from your vet, there are a few things you can do to help ease your pet through these scary episodes. 

  • Stay calm and upbeat, to help your dog’s anxiety and stress.
  • Address any anxiety or fear your pet may be facing and keep them focused on enrichment toys and activities as a way to avoid anxiety or overexcitement.
  • Massage your pet’s throat to get them to swallow. This can sometimes help to stop the episode.
  • Gently lift their head up and then down.
  • Distract your pet with a toy, treat, or dinner.

We know that this condition can seem out of the ordinary, but for most otherwise healthy dogs it looks and sounds scarier than it actually is. 

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Contact us whenever your dog shows symptoms or behaviors that cause you concern. At Pet Doctors of America our Jacksonville vets are passionate about helping pets stay healthy and happy.