Reverse Sneezing in Dogs: Causes and What to Do

Have you ever heard of reverse sneezing? This condition can occur in dogs and cats, but it is more commonly found in dogs. If your dog has recently been diagnosed with reverse sneezing, or if they’re making a strange noise you can’t quite figure out, you might be looking for more information.

In this article, you’ll find basic information about what causes reverse sneezing and what you can do about it. Read on to find out more. If you have any questions, call Lake City Animal Hospital at (386) 755-0236.

reverse sneezing in dogs in lake city, fl

What is Reverse Sneezing?

Reverse sneezing is the common name for a condition called paroxysmal respiration. In this condition, dogs rapidly suck air in instead of blowing it out—making it effectively the opposite of a sneeze.

Some dog owners only recognize this problem because of the honking sound associated with it. Others may think their dog is having trouble trying to breathe while sneezing, when in reality, they are probably reverse sneezing instead. Either way, the first time you see your dog do this, it can be very alarming and may make you think they’re struggling to breathe.


There is no specific known cause of reverse sneezing in dogs. However, there are many conditions that can exacerbate reverse sneezing, even if they aren’t the original cause of the condition. Allergies to pollen and plants are some of the most common triggers for reverse sneezing episodes. Instead of sneezing as a response to these environmental factors, dogs may reverse sneeze.

Nasal mites can also sometimes be a contributing factor in reverse sneezing. If you think your dog could have nasal mites, you’ll need to work with your veterinarian to figure out the best course of treatment.

Dogs who have long snouts are more prone to developing reverse sneezing than other dogs. However, any dog can potentially suffer from this problem, either once or as part of a chronic reverse sneezing condition.

Your vet will need to examine your dog to make sure the reverse sneezing isn’t related to a severe underlying condition such as collapsing trachea, nasal tumors, or other similar problems. If all of these severe conditions are ruled out, the vet may diagnose your dog with reverse sneezing of an unknown cause.

How to Help

There really isn’t anything you need to do if your dog is dealing with reverse sneezing. These episodes, just like a bout of regular sneezing, will come and go without any issues for the most part. If your dog seems to be distressed by these episodes, you can gently pet him to help soothe him. Don’t pet his face or snout, as he needs to be able to get through the sneezing episode. Otherwise, however, gentle petting is a good way to make sure your dog remains calm and doesn’t panic during reverse sneezing.

Other than petting your dog, you will simply need to wait out the episode. Most dogs will not suffer from reverse sneezing for more than a minute or so.

If this is the first time your dog has suffered from an attack of reverse sneezing, you should take them to the vet. This is not really because the vet can do anything to help, but instead because you need to rule out other conditions.  If your vet diagnoses your dog with reverse sneezing, you don’t need to keep taking them back to the vet every time the problem resurfaces. Just know that this will be a part of your life with your dog moving forward.

If your dog deals with reverse sneezing very often, your vet may prescribe antihistamines to help. This is not a very common treatment for reverse sneezing, however, so if your vet doesn’t recommend medication for your dog, don’t worry. This simply means the reverse sneezing isn’t serious enough for your dog to need medication to help. Antihistamines may also be given if allergies are a major contributing factor for your dog’s reverse sneezing. Similarly, they may be prescribed a decongestant for the same kind of reason. Talk to your vet if you have any questions or concerns about whether or not your dog needs a medication like this.

As you can see, reverse sneezing itself isn’t too serious. However, since it can sometimes be associated with other conditions, it’s important to have your dog checked out by their vet to figure out what’s going on. The vet can also give you more thorough information about how to help your dog and can tell you about any other concerns you might need to pay attention to as well. Call us today at (386) 755-0236.

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