What Is it When a Canine Has a Reverse Sneeze?

by Naomi Millburn
    Reverse sneezing is prevalent in the pug world.

    Reverse sneezing is prevalent in the pug world.

    George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images

    Although the idea of "reverse sneezing" in dogs might sound a little confusing and strange, it actually happens more often than you might think. Reverse sneezing, simply put, entails the action of quickly transporting air inside of the nose, rather than expelling it outward, as with a traditional sneeze. Inspiratory paroxysmal respiration is another name for this.

    When your pooch normally sneezes, he ejects air. Reverse sneezing is the polar opposite and is actually the drawing in of air. If you hear your dog seemingly out of nowhere making conspicuous loud panting sounds that are somewhat reminiscent to those of human asthmatic episodes, he might be reverse sneezing. You might observe other hints of the behavior, including rapidly pointing the head down, protruding eyes and a totally shut mouth. Reverse sneezing usually takes no longer than roughly two minutes, and oftentimes less than that.

    Reverse or "backward" sneezing, in the bulk of cases, is innocuous and no cause for panic, just as standard sneezing usually isn't. The goal of reverse sneezing usually is to banish irritating substances, similarly to traditional sneezes. The specific reasons for reverse sneezing are uncertain, but are possibly related to irritating substances or allergies, whether due to overly strong fragrances, cigarettes, pollen or dust. Some canines even experience reverse sneezing after mealtimes, physical activity or tugging on their leashes. If you have any concerns regarding your pet's reverse sneezing, take him to the veterinarian as soon as possible, especially if the action shows up alongside any other worrying symptoms. Reverse sneezing also calls for immediate vet help if it's excessive or worsens in intensity.

    A veterinarian can analyze what's going on with your pet's situation through checking for other issues that frequently bring upon breathing difficulties in canines -- think tracheal collapse, for example. Allergy examinations, among other tests, are also frequently employed for these determinations. If it turns out that your pet is indeed reverse sneezing, he might not need any form of management. Veterinarians occasionally attempt to ease their doggie patients' reverse sneezing discomforts through antihistamines and medicines that decrease inflammation. Your vet can inform you of exactly what your pet needs to handle the reverse sneezing, if anything.

    Reverse sneezing is a possibility in all canines, regardless of their specific breed. It is a tad more common in tiny brachycephalic -- "short-headed" -- pooches such as shih tzus, however. Although relatively rare, felines sometimes even partake in reverse sneezing, which sometimes indicates asthma -- and therefore a need to visit the vet, pronto.

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    About the Author

    Naomi Millburn has been a freelance writer since 2011. Her areas of writing expertise include arts and crafts, literature, linguistics, traveling, fashion and European and East Asian cultures. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American literature from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.

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