The first time an owner sees their dog struggling with a reverse sneeze, they may be terrified if they don’t know what it is. Also called a reverse sneeze, the air is sucked in by the dog rather than violently escaping, which seems to be almost suffocating, but this is a normal reaction. When pets sneeze, they generally stand up, extend their head and neck, spread their legs, and inhale repeatedly and forcefully through the nose. Each time they inhale, a loud sound is heard, like a rattle. Typically, a pet will sneeze a couple of times in a row, and the entire episode will end in about 10 to 15 seconds, but there are cases where it can take a couple of minutes. Reverse sneezing occurs more often in brachycephalic, flat-faced dogs ( Chihuahua, Shitzu, Boxer, English and French Bulldog, pug )
Why does the dog do the reverse sneeze?
Reverse sneezing and “regular” sneezing are related reflexes. The purpose of both is to expel an irritant from the upper respiratory tract. Reverse sneezing could be due to irritation of the nasopharynx, the area behind the nasal passages, and above the soft palate. Any of these areas can be stimulated by the irritant (smoke, dust, foreign bodies, allergens) but can also occur if the dog eats or drinks too quickly and voraciously or when he fidgets or pulls too much on the collar. Don’t panic – the occasional episode of reverse sneezing is perfectly normal. We are not dealing with pathology, but if the attacks reproduce frequently, it is good to note them because, for example, the dog may be allergic to something. Other causes could be polyps or throat thickening. To exclude them, it is advisable to contact the veterinarian.
What to do in case of reverse sneezing
The episodes are self-limiting and tend towards spontaneous normalization. Therefore no specific pharmacological treatment is required. However, you can help the dog to limit the phenomenon as much as possible. This is the maneuver: the neck must be extended upwards, and his throat massaged, or his nostrils can be closed to force him to breathe with his mouth. In some cases, it can be helpful to take the dog out into the fresh air.