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What is reverse sneezing?

Reverse sneezing is a common sight with many dogs that owners often mistake for a serious condition.


Reverse sneezing, also known as paroxysmal respiration, is a common condition in dogs that can be disturbing to owners unfamiliar with it. It can appear to be gagging or choking depending on the dog.


Why does reverse sneezing happen? When a dog regularly sneezes, he pushes air out through the nose. In a reverse sneeze, a dog will pull air into his nose rapidly instead. You may also see the dog putting his head down.

With this condition, the dog rapidly pulls air into the nose, whereas in a 'regular' sneeze, the air is rapidly pushed through the nose. The dog makes a snorting sound and seems to be trying to inhale while sneezing. Some examples of reverse sneezing can be seen here and here. Veterinarians aren't sure exactly what causes it, although environmental factors can make it worse, such as allergies or strong unpleasant smells, as well as infections, mites, a cleft palate, or dental disease. It also appears to be found more often among dogs with long noses with more narrow nasal passages.

If you view your dog making sneezing or gagging noises, you definitely should see your veterinarian so he or she can diagnose the condition and make sure it's not something more serious, such a respiratory disease. If your vet determines that your dog is reverse sneezing, there is no specific treatment for it, and usually the condition will pass within a minute. If your dog seems distressed, you can pet him and help him to be more comfortable while the reverse sneeze occurs. If the problem is chronic, your veterinarian may prescribe a medication such as a decongestant or antihistamines.

Sources: http://www.vcahospitals.com/main/pet-health-information/article/animal-health/reverse-sneeze-in-dogs/921, http://www.petmd.com/print/246

Photo credit: Puppy Ears :) via photopin (license)

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