Reverse sneezing

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A pug reverse sneezing

Reverse sneezing (also called backwards sneezing or inspiratory paroxysmal respiration) is a phenomenon observed in dogs, particularly in those with brachycephalic skulls. It is a fairly common respiratory event in dogs, but is rarely seen in cats. Its exact cause is unknown but perhaps due to nasal, pharyngeal, or sinus irritation (such as an allergy), the dog's attempt to remove mucus, or from overexcitement.[1] It is characterized by rapid and repeated forced inhalation through nose, accompanied by snorting or gagging sounds. Though it may be distressing to the animal, it is not known to be harmful. Most dogs are completely normal before and after episodes, and most will have repeat episodes of reverse sneezing throughout their lives.

During a reverse sneeze, the dog will make rapid and long inhalations, stand still, and extend its head and neck. A loud snorting sound is produced.

Reverse sneezing also commonly occurs while the dog is asleep or immediately following a long nap. Other dogs may experience it following play, exercise, or meals. It can also happen by breathing in dust, although episodes are typically random. Though smaller dogs seem slightly more susceptible to reverse sneezing, any dog can develop it, regardless of size.

Differential diagnoses include tracheal collapse.[1]

A common remedy is to pinch the dog's nose and scratch its neck. Lightly blowing in its face may also help. The dog will swallow a couple of times and then stop the reverse sneezing. Additionally, calming the dog down by rubbing its sides or back also helps to end the episode more quickly. While most dogs do not require medication, antihistamines and steroids may help if the problem is serious, chronic, and allergy-related.


  1. ^ a b Klein, Dr Jerry; May 25, C. V. O.; May 25, 2021 | 2 Minutes; Minutes, 2021 | 2. "What Happens When a Dog Reverse Sneezes?". American Kennel Club. Retrieved 2021-10-26.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)

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