It’s a lovely day to take Charlie for a walk – the sun is shining, the grass is green, and he basically has the whole dog park to himself. Just as soon as you are about to let your playful pup off the leash, he makes this strange snort-sneeze sound that lasts about a minute. It’s enough to send you into a panic. What was this sound that Charlie made? Is it normal?
Keep reading to find out all you need to know about reverse sneezing.
What is a reverse sneeze?
A normal sneeze is when something tickles the nose, and air is rapidly sent through the nose to help alleviate the irritant.
Reverse sneezing is just the opposite – air is rapidly forced in through the nose. It’s sort of like when you laugh too hard and start snorting. In medical terms, reverse sneezing is called paroxysmal respiration.
If you’re not sure if your dog’s strange sounds are a reverse sneeze, watch this video. Does this look and sound like what your dog does?
What causes reverse sneezing?
Regular sneezing and reverse sneezing in dogs are similar, as both are the result of eliminating an irritant. The difference between the two is that regular sneezing is caused by some sort of irritation in the nasal passages, and reverse sneezing is more about an irritation in the area between the soft pallet and the nasal cavity called the nasopharynx.
Both types of sneezing can be the outcome of allergies, nasal mites, dust, or a foreign body such as a grass seed or a mass. Intranasal vaccines such as Bordetella for Kennel Cough can also cause irritation in the nasopharynx.
Is it harmful?
No, reverse sneezing is generally not harmful and is actually a completely normal act. Episodes can last anywhere from a few seconds to a minute. If your dog has drawn-out episodes on a regular basis, you should call your veterinarian.
If it is severe enough, your veterinarian may want to sedate your dog for further examination of their nasal pathways, soft pallet, and throat to make sure there is no foreign body or masses causing the reverse sneezing.
Radiographs or x-rays of your dog’s chest and trachea may also help find the root cause of the reverse sneezing. They also may prescribe an antihistamine for your dog to help.
What should you do?
Although it is a scary and extremely strange sound, reverse sneezing is a normal behavior for dogs. Usually, you just let the episode run its course. If other symptoms occur, such as an increased respiratory effort, mucous membranes or gums turn a blue or purple color, or the rapid snorting doesn’t stop, you should call a veterinarian for further treatment and diagnosis for the cause.
Although witnessing a reverse sneeze for the first time can be a heart-dropping terrifying experience, it’s a normal behavior in dogs. Charlie can keep on playing in the dog park for the rest of the day worry-free! If he continues to have the episodes, call your veterinarian for further investigation.
Sources: VCA Hospitals, PetMD
How do you know if your dog is in pain? Learn the signs here.