Have you ever noticed your dog having a brief fit of reverse sneezing? This is one of those strange things that most folk will recognise in their dogs once it’s explained, they probably didn’t realise beforehand that it was called reverse sneezing. And basically it literally looks as if your dog is inhaling a sneeze, and it’s very worrying, if you notice it for the first time. Basically the dog inhales sharply over and over extending their neck and expanding their chest, and it could be quiet loud, a lot of people panic and rush to the vet, thinking their dog is choking, but luckily, there’s usually nothing at all to worry about and in most cases it doesn’t need treatment, and it subsides after few minutes. So, why does it happen to dogs? First of all, what does it look like? I’ll show what it looks like. It’s kind of like this, it’s kind of (Dog reverse sneezing imitation) That’s what dogs do, and I remember my own dog used to do it. My first dog called Shiba she was a lovely Golden Retreiver, what she used to do, it was when she was excited and when we saw her so maybe first thing in the morning, she would walk
around the room, delighted to see us, wagging her tail and going (reverse sneezing) like that. So, you could see that, if it happened to your dog and you weren’t expecting it, you might get really quite concerned. So, what is the cause of it, is the question. Basically, it’s usually some sort of irritation of the dog’s soft palete or throat, the tissues in the back throat here, and this causes those areas to go into a little bit of a spasm,
and things that can cause it to get a little bit irritated would be excitement, as with my dog Shiba, overexertion, so sometimes after exercise, sometimes after eating and drinking, the particles of food or water irritate the back of the throat. other direct irritants like household chemicals, maybe pollens, or even just pulling on the leash too hard… All of these things can stimulate a little irritation and then getting the reverse sneeze reaction And it is much more common in some breeds, for example those with flat faces, known as Brachycephalic breeds. Dogs like pugs and boxers because all the tissues in the back of their throat are a little bit scrunched up so they’re a little more prone to be irritated. It’s also common in just generally smaller dogs. So, what should you do if it happens? Because I have to say sometimes, dogs don’t seem bothered at all, like my dog Shiba, it’s just part of her personality to us. But other times dogs
can seem quite distressed by it. so if your dog seems distressed by it, and if it’s carrying on repeatedly, what can you do about it? Well, sometimes just gently massaging
the dog’s throat, can help a little bit, literally rubbing them like this and talking to them to calm them down. Other times what you can do is you can just gently pinch their nostrils just to close the nose, so instead of breathing through their nose, they have to open their mouth and breath through their mouth and the act of breathing through their mouth just realignes the tissues at the back of the throat and stops reverse sneezing. Another thing you might do is just take your dog outside and sometimes the change of atmosphere, the change of air is enough to help get brings back to normal. Basically in most cases, it just does get better by itself and that’s the end of it. Now, there are those very rare occasions where reverse sneezing can happen so much that it actually starts to bother the dog’s quality of life and that’s because, you know, there are sometimes more
complex causes of this, for example, if you have a dog like a Pug perhaps where the breathing paths at the back of throat are anatomtically so constricted, that it just keeps happening all the time or another dog might inhale something like a grass seed that could get stuck at the back of throat and cause continued irritation. So if your dog is reverses sneezing to a much increased extent, to the level where you think it’s really bothering your dog, then you should definitely take them to the vet, and the vet will check them out and, you know, very rarely, there might be some other procedures necessary, like an anasthetic to inspect the area or, in radical cases possibly even sort of surgery. But those situations are really really rare and in most cases, reverse sneezing is just, like my dog Shiba, an idiosyncrasy of your dog, and the funny thing is that I actually used to like it. To me it was a sign that my dog Shiba was relaxed and happy to see us.