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Reverse Sneezing in Dogs: What is It and Should I Be Concerned?

shutterstock_70003225Many of us know that sound all too well…it sounds like a sea lion is sitting in your living room singing the song of its people…or, species, if you will. While reverse sneezing certainly sounds slightly alien, it’s a common dog problem. It can be pretty startling if you’ve never seen it before, or even if you have, but is it really cause for concern?

What is Reverse Sneezing?

Reverse sneezing is the common name for pharyngeal gag reflux. It’s called reverse sneezing because of the well-known honking noise resembles exactly that – a sneeze your dog is inhaling instead of exhaling. Pharyngeal gag reflux is caused by irritation and spasms of the soft palate and throat. The causes of that irritation,  however, vary greatly and include allergies, mites, excitement, eating and drinking, leash pressure on the throat, foreign bodies in the throat, and viruses.

Should I Be Concerned?

Not necessarily. Most reverse sneezing doesn’t require any medical attention, although it can look and sound fairly alarming. The episodes usually stop by themselves, which means the spasms stop by themselves. Sometimes it’s helpful to massage the dog’s throat or cover his nostrils to try and get him swallowing. Swallowing will help eliminate any current irritants in the throat that may be causing the spasms.

If the problem is chronic and persistent, working with your veterinarian to determine what causes the irritation can be beneficial. Sometimes treatment for allergies or mites will reduce reverse sneezing episodes. Oftentimes, extensive testing, such as biopsies, is needed to try and discover the root of the problem. Unfortunately, there still might be no answer. Sometimes we will never know the cause. Even still, there is generally little cause for concern with the pesky little episodes. Just another quirk some of our dogs have!

Video Example of Dog Reverse Sneezing



About the Author

Katie is a professional dog trainer located in Southern California, with a background of experience as a veterinary assistant as well. She has trained and competed with multiple breeds in AKC Obedience and Rally, agility, herding, Schutzhund/IPO, French Ring and conformation. She has been involved in dogs since she was a child, and specializes in protection dogs, working dogs, and aggression issues. You can visit her website, Katie’s Dog Training, to find out more information about her training and accomplishments. When she’s not helping others and writing, she’s out on the field with her Belgian Malinois and Pembroke Welsh Corgi.


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