How to Tell if a Dog Is Reverse Sneezing

By Naomi Millburn

Reverse sneezing is a relatively common canine condition that's rarely a cause for concern. When dogs reverse sneeze, they swiftly draw air inside their noses. Reverse sneezes are thought to be triggered by short-term spasms that involve the larynx muscles. Reverse sneezing has a pretty distinctive sound -- but another issue, one that's quite serious, sounds a lot like it. For your pet's welfare, consult your vet.

The Sound of Reverse Sneezing

If you're shocked because your pet seems like he's having difficulties catching his breath, then reverse sneezing could be the culprit. If your dog is in the midst of a reverse sneezing episode, he'll make a noisy sound that's reminiscent of snorting. This sound is a result of your dog's intense efforts to push in air. If you hear this snorting sound a few times in a row, your dog is probably reverse sneezing.

When dogs have reverse sneezing episodes, they typically act completely fine, healthy and calm as soon as they're done. Reverse sneezing generally is innocuous to dogs. It's good to let the vet do an exam, but there's nothing you can do for the dog in the midst of a fit. Resist the urge to pat his sides.

The Look of Reverse Sneezing

Observe your dog when he's in the throes of a honking fit. When dogs reverse sneeze, they usually stand completely still while holding out their necks and heads. They maintain this stance while they're in the middle of lengthy and fast inspirations. Some dogs reverse sneeze for just a few seconds at a time. Others reverse sneeze for a maximum of a minute.

Consider the Possible Causes

If you're trying to figure out whether or not your pooch is reverse sneezing, consider the possible causes of the condition. One might apply to him. Some things that cause reverse sneezing in dogs include running, rapid water consumption, rapid eating, leash pulling, feelings of excitement and exhilaration, collar pressure, postnasal drip and allergies. If any of those factors could potentially apply to your dog, the things you're seeing and hearing him do could signify classic reverse sneezing.

Environmental scents, such as fragrances, potpourri and smoke, also sometimes trigger reverse sneezing. Note that some dogs experience more frequent reverse sneezing as they get older.

Consider Your Pet's Breed

Your pet's breed maters. Reverse sneezing is particularly prevalent in beagles and corgis. The condition is in no way limited to just those breeds. Dogs with long muzzles are vulnerable to reverse sneezing.

It's important to never make assumptions about reverse sneezing. If your dog is a brachycephalic breed, what you suspect is reverse sneezing could actually indicate a potential respiratory issue. If this is the case, your dog will likely display other signs of breathing difficulty. Some examples of brachycephalic breeds include Cavalier King Charles spaniels, boxers, bulldogs, Japanese chins, Tibetan spaniels and pugs.

Brachycephalic breeds are prone to tracheal collapse, a degenerative condition that affects dogs' cartilaginous rings and causes a snorting or honking sound and coughing. The condition requires a veterinarian's attention and could require surgery.

Veterinary Attention

If your pet's reverse sneezing doesn't cease quickly and he falls to the ground, contact your veterinarian immediately for emergency care. The symptoms could be the result of a foreign item located in his larynx. They could be the result of various nasopharyngeal and nasal disorders.

If you spot your pet reverse sneezing, try to get the incident on video. This can be very helpful for your veterinarian. Video evidence can help your vet determine whether or not your dog was actually reverse sneezing.