Breaking Down the Reverse Sneeze

Breaking Down the Reverse Sneeze

Breaking Down the Reverse Sneeze

A reverse sneeze, or paroxysmal respiration, occurs when your dog pulls air quickly in through the nose, as opposed to pushing it out like with a regular sneeze. This is often the result of an irritant affecting the nasopharynx, which is located at the back of the throat. Just as humans cough when they have a tickle in the throat, dogs will stretch out their necks, raise their heads, and take a deep breath to try to remove the offending invader. Since the nasopharynx is located behind the nasal passages and above the soft palate, these actions can result in a very unusual sound.


Although the exact cause of the reverse sneeze is unknown, there are certain irritants that seem to bring it on, including:

  • Seasonal allergens (like pollen or certain grasses)

  • Smoke

  • Odors

  • Eating or drinking too fast

  • Pulling on the leash

  • Respiratory illness

  • Long noses (certain breeds are more susceptible to reverse sneezing)

If you feel like your dog is excessively reverse sneezing, schedule a wellness check with your veterinarian to make sure no other factors are contributing to it.

Is It Dangerous?

In most cases, a reverse sneeze is completely harmless and does not even require medical attention. Don’t be alarmed if your dog is still reverse sneezing for as much as sixty seconds. As long as he is able to take a regular breath once the episode has passed, there is nothing to worry about. Although there is nothing you can do to help the reverse sneeze until it passes, you can gently rub your dog’s neck to help her relax until she’s back to normal.

Whether your dog is repeatedly reverse sneezing or it’s time for the next round of vaccines for your cat, the staff at The Pet’s Place Animal Hospital is here to help you give your furry friends the best veterinary care in Riverside. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, please call (951) 684-2181.

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