Reverse Sneeze, Canine

By Dr. Karen Burgess

What is a reverse sneeze?
A reverse sneeze is a sneeze, snort, gagging sound that some pets make for no apparent reason. Some owners may think their pet is choking while experiencing a reverse sneeze episode. Dogs will stand with their necks stretched and their chest will often heave but they do not appear to be in any real distress.

What causes reverse sneezing?
The exact cause of this process is not completely understood, but it is typically attributed to an irritation of the throat and/or soft palate that results in the subsequent spasm. Common contributing factors include allergic disease, excitement, irritants, pressure from a color, inhaled foreign material, and eating or drinking. Short-faced (brachycephalic), small breed, and overweight dogs may have more incidence of reverse sneezing. Rarely nasal mites are found in dogs that are reverse sneezing.

How are reverse sneezes treated?
No treatment is required. In some cases offering food or water may interrupt an episode. Offering a toy, command, or walk outside may also help. If the problem progresses additional diagnostics including scoping of the nose may be indicated.