If you’re a first-time dog owner, you’ve probably been quite upset by the loud, sudden noises that most experienced dog owners know as reverse sneezing. Definitely a scary-sounding phenomenon, but reverse sneezing in dogs is not nearly as bad as you might fear. Even with that said, it’s a good idea to learn about reverse sneezing so that you can learn how to better help your dog when he or she starts this behavior.
What is Reverse Sneezing
Reverse sneezing, also known as backward sneezing, is actually a behavior that occurs due to irritations in your dog’s mouth. If your dog’s soft palette becomes irritated, it will begin to spasm. When that occurs, your dog’s trachea will narrow and your dog will then need to extend his or her neck in order to breathe. Unfortunately, that same narrowed trachea makes it harder for your dog to get a full breath.
So, what does your dog do? He or she will try to breathe through his or her nose. It’s that action that dog owners have come to know like the reverse sneeze.
What Does it Sound Like When a Dog Reverse Sneezes?
If you’ve never heard a dog have episodes of reverse sneezing, you’ll probably be surprised. Many people describe this sound like a dog trying to inhale a sneeze – it’s a loud sound that sounds halfway between a snort and a snore, with the closest analog being a honking goose.
Given the noise, it’s entirely natural that many new dog owners would get scared. After all, it’s loud and very unpleasant. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking your dog to the vet to see if there’s a problem, even though most vets will let you know that there’s nothing to worry about.
How Long Does A Reverse Sneeze Usually Last?
Most dog owners will tell you that reverse sneezing episode will last an eternity. The truth, though, is that it will usually only last about thirty seconds. Those are, however, usually thirty very long, very loud seconds.
What Causes Reverse Sneezing?
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so you might wonder what you can do to stop the conditions that cause reverse sneezing. To do that, though, you’ll have to figure out what causes the sneezing in the first place.
When dogs sneeze, they’re trying to expel something that’s in their nose or in their nasal cavity. When they cough, they’re trying to do the same but with irritants in their trachea. Reverse sneezing is just the next step along the process, as the dog is trying to get rid of something that’s farther down the same general tract.
There are many things that can cause a dog to reverse sneeze. Your dog might sneeze because of an allergen in the air, because he or she pulled on his or her leash too hard, or even because he or she got too excited. Your dog could also reverse sneeze because he or she got something in his or her throat, or even because he or she was eating or drinking too quickly.
What Do You Do About Reverse Sneezing?
In most cases, you don’t have to do anything about reverse sneezing. It will run its course in about a minute, after all. If it does happen frequently, though, there are steps that you can take.
If your dog has been reverse sneezing frequently, you should definitely see your vet as soon as possible. Your vet will want to look to see if there are any underlying problems and to figure out if there’s something more serious going on. While most reverse sneezing is harmless, it’s never a bad idea to get a professional opinion on the matter.
How to Stop Reverse Sneezing at Home
It’s also a good idea to figure out a way to help your dog if he or she gets a bad case of reverse sneezes. Some would say that the first thing to do is to cover your dog’s nostrils, which will make him or her swallow whatever irritant is causing the attack. Others swear by massaging your dog’s throat, which is meant to do the same thing. In truth, though, the best thing you can do is to just wait it out.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How do I get my dog to stop reverse sneezing?
The best thing you can do is to just wait for about thirty seconds – that’s the length of the average attack. If you can’t wait that long, you can try to either massage your dog’s throat or cover his or her nostrils. This should cause your dog to swallow and thus get rid of whatever irritant is causing the attack.
2. Should I take my dog to the vet for reverse sneezing?
You should take your dog to the vet if he or she reverse sneezes frequently or if you think that your dog is choking. If this is a one-time issue, though, you probably won’t need to see the vet. The best thing you can do for your dog is to monitor him or her and to see if he or she goes back to normal after the reverse sneezing attack is over.
3. Can reverse sneezing kill a dog?
No, it cannot. If this is true reverse sneezing, you really don’t have anything about which you need to worry about. As scary as it can be to hear your dog make this kind of sound, it’s ultimately quite harmless. With that said, reverse sneezing can be mistaken for choking, which can kill a dog. As such, you need to monitor your dog carefully to make sure that he or she is just sneezing and not choking.
4. Can I give my dog Benadryl for reverse sneezing?
Benadryl will only do your dog good if he or she is having an allergic reaction. In most cases, reverse sneezing isn’t caused by allergens and thus won’t be impacted by Benadryl. Also, most attacks are less than one minute long and won’t be affected by any kind of drug. If your dog does seem to be allergic and the reverse sneezing does seem to be because of allergies, though, you can talk with your vet about proper Benadryl dosage for dogs.