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What is Reverse Sneezing?

Pharyngeal gag reflex, also known as reverse sneezing, is common in dogs, particularly smaller and short nosed dogs. Although this condition can seem very distressing when it is occurring , it is generally harmless and passes within just a minute or two. A veterinarian should be consulted however, if the condition starts occurring regularly in an older dog, begins to happen more intensely and frequently, or is joined by additional symptoms such as nasal discharge or additional coughing. This can help rule out other disorders which may not be as harmless.

Pharyngeal gag reflex, also known as reverse sneezing, is a spasming disorder that sounds alarming when it is occurring to your pet, but is usually harmless.

Reverse Sneezing Average Cost

From 544 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,000

Average Cost

$350

Symptoms of Reverse Sneezing in Dogs

Reverse sneezing, also known as pharyngeal gag reflex, can appear at first glance, quite a bit like an animal that is choking. Symptoms during an episode include an extended neck, and the dog gasps with an alarming snorting sound. The elbows are often turned out and their eyes bulge as they have difficulty getting air into the lungs due to the narrowing of the trachea. These symptoms usually clear up within about one to two minutes, with no ill effects. 

  • Gasping
  • Difficulty drawing air
  • Extended neck
  • Snorting

Types

Another condition that can appear to be quite similar to reverse sneezing is tracheal collapse. This disorder will have all of the same symptoms as the pharyngeal gag reflex, but may also exhibit additional symptoms of exercise intolerance, breathing that is labored even after an incident, and a bluish tinge to the gums and other mucous membranes. Tracheal collapse is a genetic disorder that is most common in Yorkshire terriers. It can occur at any age, although it is most often identified in canines around six to seven years old. If your dog is experiencing reverse sneezing on a regular basis a visit to the veterinarian is essential to rule out this and other conditions.

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Causes of Reverse Sneezing in Dogs

Reverse sneezing is not actually sneezing at all, but is a condition known as pharyngeal gag reflex. It is a spasm of the throat and nasal passages that is generally instigated by an irritation to either the throat or the soft palate. The type of irritations that can lead to an episode of reverse sneezing include:

  • Allergies 
  • Eating or drinking too fast
  • Foreign bodies
  • Mites
  • Pressure on throat (often from pulling on leash)
  • Viruses
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Diagnosis of Reverse Sneezing in Dogs

In the event that your dog’s symptoms are concerning enough to make an appointment with the veterinarian, then several tests will need to be done to confirm there are no underlying causes to the behavior. While the typical physical examination is being completed the examiner will also check the nasal passages, mouth, and throat areas thoroughly. A rhinoscopy, a procedure in which the examiner uses a speculum to allow them to look more deeply into the nasal passages may be completed in order to see if any mites, polyps, or tumors are present. 

A sample from the nasal passages may also be taken for biopsy in order to rule out nasal cancer. Information will be gathered about the duration and frequency of symptoms, as well as any concurrent medications that your pet is being given. Many veterinary professionals will ask for a video recording of an episode as well, to assist in the diagnosis.

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Treatment of Reverse Sneezing in Dogs

If an underlying cause such as allergies or mites is uncovered, that condition will need to be addressed to help reduce the frequency and intensity of the reverse sneezing episodes. Allergic reactions may be eased by taking antihistamines and any polyps or growths will need to be removed to allow for easier breathing. If the reverse sneezing is idiopathic, meaning that the cause is unknown, it may not require treatment.

Reverse sneezing, as chaotic and scary as it sounds for the minute or two that it is occurring, is usually harmless, and your dog will continue on his merry way as if nothing has happened. If your dog is having an episode, you can help shorten the duration of the attack by channeling the air through the mouth rather than through the spasming nasal passages. This can be done simply by closing off the nostrils with your hand for a few seconds and allowing your dog to breathe through his mouth instead.

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Recovery of Reverse Sneezing in Dogs

Certain dog breeds, particularly short-nosed breeds, are more likely to develop this disorder than others. This can include Bulldogs, Boxers, Pugs, Shih Tzus, and Boston Terriers. There are several steps you can take, to reduce or eliminate occurrences if you have a dog that is prone to pharyngeal gag reflex. These can include steps like: 

  • Buying bowls designed to slow down eating speeds
  • Put a soup can in the food bowl to slow down eating. 
  • Reducing levels of chaos and excitement in your dog’s environment
  • Reducing levels of dust and dander in the house.
  • Using a harness or halter lead on walks instead of a traditional collar
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Reverse Sneezing Average Cost

From 544 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,000

Average Cost

$350

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Reverse Sneezing Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Ask a Vet

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Local dog cross with german shepherd

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4 years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Noisy Breathing

My dog has been having reverse breathing for about 10 days and was having meals but for past 3 days is having high fever too ...104.5 degree celsius. What is the problem??? Should I get an x-ray of lungs

July 29, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Given your description of the signs, a pneumonia is possible, and an x-ray of your dog's chest would probably be a good idea. You're Veterinary and we'll be able to look at the x-rays, look at your dog, and see what might be going on. I hope that your dog feels better soon!

July 29, 2020

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Gibong

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pom-pitz

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16 Months

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Vomitting
Wet Cough

my 1 year old dog has been having reverse sneeze for 8 weeks now. Most of the time he reverse sneezes, it is when he is excited or happy, when a family returns home from work or freinds visiting. when it was really bad, he vomitted 7 times within a couple of hours, continuously reverse sneezing in between. I have been to three clinics where they all say different things. One of them gave my dog heart medicine which he took for a week but the symptoms of him reverse sneezing and vomitting did not go away. Another clinic diagnosed him for an infection, so he took antibiotics for 3 weeks, but the symptoms still remained, although he only vomits once a day now, three to four days a week. vomits are almost always followed by reverse sneezes. If we keep him not excited, he only has light reverse sneeze once or twice a day. Whenever we walked him for 20 to 30 minutes outside, he was not as jumpy and running as he was before, and symptoms worsened when came back home later that day, but the weather's really hot outside, so that may be why too. sorry for the long question.

July 31, 2018

Gibong's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

If Gibong is truly reverse sneezing, it may be allergy related if it seems to be worsening. He may benefit from anti-histamine therapy, and one of the veterinarians that you took him to will be able to recommend an anti-histamine if that is appropriate for him, as I have not examined him.

July 31, 2018

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Artie

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French Bulldog

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8 Weeks

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Reverse Sneezing
Hiccups

Hi! my puppy is making this hiccup/reverse sneezing sound when we put him alone in his play pen. Is this from stress? Also he has giardia so im woundering is this is a symptom of that.when he does this should we just leave him in the pen and just let it pass or should we pick him up and hold him

June 18, 2018

Artie's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

I just realised that you asked two questions, otherwise I would have answered them both together. However, there are various causes for reverse sneezing and hiccups which may include a new environment especially if you’ve just brought Artie home; you should keep an eye on him for the next few days but if there is no improvement you should return to your Veterinarian for an examination. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

June 19, 2018

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Duke

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Australian Shepherd

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9 Years

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Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Sneezing
Reverse Sneeze,

My dog has been having reverse sneezing, and on and off discharge coming out his nose for almost 5 months now. We had a scope done, the vet said there was nothing there. We gave him allergy meds, they did not help. He will go through time where the discharge is just terrible and then will seem to get better on its own then it comes back after a couple weeks. He is about 9 years old, and an Australian Shepard mix. He did start taking galleprant recently could that be a side effect?

May 8, 2018

Duke's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Sneezing is not a side effect of Galliprant, commonly. He may have a bacterial infection that needs antibiotics, or a parasite that needs to be treated. i'm sorry that this is happening, and hope that you are able to get to the bottom of it.

May 8, 2018

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Sadie

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Daschound

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1 Year

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Pain And Reverse Sneezing

I have a one year old female daschound. She has been having the reverse sneezing for 3 days or so now. Tonight she started stiffening her head straight up as if she was smelling the air and would not bring it back down to normal. She acts almost as if she is hurting either in her neck, shoulder, or back. At times she lends her head to the left and picks up her right paw as if it is hurting. I put her in her crate to rest, but the strange thing is that she comes out of it sometimes as if nothing is wrong. I have medication from when my other daschound hurt her back. Should I give her some of that or what?

April 4, 2018

Sadie's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

I cannot legally recommend that you give any prescription medication to Sadie which was prescribed to another dog; plus I don’t know what the medication is, if it is still in date, was stored correctly etc… Also don’t try to give any human over the counter painkillers since a single tablet of ibuprofen may cause kidney failure in a dog the size of a Dachshund. Reverse sneezing may be caused by a variety of different causes and is normally a result of a dog attempting to clear their nasal passage of mucus, foreign material, tumours, polyps or other things; I am not sure how well this relates to her neck or back but a visit to your Veterinarian would be wise to get to the underlying cause. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

April 4, 2018

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zurie

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Maltipoo

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11 Years

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Reverse Sneezing

do dogs get tired of reverse sneezing? because my dog just slept and didnt eat after attack. it lasted 2-5mins with intervals for 9hrs. thanks in advance for answer. godbless

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Dobby

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Chihuahua

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2 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Reverse Sneezing

Hi there- My 2 year old chihuahua has been reverse sneezing for 15 days now. He got the Bordetella vaccine (through the nose) on Feb 13 and was boarded on Feb 16 for 4 nights. Since then, he has been reverse sneezing a ton. He has also been way more well behaved than usual so I'm worried maybe he is sick or something is going on. I've read that after the vaccine this is sort of normal. But has it been going on for too long to be normal?

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Roo

dog-breed-icon

Cairn Terrier

dog-age-icon

6 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Sudden Vomit (Regurgitation?),
Reverse Sneezing, Regurgitation

I have a rescue Cairn that has an amputated front left leg due to an injury she experienced as a stray before getting rescued. She is very wary of people and I’m sure is quite stressed on “social outings”. She had been regurgitating food ( throws up food without heaving). We changed her food to Origen and absolutely no treats. This seemed to resolve the issue. I am now seeing a pattern that when she has a stressful day, she will throw up and then reverse sneeze for 10-20 mins. Can anxiety cause the vomiting and reverse sneezing?

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Archer

dog-breed-icon

Chihuahua

dog-age-icon

1 Year

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Pain
Fatigue
Reverse Sneezing
Underbite

I have an adult chihuahua (Archer) who has an underbite and who has been occasionally reverse sneezing since he was a puppy and he was completely fine. I got another chihuahua puppy a few months ago and ever since a few weeks after getting her, his reverse sneeze has become more frequent. I assumed it was because of the now extra activity and excessive exercise he's been doing playing with the puppy, as it tends to happen while playing and there wasn't any pain. A few days ago though, his reverse sneeze has become chronic, even if he is completely relaxed or sleeping. He jolts up and screams in pain sometimes now before or after the reverse sneezing episode, then becomes extremely fatigued. Would this be in anyway normal? I'm planning on a vet visit asap I think regardless

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Annie

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Australian Shepherd

dog-age-icon

1 Year

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Neck Extension, Panting, Stiffness

My one year old Annie woke up in the night and started reverse sneezing continuously for 25 minutes at least. She had never reverse sneezes before and I am worried because the episode lasted so long with very few breaks in between reverse sneezes. She seemed afraid as she would not leave my lap and after it stopped she panted for another 20 minutes and went back to bed. Is this something I should worry about? She has no prior medical conditions or allergies

Reverse Sneezing Average Cost

From 544 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,000

Average Cost

$350

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