Reverse Sneezing in Dogs

Veterinary reviewed by: Michele K.

Reverse Sneezing in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

Veterinary reviewed by: Michele K.

Reverse Sneezing in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

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.

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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 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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Worried about the cost of Reverse Sneezing treatment?

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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
  • 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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Local dog cross with german shepherd

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4 years

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4 found helpful

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4 found helpful

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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4 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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3 found helpful

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3 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Wet Cough
Vomitting

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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3 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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Reverse Sneezing Average Cost

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

Average Cost

$350

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