HONK-Wheeze: What Is a Reverse Sneeze?
Have you ever been sitting enjoying some quality time with your dog when they let out a weird, honking noise and appear to be struggling to breathe?
This scary phenomenon is called inspiratory paroxysmal respiration, also known as the reverse sneeze. While it seems like something for dog owners to worry about, in most cases it is a common condition that occurs without serious repercussions in dogs.
While most reverse sneezes are completely harmless, there are some cases where it could be a sign of something more. The team at Parkside Animal Hospital is here to help you understand more about the reverse sneeze and what it means:
The Reverse Sneeze
A normal sneeze expels air out of the airways through the nose. Most sneezes occur because an allergen or a foreign body is irritating the airway. When your dog reverse sneezes, he or she pulls the air in through the airways suddenly, which results in a honking sound.
During a reverse sneeze, you may notice your pet stretches out his or her neck, pulls the lips back, and stiffens the body. This snorting and wheezing may go on for up to 15 seconds, which can seem scary, especially if this is the first reverse sneeze you have ever witnessed. The good news is that most of these cases are harmless.
Although the true cause of the reverse sneeze is still unknown, there are certain precipitors that are linked to inspiratory paroxysmal respiration. Basically, any sneeze, whether it is normal or reverse, is an attempt to push out an irritant, like an allergen, foreign body, bug, or other substances. Brachycephalic breeds, such as pugs and bulldogs, are prone to this condition. Overexcitement can also lead to an episode.
When the Sneeze Is Something More
If your pet has repeat episodes of reverse sneezing, we recommend you have them examined. There are certain medical conditions that can cause reverse sneezing. During the examination, we will look at clinical signs and determine if there is something causing a respiratory problem, such as nasal tumours or polyps, tracheal collapse, an infection, allergies, or if there is a foreign body in the nasal passage. Nasal mites are also a common cause of reverse sneezing.
If necessary, we will conduct blood tests, X-rays, and other diagnostic testing to rule out any disease, illness, or injury.
Helping Your Pet
Although in most cases reverse sneezing is completely harmless, pet owners still want to find ways to reduce or eliminate these episodes. If this condition isn’t accompanying any other health problem, you can try to decrease the occurrence of the reverse sneeze with the following:
- Keep your pet calm by using a soothing voice
- Massage the neck, starting from the top and working your way down, to encourage the animal to swallow
- Gently lift the head up or down to shift the soft palate
- Open the mouth and press down on the tongue to open up the airway
- Distract your dog with toys, food, or a treat
If you are concerned because your dog is continuously experiencing reverse sneezing, Parkside Animal Hospital is here to help. Call (705) 223-3404 or visit us online to schedule an appointment and we will do a thorough examination to get to the root of the problem. We love your animals as much as you do and we want to be sure they are feeling their best.