The first time that a dog owner hears their beloved canine go into a reverse sneezing episode it can be a frightening experience; many think that their dog is choking or suffocating. Paroxysmal respiration or pharyngeal gag reflex (more commonly known as a reverse sneeze) occurs when the soft palate and/or throat become irritated resulting in spasms. Although these reverse sneezing fits pose no medical threat to dogs, they can be unsettling to owners. During reverse sneezing, dogs typically extend their neck and make a loud snorting sound as they seem to be gasping for air. Breeds that tend to have shorter or “smashed” faces such as boxers and bulldogs tend to be more prone to reverse sneezing. Some dogs will have the appearance of bulging eyes and/or outwards turned elbows during the attack. In most cases, the reverse sneezing episodes last two minutes or less. In the event that the episode persists, owners can encourage their pet to swallow by gently rubbing their throat. Alternative courses of action from the owner include offering food or water and taking their pet outside for fresh air. Causes include irritants (chemicals used in the home – cleaning products, perfumes, insect sprays); environmental allergens (pollens, grasses, dust) and canine nasal mites (please refer to our article regarding this topic). Treatment for the reverse sneezing itself is unnecessary; however, treating for allergies or canine nasal mites may be recommended. Owners should be aware that reverse sneezing episodes can occur at any time in the life of their dog, and while it may become a persistent condition in many dogs, it can also be a one time occurrence. Dogs should never stop breathing completely or loose consciousness during a reverse sneezing episode. If this occurs or if the episode does not subside and you suspect your dog may be in distress contact your veterinarian immediately.
Ask us at Animal Central for more information on reverse sneezing or visit: http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&A=2335
Dr. George Stroberg, DVM and Staff