Dog Reverse Sneeze: Expert Tips for Understanding and Alleviating

dog reverse sneeze

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Dog owners often witness their beloved furry companions exhibiting various curious behaviors. One such peculiar occurrence is “canine reverse sneezing,” a common but often misunderstood phenomenon in dogs.

In this article, we will discover the dog reverse sneeze to shed light on its causes, symptoms, and effective remedies. Whether you’re a seasoned dog owner or a new pet parent, gaining insights into this canine quirk can help you better care for your four-legged friend. So, join us on a journey to demystify this type of sneezing and learn how to ensure your dog’s respiratory health and well-being.

What is a Reverse Sneeze in Dogs?

A reverse sneeze in dogs, technically known as paroxysmal respiration or inspiratory paroxysmal respiration, is a sudden, noisy, and abrupt inhalation reflex from the dog’s neck.

Dog’s reverse sneezing is usually characterized by a distinctive snorting or honking sound, often mistaken for a cough or choking episode. The dog rapidly pulls air and may expel air rapidly (as opposed to a regular sneeze) to remove the source of irritation.

 This reflex typically occurs when a dog’s palate or throat becomes irritated, causing it to extend its neck, open its mouth, and inhale vigorously. While dog reverse sneezes can be alarming, they are generally harmless and usually resolve on their own or with gentle intervention, like massaging the dog’s throat or offering water.

What Causes Reverse Sneeze? What Triggers Reverse Sneezing in Dogs?

Canine reverse sneezes mainly due to irritation or inflammation of the soft palate, throat, or nose passage ways. Common triggers include allergens like pollen or dust, abrupt temperature changes, excitement, and even pulling on a leash too forcefully. 

Additionally, brachycephalic breeds with flat faces and elongated soft palate are more prone to reverse sneeze due to their unique anatomy. In some cases, dog swallow some foreign objects or respiratory infections may also lead to these episodes. While often benign, persistent, or severe, reverse sneezes and abnormal breathing should be evaluated by a veterinarian to rule out underlying issues. Vet may prescribe antihistamines to reduce pollen and other allergens in the sinus passages.

Is Reverse Sneezing in Dogs Dangerous?

Dog inhaling sneezes or backward sneezing in dogs is typically not dangerous in itself but can be concerning for pet owners. It is usually a harmless reflex triggered by irritation due to nasal mites or minor issues in the throat, nasal passages, or soft palate. Most episodes of reverse sneezes resolve on their own within a short time or with gentle interventions like massaging the throat, lightly blowing on the dog’s face, or offering water. 

However, if reverse sneezing in small dogs becomes frequent with longer durations, and severe, or is accompanied by other concerning symptoms or clinical signs like coughing, nasal discharge, tracheal collapse, or dog makes weird sounds while breathing, it’s essential to consult a veterinarian. These signs could indicate underlying health problems that may require medical treatment.

Is Reverse Sneezing a Symptom of Kennel Cough?

Reverse sneezing is not typically a direct symptom of kennel cough (infectious tracheobronchitis), but it can sometimes occur concurrently. Kennel cough primarily manifests as a persistent dry cough, often accompanied by nasal discharge and a mild fever. 

Reverse sneezing, on the other hand, is a separate reflexive response to irritation. However, the irritation due to foreign bodies or kennel cough could lead to reverse sneezing in some dogs. If your dog exhibits reverse sneezing along with other concerning symptoms, gently stroke it to distract it. Do consult a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment, especially if kennel cough or other medical problem is suspected.

When Should I Worry About Dog Reverse Sneeze? Should I Be Worried if My Dog Is Reverse Sneezing?

While reverse sneezing episode is usually harmless in most dogs, there are instances where the underlying cause and contributing factor may warrant concern:

Frequency and Severity

 If your dog experiences frequent and severe reverse sneezing episodes, it’s advisable to consult a veterinarian. Persistent or intense episodes could indicate underlying issues like allergies, infections, or structural problems.

Accompanying Symptoms

 If the dog reverse sneeze is accompanied by other concerning signs such as coughing, nasal discharge, difficulty breathing, collapsing trachea or lethargy, it may signal an underlying health problem requiring prompt attention.

In most cases, brief and occasional reverse sneezing isn’t a cause for alarm. However, always trust your instincts. If you’re worried about your dog’s health, consult a veterinarian for a proper evaluation with allergy tests and peace of mind.


What does reverse sneezing in canines mean?

Reverse sneezing in canines is a reflexive response to irritation or inflammation in the throat, soft palate, or nasal passages. It involves rapid, noisy inhalations, often sounding like a honking or other loud snorting sound or noise. While usually harmless, it can indicate minor irritants or, in some cases, more significant underlying issues like nasal tumors that may require attention from a veterinarian.

How long can a dog have reverse sneezing? How long should reverse sneezing last in dogs?

The duration of a reverse sneezing episode in dogs can vary but typically lasts for a few seconds to a minute. It may seem longer due to its alarming nature. However, individual episodes are usually brief, and the dog should return to completely normal breathing afterward. Gently pet your dog to distract it so dog exhales normally.

Will Benadryl help reverse sneezing in dogs?

Benadryl (diphenhydramine) may help alleviate reverse sneezing in pets caused by allergies or irritants. The standard dose is 1 mg per pound of body weight, but it’s essential to consult a veterinarian before administering any medication to ensure the proper dosage and rule out underlying issues that might require different treatments.


Understanding reverse sneezing in our canine pals is essential for every pet owner. While these episodes can be alarming, they are typically harmless reflexes triggered by various irritants. It’s crucial to stay vigilant and monitor your dog’s health, especially if reverse sneezing becomes frequent or severe, or if it’s accompanied by other concerning symptoms. 

Always consult a veterinarian for guidance and a proper diagnosis if needed. With knowledge, patience, and the right care, you can help your furry companion navigate the occasional quirks of reverse sneezing and ensure their overall well-being. Your pet’s health and happiness are worth the effort.

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