You’re hanging out with your pet when suddenly, they emit a strange, unexpected, honking-like sound. It’s almost like they are having some issues with a normal sneeze or cough. As soon as the episode comes on, it goes away. Your pet appears to be normal and goes about their business unharmed. This odd phenomenon is not unusual in some pets, especially dogs.

If you have ever wondered what this noise is about, you’ve come to the right place. The team at Evendale-Blue Ash Pet Hospital is here to clear up the reasons behind the reverse sneeze and what they are all about.

The Reverse Sneeze

Most normal sneezes rely on the basic mechanism of air flowing out of the body through the nose and mouth. Sneezing is a way to release foreign bodies and environmental irritants from the nasal passages. A reverse sneeze, also called inspiratory paroxysmal respiration, occurs when air is being rapidly pulled into the body through the nose. 

The reverse sneeze can happen for a few seconds to minutes. During this time, a pet might stiffen their body with their head and neck arched upward. The sneezing sounds like honking or snorting. It can be frightening to a pet owner to hear and see, but most of the time, it is harmless and your pet will resume normal respiration once they exhale. 

Causes of Reverse Sneezing in Dogs

Like a cough or a sneeze, there is a contributing factor or factors to reverse sneezing. Some more common causes include:

  • Environmental allergens
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Perfume or essential oils
  • Carpet deodorizers
  • Incense
  • Household cleaners or toxins
  • Bacterial infection
  • Viruses
  • Inhalation of foreign body, like a grass blade or foxtail

When a Reverse Sneeze Causes Concern

Since most of these episodes are periodic and without any other precipitating issues, they generally don’t need further investigation. However, there are some signs that can signal other problems that may be occurring, causing the sneezing. 

  • Fever
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Discharge from the nose
  • Something lodged in the nose
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Wheezing and coughing
  • Gasping
  • Retching or trying to vomit

If reverse sneezing continues, it’s also good just have them go through a thorough examination to exclude anything affecting your sweet pet’s health.

If you are concerned about your pet’s respiration or have noticed the reverse breathing occur more frequently, please contact us. We can get to the bottom of the cause and conditions to get your pet back on the track to excellent health and well-being.