Reverse Sneezing in Dogs: What it Sounds Like & What to Do?

Reverse Sneezing in Dogs: What it Sounds Like & What to Do?

Last Updated on February, 2023

Like humans, there are many annoying conditions that dogs have to go through. Certain illnesses, diseases, and more of the sort can affect their health anytime, and it’s up to us as dog owners to help them deal with them.

One awful condition which can be annoying for them is reverse sneezing. If you aren’t familiar with what a reverse sneeze is or how it differs from regular sneezing, there’s nothing to worry about.

Despite being a little common in dogs, many people aren’t familiar with this ailment. That’s why we took the time to prepare a detailed guide that can walk you through all the details you need to deal with your dog’s reverse sneezing.

What is Reverse Sneezing in Dogs?

a dog reverse sneezing

Lots of dogs go through reverse sneezing episodes. The term “reverse sneeze” refers to typical conditions in cats and dogs called paroxysmal respiration.

As the name suggests, it’s the entire process of a sneeze, but backward. Most dogs will start sucking air quickly instead of blowing it out. It looks alarming because it makes it seem like your dog can’t breathe. But, just how much of a danger does it pose?

Is it Dangerous?

During a reverse sneezing episode, your dog will look like it’s in a bit of pain. It’ll move its neck around, display abnormal breathing patterns, and make funny noises. But, you (probably) have nothing to worry about during all of this!

While it can look quite dangerous, some dogs reverse sneeze all the time, and it’s completely normal. Just like regular sneezes, they happen now and then. You don’t need to get the little guy any special treatment, and it won’t require medication. 

But, something important to keep in mind is the frequency. If your dog reverse sneezes way too often, that could spell trouble. It could indicate nasal mites or some other underlying cause. Let’s discuss this some more next.

Related article: How to Help Bad Breath in Dogs?

What’s the Reason Behind Reverse Sneezing in Dogs?

There’s never an exact reason for reverse sneezing, just like a regular sneeze. It can be different for each dog, which is why it’s so hard to deal with. There are no significant clinical signs, but some factors, in particular, can cause this.

For example, brachycephalic breeds (such as a pug) are especially prone to reverse sneezing because they naturally have an elongated soft palate. Small breeds face this issue often.

a dog feeling reverse sneezing

Other possible causes include a nasal cavity, blockage in nasal passages, or allergies.

In more severe cases, it could be something chronic or even fatal. This includes issues like a collapsing trachea, nasal tumors, and other conditions. You should take the little guy to a veterinarian if you fear this to be the case.

A vet can rule out a tracheal collapse or any other harmful condition, so you don’t have to worry.

What Happens When a Dog Reverse Sneezes?

During this phenomenon, a dog will suddenly stop in its path, move its neck around, and then let out a loud snorting sound which is quite different from a dog sneezing sound. It’ll be much more intense and alarming (and not nearly as cute).

How is a Reverse Sneeze Diagnosed?

a reverse sneezing dog on the grass

In most cases, there’s no reason to diagnose reverse sneezing because there’s no serious cause. It can be a random thing that occurs while your dog is walking around or when the dog comes into contact with some foreign material that has ill effects on the dog’s nose. 

Smoke or something else wrong with the air can also be a contributing factor.

But, if you notice choking, coughing, or weird sounds, that could spell trouble. You should take your pet to the vet if you see these signs. They’ll be able to run allergy tests and x-rays, which should help your dog feel better. The vet will also inspect the nasal passages and his throat.

If there’s treatment or medication needed, the veterinarian can provide it to you. But, likely, the issue won’t come to this.

How to Treat Reverse Sneezing?

Like a regular sneeze, you won’t have to stop reverse sneezing as it’ll go away on its own. But, in case it’s too frequent, you should take action to make sure your pet is comfortable.

Start by lightly blowing on the little guy’s face to see if that helps him feel better. It’ll force him to swallow even if there’s nothing in his mouth, which can prevent further spasms. Getting your dog some fresh air is also a great idea.

a veterinarian treating a reverse sneezing dog

If subtle approaches like these don’t work, you can try keeping the dog’s nostrils closed while proceeding to gently stroke his throat. If it persists beyond this, you should consider taking the little guy to a vet as soon as possible. 

Any good veterinarian will be able to help your dog deal with his reverse sneezing episode unless the issue is too severe.

What Does Reverse Dog Sneezing Sound Like?

It’s a little difficult to explain what a reverse sneeze sounds like, mainly because of how different it is from regular sneezing. But, the best way to describe it would be to call it similar to a goose honk or any type of honk in general.

It can also sound like a loud snort. It’s an alarming sound if it’s the first time you’re hearing it. Going to a vet so they can alleviate your concerns is wise in this situation, as it stops you from worrying and makes sure the dog gets the treatment he needs.

a dog reverse sneezing

How Long do Episodes of Reverse Dog Sneezing Last?

This is important for anyone looking to tell just how bad reverse sneezing is in their pet. A usual episode should only last seconds (around 15-30). These few seconds might feel like a long time, especially given the surprising sounds, but the little window isn’t severe.

Anything longer than 30 seconds is problematic, though. Sneezing so much in any way can be dangerous, so you should consult your veterinarian if it lasts that long. 

Nasal mites or other similar issues causing reverse sneezing in dogs are uncomfortable. So, make sure to notice how long their episode lasts so you can help them.

Precautions to Prevent Reverse Sneezing in Dogs

a reverse sneezing dog on the grass

Reverse sneezes are a part of most dogs’ lives, and there’s no way to prevent them permanently. But, there are specific tips you can follow to help make them much rarer so that your dog doesn’t feel uncomfortable all the time.

The best way to do it is to maintain cleanliness in your dog’s environment. This means making sure that the little guy sleeps in clean bedding. Vacuum around your home often and dust the furniture. Vaporizers are especially helpful in keeping the air suitable for your pet.

Keep your dog away from any smoke to prevent a reverse sneeze or even normal ones. Reverse sneezing is especially common among dogs that have smoking owners. Vapes, cigarettes, fireplaces, air fresheners, and all these things have a chance of causing a reverse sneeze.

As for other precautions, they’re more specific depending on the dog’s medical history or breed. For example, you must avoid plants or other things your pet might be allergic to.

Regularly taking the dog to the vet is also essential for preventing reverse sneezing and other minor and major issues.


Reverse sneezing in dogs is a common thing that you don’t have to be too alarmed about. While it’s true that it can signal more significant issues, we’ve discussed everything you need to know about dealing with those issues accordingly and preventing them.

Now, it’s just up to you to keep everything in this article on your mind while caring for your dog to make sure the little guy doesn’t start reverse sneezing often. Once you do that, there’ll be nothing to worry about regarding this!


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Thomas Villalpando is the main author of IPet Guides. He spends his time reading, training, and working with several Dogs' behaviors. You can find more about him here.

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