Skip to Content

Veterinary Nightmares – Reverse Sneeze

There exists a dog symptom so severe in its presentation, that I’d wager more calls are made to veterinary emergency clinics for it than any other symptom in creation.

This particular symptom happens randomly, totally without warning, often in the middle of the night when your “regular vet” is closed, and sounds literally like your dog is about to die of an asthma attack.

But it’s totally benign.

If I were a sadist, I would totally invent reverse sneezing to freak out pet owners.

There’s about a million different videos of reverse sneezing on YouTube, I chose this one because it sounds the worst:

Reverse sneezing tends to happen more often in small smoosh-faced dogs (“brachycephalic”). We don’t know why it happens – theories include irritation in the nose/pharynx/sinuses, or allergies, or over-excitement. Sometimes it happens after the dog wakes up from a nap, sometimes it’s when they’re just standing there being normal.

Most dogs are completely normal before and after episodes. In addition, most dogs will have repeat episodes of reverse sneezing throughout their lives.

There is no cure, there is no reliable prevention, treatment can often be achieved by pinching the dog’s nose or blowing in their face. Or leaving them alone, because they’ll stop on their own. I’ve seen some veterinarians prescribe antihistamines, with unknown efficacy.

Reverse sneezing is a veterinary nightmare not because it does anything bad to the dog, but because it causes owners extreme amounts of stress for no good reason at all.

Now that’s a nightmare.

Back to top