A dog sneezes.

Our pets have a cacophony of sounds that are puzzling to their owners. From grunts to groans, some of these noises are just a part of your pet’s personality. There are others, however, that can be startling and might even make you think something is wrong with your beloved animal.

Reverse sneezing in pets is often one of the sounds that can be alarming for dog owners in particular. This type of sneeze can sound like a gag or a honk, which is upsetting if you are not sure what it is or why it is happening. The team at Conrad Weiser Animal Hospital is here to help you learn the ropes of the reverse sneeze so you know if and when you need to worry:

First Things First, What Is a Reverse Sneeze?

A reverse sneeze is caused when a dog takes a sharp inhalation of air through their nose and essentially sneezes it back out. This inhalation happens when something irritates the soft palate and causes a muscle spasm. During a reverse sneeze, a dog might stand and stretch out his neck and make a gagging sound, which could happen a few times in a row. If you have never heard this sound before, it might be quite alarming, but in most cases, it has a simple explanation.

The Cause of the Reverse Sneeze

When a dog sneezes with a normal sneeze, it is because something has irritated the nasal cavity and the body is trying to expel it. Something similar happens in a reverse sneeze; an irritant has made its way past the nasal cavity and trachea all the way to the soft palate and the body wants to get rid of it. Because it’s so far down, it takes a little more force to get it out of the body. Some common irritants that can lead to a reverse sneeze are:

What To Do About Reverse Sneezes 

There are a few methods you can use to try to stop a reverse sneeze. Place your hand gently over the dog’s nose so he has to swallow, which can dislodge whatever is irritating the soft palate. If this does not help, you might want to try to gently massage the throat area. You know your pet better than anyone, and if the reverse sneeze is starting to sound concerning to you, give us a call and we can let you know if you should bring your pet in to see us. 

When To See the Veterinarian 

In almost all cases, a reverse sneeze should not cause worry. If you notice that it is happening frequently, however, you might want to call us and schedule an appointment with one of our veterinarians. Some breeds, like brachycephalic breeds, might be more prone to reverse sneezing because of their smaller faces.

The staff at Conrad Weiser Animal Hospital is always here to help you ensure your pets are as healthy as can be. Whether you are worried about a noise your dog is making or it’s time for your cat’s yearly checkup, call us today at (610) 589-5019 to learn more or to schedule an appointment