What is reverse sneezing in dogs?

This is how a reverse sneeze attack manifests itself: your dog will suddenly start sniffling very loudly, with a startling noise, he stands frozen, his front legs apart, his neck stretched out, his head slightly tilted towards the back, the eyes may be wide open or even bulging. These reverse sneezing attacks usually do not last long, 30 seconds, and max 1 to 2 min, they do not occur very frequently and, although impressive, they are not serious.

At the bottom of the mouth, the palate is extended by what is called the soft palate, more or less long depending on the breed and the individual. This soft palate can go into spasm when it is abnormally stimulated, and in this case slightly obstruct the trachea. This triggers a deep reflex inspiration whereas in the respiratory cycle, it would be better for the dog to exhale at this time. And so it produces this reverse sneeze! Reversed because the air is not expelled as in a sneeze but rather inhaled.

Soft palate spasm can be triggered by particles in the air, dusts/fumes/fragrances or pollens. But also by a sudden change in outside temperature, intense effort, excitement, or sometimes during a walk on a leash with a dog that pulls too much on its collar. Some breeds will manifest it more frequently, these are breeds known to have a very long soft palate, so brachycephalic (bulldogs, pugs, shih tzu, boxer…)

What attitude to adopt in the event of reverse sneezing?

As we do not panic for a sneeze, we do not panic either in the case of a reverse sneeze. Especially since the dog can be a little panicked by what is happening to him, so we don’t taste stress to stress. On the contrary, you speak calmly to your dog, you reassure him and it usually passes in several tens of seconds. A small trick all the same to stop this crisis more quickly, it is to block the nostrils of the dog a few seconds, with his fingers. This forces the dog to swallow, so it calms the irritation of the palate.

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