Originally published Jan. 2009, reposted Nov. 2012

If you’re wondering what reverse sneezing is, what causes it or how to stop it, you have come to the right place. 

I will also share below how I reduced my dog’s reverse sneezing down to 1x per year and how theses same principles have reduced his cancer risk!

What is Reverse Sneezing?

It sounds like someone trying to clear their throat. In a regular sneeze, your dog pushes air out through his or her nose. During a reverse sneeze, air is pulled in through the nose producing a distinctive noise. I will include a video below so you can see what it sounds like and the posture your dog holds while reverse sneezing.

What causes a reverse sneeze?

There could be a few reasons although the exact reason is unknown. Some possibilities are allergies, pulling on the leash, nasal irritants such as pollen, or nasal inflammation or infection. If reverse sneezing continues with your dog on a regular basis, please consult a veterinarian to rule out kennel cough, respiratory infection, nasal mites, collapsed trachea and cancer.

Happy Trails & Wag’n Tails has personally witnessed pet sitting dogs all do it the same day. Some had been sitting still while others are outside ready for me to take them on their walk.  All different breeds, food, and homes in Carlsbad & San Marcos CA. So the only common factor was myself and the environment. I purposely did everything the same the next day as far as perfume, hair products and lotion. The result was none of the dogs reverse sneezed.

After further research, I found that some vet’s believe that vaccines may be causing reverse sneezing as well as other behavior or health changes**.

How long does a reverse sneeze last?

It can last from a few seconds to a few minutes, once or several times a day.  After the “episode” has stopped, your dog should resume normal behavior.

How to stop or shorten a reverse sneeze?

Try massaging your dogs throat.  If that does not work, trying pinching- closing off the nasal openings for a few seconds.

Is a reverse sneeze dangerous?

While this can be quite scary for dog owners because they think their dog might not be able to breathe, I personally wouldn’t run my dog to the vet.

First remain calm as possible!!! I can’t stress this enough. Your pet may become stressed during this episode and your stress will only exacerbate your pets current state.

Reverse sneezing is a common phenomenon in dogs although, rarely seen in cats. This can occur in any age, breed or sex of dog.

What behavior is displayed during a reverse sneeze?

Your dog will inhale rapidly while standing fairly stiff, their head might move like he/she might vomit, and their eyes may bulge. The sound would be best described as if someone is trying to cleared their throat or snorting.

Reverse sneeze video


How I naturally reduced reverse sneezing

My dog only reverse sneezes now maybe twice a year and it lasts for a few seconds.

I will share things I have done, the things I have hardly ever do or do not do at all. I feel all of these have contributed to a drastic reduction in the amount of times he reverse sneezed and shortened the duration.

Update Oct 2016: I’m happy to say a holistic vet I follow has given some of the same recommendations as above. I hope this makes you feel more confident about naturally treating reverse sneezing!

Caring is sharing!

1. If you found this article helpful, send a link to at least two friends.

2. Leave a comment below to let me what you learned or found most helpful.

In good health!

Happy Trails & Wag’n Tails


The information contained in this web site is provided for general informational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. If your pet has a medical problem, please seek medical attention from your veterinarian. Happy Trails & Wag’n Tails will do our best to ensure that information presented is accurate and up-to-date. Happy Trails & Wag’n Tails does not accept any responsibility for damages, loss or illness which may arise in connection with the use of the information published on this website. The decision to use, or not to use, any information is the sole responsibility of the reader. Opinions expressed here are those of individual contributors. © Happy Trails & Wag’n Tails, 2016. All Rights Reserved.

26 Responses to “Reverse Sneezing: cause, duration & how to stop it”

  1. Cindi says:

    My 3 year old Brussels Griffon has been doing the backwards sneeze for years and my Dr. said it was allergies. However, the last time he did this was a month ago and he was unable to use his back legs and just now this morning it has happened again.
    I am so distraught. Is the violence of this now giving him a hernia? Or is a joint pulled out of place?
    Last month I carried him to go out and help him up so he could do his business and gave him a pain pill I had left over from his medicines and stayed in bed with him almost 24 hours and then…he was fine.
    This morning he is still unable to walk proper and I gave him a pain pill and will watch and wait.
    Has this every happened to anyone’s dog before?

    • Pet Sitter says:

      Cindi, I am sorry to hear about your dogs condition. Being as I am not a vet I can not give you any answers per se. A few thoughts came to mind in regards to lameness such as certain dogs are predisposed to conditions such as Patellar luxation (aka: or trick knee, subluxation of patella, floating patella, or floating kneecap) & Hip dysplasia. Also dogs with back or spine injuries could display lameness as well.

    • Shaniqua says:

      Hi Cindi,

      I have a 2 year old Maltese Bichon mix dog and he has been having episodes of reverse sneezing for a while now.
      Not too long ago, he went through something similar your dog has gone through. One morning after I woke up I noticed that he was limping on one of his front paws then a day passed and he still was limping; however, the next day he was walking fine and running around playfully. A few days passed and he could not walk from pain in his back leg and appeared to be in pain.
      Early the next morning, I immediately took him to the vet and they could not determine what the cause of this was. At that moment, I did not mention him reverse sneezing; but, we left with painkillers and antibiotics.
      Today, he has started reverse sneezing again and the duration of these seem to be increasing in length. Before just massaging his throat stopped it quickly, but I now have to walk around and also try to calm him down.

      Have you learned of any causes or a diagnosis for this happening?

  2. Marin Veterinary says:

    My dog always ha reverse sneezing fits. I never knew what it was! Now, I cover her nose and open her mouth so she can breathe through her mouth and she is fine.

  3. Liz Blue says:

    My 2 year old Rottie began doing this followed by a bit of regurgitation. I recalled that 2 of my cats, both died, also did it. I had a mold inspection done in my apartment and it showed a variety of molds including strachybotrus, aka black mold. All the molds were toxic. I have had health problems too. My pets are getting treated now. My dog could have died as my 2 cats and her predecessor dog did. Water damage, including leaky pipes, especially where you cannot see are a prevalent mold and sickness causing problem.

  4. T says:

    I just used this on my pug who was having the longest reverse sneezing fit I’ve seen her have. It worked instantly! Thanks for the video!

  5. sharon c says:

    All 4 of my dogs have done the reverse sneeze. However, my bichon goes on and on and on, and starts to panic, and I’m afraid she will pass out. What I’ve done to stop it, is use my inhaler to squirt into her mouth, that always stops it within seconds. I’m lucky I have an inhaler in the house. Nothing else stops it.

    • Happy Trails & Wag'n Tails says:

      Sharon I am curious what does your vet say about you using an inhaler? I know dogs have been admitted to the emergency hospital within 10 minutes due to poisoning from inhalers.

  6. Lauren says:

    Thank you so much for this and the video! Especially thanks for letting us know how to shorten the reverse sneezes it really helped. It helped not only my dog but helped me to stay calm and not further stress him out. This is my first dog so every little tip like this really helps. Thanks again!

  7. Kathy says:

    A drop of lemon juice does the trick instantly, do not use the plastic lemons only fresh.

  8. Karen says:

    My 12 year old Tenterfield Terrier has been reverse sneezing for years and we’ve never been able to stop her. We’ve tried all the remedies such as pinching the nose, massaging the throat and spraying water onto her mouth but nothing works. She can have an attack for 10 minutes which worries us as she has a heart condition. He little body heaves in and out which can’t be good for her. There seems to be no obvious trigger so we have to live with it.

    • Ceecee says:

      Try honey, lemon and warm water mixture. It seems to work on my dog who has this issue.

    • Elizabeth Warren says:

      I have always given my pomeranian benadryl when she has these spells, and it is effective, so I assume it is allergic spells. I give her a half a tab in a piece of lunch meat or cheese and it goes away for the remainder of the day.

  9. Linda says:

    Yes it was helpful to a degree however I do remain calm, pinch her nose plus massage her throat . My big concern is it appears to be lasting as long as three and a half minutes . Is there a time frame where as it becomes a serious issue or maybe she might not breath again .
    Thank You

    • Anna says:

      Same here- a few minutes it seems to last and throughout the night for the last few days. It was brought on all the sudden and I can’t figure out why, nothing has changed in my little Chihuahua (he is geriactric and deaf). I’m calm and loving, pinching, massagibf throat and gently blowing in his face doesn’t work at all as

      • Happy Trails & Wag'n Tails says:

        Hi Linda & Anna. Have you tried any of the suggestions I made, at the bottom of this blog, where I shared how I reduced my dogs reverse sneezing naturally? You will be happy to know a holistic vet I follow has given some of the same recommendations.

  10. Amber says:

    I’m with Anna about a week ago. My senior chihauhau started doing this. She acts completely normal during before and after an episode. However the episodes are start ing to last a bit longer now running about 8 minutes. Is this normal? Until now I’ve never even heard of reverse sneezing. I have tried to pinch the nostrils and have administered benedryl as tho it’s fall and thinking it may be allergies. Neither we’re affective. Is their any other things anyone might suggest me try to help with an episode?

    • Happy Trails & Wag'n Tails says:

      Hi Amber. Have you tried any of the suggestions I made, at the bottom of this blog, where I shared how I reduced my dogs reverse sneezing naturally? You will be happy to know a holistic vet I follow has given some of the same recommendations.

  11. jill dufore says:

    Thanks so much for your info!!!!! My dog has just recently started the reverse sneezing (which i had no idea what was going on prior to your site). I am trying to eliminate different things since it just started such as my candles etc. He also just started trying to catch moles in the back yard which means he has dug holes in the dirt and basically buried his face in it. I feel so much better after reading all the comments and so far your technique of throat rubbing and nose closing seems to work. ps the video was great!!!!

    • Happy Trails & Wag'n Tails says:

      Thank you for taking the time to comment on my blog! I would love to hear any progress you make as you eliminate things.

  12. Sherry says:

    Thank you so very much! The video was the most help!!

  13. Ashley says:

    My dog has been doing this all night. This is the most frequent I have seen it. She is to the point now that she is reverse sneezing and vomiting every 15 mins or so. The vomiting is because she can’t stop reverse sneezing. she has reverse sneezed in the past but it only lasts a few minutes and than it passes and no vomiting. Any ideas how to stop this? What if is? If I need to go to the vet?

  14. Ani says:

    My boxer just started a reverse sneezing fit yesterday when we got back from vacation. We were gone for 10 days and our daughter stayed at our house with Jax while we were gone. She was very excited to see us, of course, and ran around outside in a puppy frenzy. Then a couple hours later she started the snorting and choking sounds. She has continued to have spells off and on since. Going on 24 hours now. While we were gone, we were visiting different family members and our luggage was with 4 different doggy households. Could the scents of all the other dogs be bothering her so much that these fits keep happening?

    • Happy Trails & Wag'n Tails says:

      I’ve never hear of that being a factor. I’m around many pets all day long and it didn’t trigger my dog. Anything is possible I suppose. I have noticed one dog I walk making noises she normally didn’t. The only thing that I noticed was different increased amount of pollen. Has your pollen level increased? When is the last time your pet had a “shot” / vaccination?

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