Reverse Sneezing cause, duration and how to stop it naturally

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If you’re wondering what a reverse sneeze is, what causes reverse sneezing, or how to stop your dog from reverse sneezing 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 many of these same principles may help reduce your dog’s 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, the 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. Some possibilities are allergies, pulling on the leash, nasal irritants such as pollen, 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.

I have personally witnessed dogs I was pet sitting all do it the same day. Some had been sitting still while others were outside on a walk with me. All of the dogs were different breeds, ate different food, and lived in different homes in Carlsbad and San Marcos CA. So the only common factor was me 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 vets 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 dog’s throat. If that does not work, try closing off the nasal openings for a few seconds.

Is a reverse sneeze dangerous?

While reverse sneezing 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 as calm as possible! I can’t stress this enough. Your pet may become stressed during this episode and your stress will only exacerbate your pet’s 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 the dog.

What behavior is displayed during a reverse sneeze?

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

What a Reverse sneeze sounds and looks like

10 tips and tricks to stop reduce reverse sneezing naturally

My dog only reverse sneezes now maybe once a year and it lasts for a few seconds. This is what I did to stop my dog from reverse sneezing.

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!

Originally published Jan. 2009, reposted Nov. 2012

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This Post Has 61 Comments

  1. Dave

    I’m currently battling this… But it’s affecting all 4 of our dogs. One is a border collie (4 y/o) and 2 Maltese/ Shih Tzu mix (9 and 10 y/o) and one Maltese (11 y/o). We’ve been to the vet several times over about 2 years now. It happens at all hours and severities vary between dogs.

    The most recent attempt the vet tried was an allergy medication and this worked immediately, and for the entire time they were taking it. But after one day of being off, they all started again. Now the vet wants me to remove one to another house for a while to see if it’s environmental at our house.

    This is very frustrating, thank you for all the information.

    1. Happy Trails & Wag'n Tails

      It could be something in your home or in the air outside. I’m not sure if you saw in this blog where I mentioned dogs from several different households did it one day but not the next. That leads me to believe that environment defiantly is a factor.

  2. Matt

    Well I”m an idiot. I bet I have over-vaccinated both my pets and children. Thanks for posting great information to the world!

  3. TK

    My Siberian Husky pup is now 3. We have been battling this for a year and 4 months now. He was only 1yr 9mo when he started this. When he feels an attack coming on or starts one he wakes me up or finds me for comfort. We have been VERY DILIGENT about his vet checks and vaccinations. Through our vet, we have had full body x-rays done – no blockage, treated for kennel cough even though he didn’t have that, benedryl – allergies, Bayer Quad wormer, Bravecto – treat nose mites. Cleaned entire house for allergies, used a humidifier for a while, BUT NOTHING IS WORKING! I also had a friend that said they had found a stray and one day after having him for a while he started doing this. They didn’t do anything for him except try Benedryl which didn’t work. Then after about 2 years of this he just stopped. He was about 3 1/2 yrs old at this point. Hoping this is going to be our relief. We are out of options except changing his food, which I am very leery about. I did find that the beds suggestion in your article was interesting. Might have to try that.

  4. Kathy Doyle

    I used to work at a vets office (About 30 years ago) and the vet could not find the reason a cat’s (Not normal for cats to do this) reverse sneezing.. He was going to try antibiotics, anti inflamatories and allergy pills… I noticed a tiny of green in his nose.. as the Dr grabbed the tip of it and slowly pulled out a 2 inch long.. blade of grass… All the way into his nostril and down his throat.. Poor cat sniffed up a blade of grass and caused so much grief to his owners.. Shine a flashlight in your guys throat and see if there’s something obviously causing the irritation

  5. Robert

    As usual awesome content and perfectly written. Thank you for providing helping content and recommended by me. Moreover, as a user of this community, I would like to share relevant blog to help peoples, its really helpful.

  6. Bob

    My dog has been doing this since we found him, but sometimes he’ll do it non stop for hours. I’ve tried rubbing his throat, plugging his nose, even things I made up like patting his back or chest but nothing works. I don’t know what to do. Is there something else I can do?

    1. Happy Trails & Wag'n Tails

      Including at the bottom of this post is the is list of things I did to get my dog to stop reverse sneezing. The throat rubbing only helps temporarily, whereas what I did got it to stop it from happening altogether.

      1. Cassidy

        What are the things you did for the reverse sneeze please

        1. Happy Trails & Wag'n Tails

          They are listed on the bottom of this blog. 🙂

  7. Marieliz

    My dog woke me up at 1 in the morning to the sound of it. I wasn’t sure what it was at all. I just grabbed him and started petting him but it was like he couldn’t resist it. So after about googling it for a second I realized it looked and sounded exactly like what you would call “reversed sneezing.” The video and info. really helped calm my nerves a ton. I immediately started rubbing his throat at the same time he was having the episode and within a couple seconds he threw up what looked like was his food from earlier. The reverse sneezing then stopped and he was able to fall back asleep. I could tell he was seriously tired. But do you happen to know why he threw up in addition to? I’m not sure if I should be worried.

    1. Happy Trails & Wag'n Tails

      I’m glad this article was able to help calm you and help your dog. My dog never threw up so I can’t elaborate on that. How is he doing now?

      1. Marieliz

        He seems fine. Eating running playing. His stool is normal. It’s the second time he threw up this week though.

      2. Marieliz

        He’s doing fine now. He’s eating, playing and just about doing everything normally. Even his stool and urine is good to go. But that was the second time he vomited this week and the first time he reversed sneezed beforehand.

        1. Happy Trails & Wag'n Tails

          I’m sure it’s obvious if this keeps up to take him to the vet, so instead, I will share a few thoughts. Is he eating fast? Have you checked your yard to make sure something like fertilizer was not put down, without your knowledge, or something is growing that your dog could be eating? Finally do some research to see if there are any food recalls or people stating their dog is also vomiting from the same brand of food.

          1. Marieliz

            Thanks. And sorry I sent two of the same messages. It said it never posted but I guess they both did. He does eat quite fast sometimes

          2. Marieliz

            He eats pedigree chopped chicken with rice mixed with a pedigree hard food. I didn’t see any bad reviews so far. I’ll keep an eye on him and see if he continues to throw up or reverse sneeze

  8. kristen mcmillin

    My sweet girl just had a bad episode. She doesn’t do it often but scares me when she does. I tried massaging her throat as recommended and she’s fine now.


    My dog is a senior Pom and is doing this reverse sneezing. It is scary as she has a heart murmur. She gets upset over it too. Is there anything I can do? I tried that “slippery elm” recommended by Dr.Axe for digestive issues but she threw it up. There has to be something. Is it because their nostrils are dry?

    1. Happy Trails & Wag'n Tails

      I’m sorry it’s so scary for you and your dog. Unfortunately the only suggestions I have are the ones that I wrote in the article about how I got my dog to stop doing it.

  10. lauren

    my 1 year old American akita just started doing this. I immediately started to rub her throat and kept her calm, we didn’t have a clue what was going on then I found this ! the exact same symptoms thank you for this! my other akita thought she was playing

  11. Name (required)

    i like your post..your post is very useful. thank you for sharing this post..

  12. Allie

    My 8yr old dachshund rescue mix has always done this (her throat suffered damaged prior to being rescued) but over time it leveled out. A few days ago she got sick from both ends and I believe the vomiting has set it off. Im using a humidifier and couping her chest to help. Hope this helps someone.

  13. Hong Phan

    Hello, my eight year old maltese recently developed reverse sneezing. My little girl had placed a collar on her that was too tight. Unfortunately, I did not notice that it was on her for almost 24 hours. It has been 4 days that she has been suffering with the reverse sneeze. It happens a few times throughout the day. I did give her 1 tsp of honey today. I am hoping this will resolve soon. Any advice? Should I bring her to the the vet? I appreciate your input!

    1. Happy Trails & Wag'n Tails

      If my dog was reverse sneezing I personally would not rush my dog to the vet. However only you can make a decision for your dog. If the behavior your dog is displaying is different than in the video, then yes I would schedule a vet appointment! I have no other advice other than what I put in this article. Did the honey help at all?

      1. Mary

        My 2 year old rattie just did this at 1am. I was calm (but inside I was freaked) and held & pet her til it was over. It lasted maybe 2 mins. I immediately ran to the internet and found this. Thank you for your article! It calmed my worries & now I have some advice on how to handle this if it happens again. She does have allergies (mostly just sneezes & itching mildly) and I do feed her grain free, but now I have some advice on what to do further. Thx!?

  14. Mary lee

    My dog is a rescue dog I just addopted her shes a 7 year old coon hound and this keeps happening i am scared she has kennel cough how do i know the difference and what else works? Much appreciated!

    1. Happy Trails & Wag'n Tails

      If your dog had kennel cough the coughing would be frequent and likely will produce white foaming spit up.

  15. Teri Malley

    Our 2 yr old mixed breed just started this three days ago. A call to the vet suggested Benadryl for possible allergies. She does eat grass. After googling and scouring internet because I was scared to give Benadryl I also found a possible reason is a too-tight collar and leash pulling. Her collar is fine but she is a very strong leash puller. We bought a harness and she dislikes it but the snorting seems to have slowness down somewhat. We are on day 3. Never heard of reverse sneezing and thought she was choking and would die in my arms. Very scary for new pet owner. ? Massaging her throat and staying calm seems to help. Getting Benadryl today after all because I keep reading that it has possible anti-inflammatory qualities. Will update again at later date.

    1. Happy Trails & Wag'n Tails

      Teri, How is your dog doing?

  16. Teresa simmons

    My dog just had this for the first time.. I was so scared he was dying so i held him rubbing him and loving on him and assured him its ok calm down. Eventually he stopped and is sleeping now. I am just glad it was not more serious.. I was gonna try benadryl. But hes calm .. Thanks for all this info it helped me alot

  17. Stefan Bißle

    My senior 11 yo Chihuahua started about a year ago. Nothing changed in her diet or daily habits or the products that we use around the house.

    It literally just started out of the blue. Any vet I’ve mentioned it to just thinks it’s a normal thing. I thought it was allergies because it started around March of last year and that is when her normal allergies kick in. But her normal allergies just cause itching skin. And they typically stop around the end of May.

    This has been a constant struggle every single day since she started. With it being so frequent and not seeming to stem from any environmental variable I’m terrified that it could be nasal cancer. There isn’t typically any nasal discharge but if she does regular sneeze on a rare occasion some matter will come out.

    I’m unsure if it is a normal dog “booger” because it’s gray in color.

    I can live with the noise during the day but at night it’s so loud that it wakes me up.

    I ordered two .3 micron HEPA filters. One large enough for the living dining kitchen area and one for the bedroom.

    I’m really hoping that it brings some relief to the both of us.

    I’ve always had a dog and I love her to death but these constant problems with her, especially because I’ve tried so hard to provide her with all the medical care and best food ( diamond naturals) that I can and to still have her suffer from so many ailments is really bringing doubt to me having another dog or pet after she passes.

    1. Nadine

      Have her teeth checked. My chi did the same thing and it was bad teeth. Got them pulled and he never did it again

  18. Ani

    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?

    1. Happy Trails & Wag'n Tails

      I’ve never heard 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 has recently been 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?

  19. Ashley

    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?

    1. Kim

      Did it stop? If so how? My beagle has been doing this all night in his sleep last night and I worried.

  20. Sherry

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

    1. Happy Trails & Wag'n Tails

      You’re welcome. I’m so glad you found it helpful!

  21. jill dufore

    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!!!!

    1. Happy Trails & Wag'n Tails

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

  22. Amber

    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?

    1. Happy Trails & Wag'n Tails

      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.

    2. L j

      I put my chihuahua in the bathroom with steam for a little while and it stops the sneezing

  23. Linda

    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

    1. Anna

      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

      1. Happy Trails & Wag'n Tails

        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.

  24. Karen

    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.

    1. Ceecee

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

    2. Elizabeth Warren

      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.

  25. Kathy

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

  26. Lauren

    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!

    1. Happy Trails & Wag'n Tails

      You are very welcome Lauren!

  27. sharon c

    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.

    1. Happy Trails & Wag'n Tails

      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.

  28. T

    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!

  29. Liz Blue

    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.

  30. Marin

    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.

  31. Cindi

    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?

    1. Pet Sitter

      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.

    2. Shaniqua

      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?