Originally published Jan. 2009, reposted Nov. 2012

If you’re wondering what reverse sneezing is, what causes reverse sneezing or how to stop a reverse sneeze, 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, a holistic vet recommends may of the same suggestions and how 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, 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 & 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, trying 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 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.

Reverse sneeze video

How I naturally reduced reverse sneezing

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!

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Disclaimer: 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, 2006-2020. All Rights Reserved.

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

  1. TK says:

    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.

  2. Kathy Doyle says:

    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

  3. Robert says:

    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.

  4. Bob says:

    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?

    • Happy Trails & Wag'n Tails says:

      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.

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