Health Topics  >  Respiratory

Sneezing and Reverse Sneezing​

By Natalie Sacks, RVT.  Reviewed by Dr. Elizabeth Davis, MVB

Gesundheit! Sneezing (and reverse sneezing) is a normal bodily function in dogs, usually a response to an environmental irritant in their nasal passage like pollens or dust. Brachycephalic dogs (short-nosed dogs like Pugs and bulldogs) tend to be more susceptible to reverse sneezing episodes due to their shorter, compressed nasal passages.

While most dogs will experience a (reverse) sneezing episode at some point, any discharge, mucus or blood accompanying the sneeze, difficulty breathing or an increase in frequency and duration are all signs of a more serious issue requiring immediate veterinary attention.

Differentiating between a sneeze, reverse sneeze, cough or gag can be hard for dog owners (especially if it’s the first time it’s happened). Taking a video of your dog during an episode can be very helpful for your vet to help determine whether there’s a more serious underlying issue.

Pro tips for visiting the veterinarian:

  • Take a video of your dog’s sneezing episode, and note anything that you think may have possibly triggered it
  • If the sneezing is accompanied by bloody or yellow nasal discharge, or other respiratory signs (especially breathing difficulties), contact your vet immediately
  • You can gently massage your dog’s throat to help them clear the irritation, but any other at-home remedy should be checked with your veterinarian as it may further stress your dog

References for Sneezing and Reverse Sneezing