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Reverse Sneeze Complex

We occasionally have owners present to the clinic with their dogs who display a problem where the dog periodically sucks air in hard and noisily backwards through the nose. This is called a reverse sneeze. It is usually an issue in brachiocephalic (short nosed) breeds but can affect any breed. While it can be quite alarming, it is rarely a serious problem and is usually caused by some irritation in the nasopharynx or back of the throat.

When we identify this problem, we examine the throat for foreign material, growths, drainage and anatomic issues such as an elongate soft palate or everted saccules. We may treat the dog for a rare condition called nasal mites. Some dogs may need x-ray, rhinoscopy or even CT scans to better visualize what is happening within the nose itself. We sometimes perform nasal irrigation.
We may treat the dogs with antihistamines or anti-inflammatories if there is suspicion of drainage, irritation or inflammation. Surgery may be required with some of the anatomic issues or foreign material, but many times treatment is as simple as calming the dog or distracting its attention away from the malady with a treat or command such as “come”.

- Chip Cooney, DVM

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