In the video below, you will see “Mr. Puggle” making weird, funny noises that sound like he is snoring, but with eyes wide open. Such an episode is called reverse sneezing. The owner pinched the dog’s nose for a few seconds, and the backwards sneezing stopped.
In some cases, the inward “achoo!” of canines may sound hilarious. But there are also instances when it looks like the dogs are having difficulties breathing, the same thing that happens when one is having an asthma attack, and this could be really scary.
If you too are experiencing this with your pup, you probably are curious to know what causes it and if it is something serious. For sure, it is bothering you big time, and you are wondering how to stop it. But what about those dogs reverse sneezing at night, in their sleep? Is there a need to worry? Or does it go away on its own?
Why Do Dogs Reverse Sneeze at Night?
Medically known as inspiratory paroxysmal respiration, mechanosensitive aspiration reflex or pharyngeal gag reflex, this episode is often characterized by repeated inhalation through the nose, and is usually followed by snorting sounds and even gagging sometimes.
Since it is a reflex, just like the regular sneeze or hiccup, it is something that can’t be controlled.
Now, can you imagine yourself falling asleep and you hear your puppy make those unusual sounds as he reverse sneeze at night? It could be annoying, but it could also cause alarm, especially if it is his first time doing it and you really don’t know what it is.
4 Reasons Why Your Dog Reverse Sneezes At Night
There are many things that can cause canines to reverse sneeze but there are fewer that cause your dog to reverse sneeze at night.
 Overheating and Buried
It is possible that he is getting too hot, particularly at night time. More so if you sleep with your pet, and you try to make him as comfortable as possible by covering him up with your comforter or maybe even snuggling him. Little did you know that this actually contributes to reverse sneezing.
 Allergies and irritants
Another possible reason why your pooch is sneezing backwards during bedtime is because something is irritating him.
If he is sleeping in your bed, your dog might be irritated by the strong smell of a recently washed duvet or by some perfume or after shave that has been sprayed in the room.
Your dog might be irritated by a bit of dust that has been disturbed as your close the curtains (sorry) or by a bit of furniture polish that was recently used to clean all the surfaces in the bedroom!
Perhaps I should have included this in with the previous heading but in the current climate I felt that it warranted it’s own section.
Coronovirus has meant that more of us are using antibacterial soaps and alcohol sprays and these can be an irritant to some dogs .
What I’m not saying is that your dog might reverse sneeze at night because they have caught coronavirus!
It might be part of your night time routine to have a bit of a play with your dog before bed- some rough and tumble or rough housing before you say “good night”.
If as part of this your dog gets very excited and charges around this might also trigger a bout of reverse sneezing as your dog tries to catch their breath.
Now that we have looked at the main causes of reverse sneezing at night, I want to quickly explain other causes of reverse sneezing that you might see in the day.
4 Other Causes of Reverse Sneezing
Reverse sneezing doesn’t just happen at night.
To my mind, there are four possible causes of day time reverse sneezing.
 Lead and collar
Some dogs aren’t great on a lead- one of my dogs is a bitof a nightmare in this respect.
But some dogs are so poorly trained or so powerful or just so excited that the pressure that they place on their collar as they are pulling on a lead is enough to cause them to reverse sneeze
Exercise might induce a bit of reverse sneezing in another respect as well.
A dog who has had such a vigorous walk or run might start to reverse sneeze as they struggle for their breath.
 Foreign bodies
Don’t panic, I’m not talking about aliens here!
But I am talking about an object in your dog’s mouth cause a fit of sneezing.
We have a young dog staying with us at the moment and he will pick anything up- my wife’s slipper or my grandson’s toy car.
Dogs that have a tendency to pick things up and carry them or chew them are more likely to reverse sneeze if they get in to a tussle with someone who tries to get the object out of their mouth.
This is because it can quickly become a game- they don’t want to give the object up ad in their excitement they are breathing more quickly…
 Eating and drinking
My final day time cause of reverse sneezing is eating and drinking.
Two of a dog’s greatest pleasures in life!
And this applies mostly to dogs who eat and drink as if they haven’t seen water or food for days.
Food is chewed and water isn’t swallowed- everything is inhaled.
As well as fast eaters being more at risk than slow eaters, I think dog who eat kibble are more at risk than dogs who are on a wet food or raw food diet.
And now that we have explored the causes of day time and night time sneezing, I want to look at how you can help and support a dog that is backwards sneezing during the night.
What Can You Do if Your Dog Is Reverse Sneezing at Night?
Reverse sneezing in dogs may happen anytime of the day, but do not be alarmed if it occurs at night while your puppy is sleeping or when he is getting ready to go to bed.
Although the things that you can do to help your pup when he is doing the backwards “achoo” depend on what is actually causing it, here are some suggestions:
· If you think that your canine is just feeling too warm because of the extra pillows, cushions, or blanket, then you can try to eliminate some of them. Maybe he does not really want to be covered up.
· Wash your puppy’s bedding as it could be dirty already. And when you do so, make sure that it is rinsed properly to get rid of detergent residues that may also irritate your pet.
· You can move your pup’s sleeping location too.
· Pinch his nose and rub his throat. This should help him stop reverse sneezing and swallow instead.
Is a puppy more likely to reverse sneeze at night?
Since vets don’t exactly know what triggers reverse sneezing, it seems that there is no obvious medical reason why a puppy should be more likely to reverse sneeze than an adult dog.
But I do have a couple of environmental factors that might make this more likely.
Firstly, I think that it is true to say that puppies are more likely to be sleeping with their owners than older dogs.
Partly because they are cute but also because we sleep with puppies to avoid their painful cries that come from being seperated from us at night.
A potential cause of reverse sneezing is when a dog gets buried in a blanket or quilt when they are sleeping.
And if a puppy is sharing our bed, then the duvet can be a trigger.
A second environmental factor of reverse sneezing are allergens.
As any of us with puppies know, they are incredibly curious and inquisitive.
They are much more likely to stick their nose into all sorts of places that an older dog just can’t be bothered to.
And this means that that allergens such as pollen and dust are more likely to get right up into a puppy’s nasal passages and lie there in wait for the best moment to cause a sneezing fit.
How Long Does Reverse Sneezing Last at Night?
An episode may last for a few seconds up to a few minutes. In fact, reverse sneezing does not only happen at night. It may also occur anytime during the day. But the bottom line is, you can actually shorten the episode.
Once you notice that your dog is doing it, try to close his nasal openings for a few seconds while gently massaging his throat. This should help clear the palate and stop the reverse sneeze.
Once your puppy has stopped backwards sneezing, he should be able to go back to his normal behavior. Simply put, this is not something that you should worry about as it is generally not dangerous, although it is important that you help your dog out once it occurs.
How Do You Recognize When a Dog Is Reverse Sneezing?
For dog owners who are not familiar with reverse sneezing, they may either find it funny or scary when their see their pets do so. If you are still unsure of how this episode really occurs, it is important that you do your homework. You can also watch videos.
In general, you would know that your puppy is sneezing backwards if he starts to make a loud, startling, weird noise that sounds like he is choking or trying to swallow something and he can’t.
As the term suggests, reverse sneezing is the opposite of the regular “achoo”. Instead of the air being pushed out of the nose, it is pulled in or forced through the nasal cavity. Your dog may also extend his head and neck as he tries to take in long aspirations.
The best way to describe the sound produced when reverse sneezing is like that of snorting or clearing the throat. Your puppy would also stand still and act like he is going to vomit. In other cases, a dog’s eyes may bulge as well.
9 Other Possible Causes of Backwards Sneezing?
Up to these days, the exact cause of reverse sneezing has not been established yet. But it is thought that anything that can irritate the nasal cavities may lead to this phenomenon.
Aside from the things that we have mentioned earlier, the following may also trigger your dog to reverse sneeze:
· Nasal infection
· Nasal irritants, such as pollen and dust
· Pulling on the leash
· Tight Collar
· Change in temperature
· Exercise intolerance
· Elongated soft palates
When a dog gets excited, he tends to breathe faster and harder, and this could cause irritants and other foreign particles to get lodged to his nose, which, in turn, lead to reverse sneezing.
We also have listed pulling on the leash and a tight collar in the list as these things can irritate a puppy’s throat as well.
Furthermore, there are some types of dogs, like pugs and bulldogs that come with elongated soft palates. With this, there are instances when they suck the palate into their throat, which triggers pharyngeal gag reflex too.
As for the change in temperature, particularly when it gets too warm, dogs tend to catch their breath, and this is another factor that could trigger spasm of the throat and soft palate. The same is true when a puppy is too active or when he is exercising.
Six ways to naturally stop reverse sneezing in dogs
Since the exact cause of inspiratory paroxysmal respiration is still unknown, we can’t really say that there is a cure for it. On the other hand, there are numerous things that you can do to possibly stop it naturally. Take a look at the following:
 Use natural products
When it comes to the products that you use for your pet, it is highly recommended that you go for those that are natural, whether it be flea treatments or shampoo and conditioner. With natural products, you will be able to reduce your dog’s exposure to allergens.
 Give purified water
Instead of giving your canine tap water to drink, it would be best if you serve purified water. Take note that hard water may also contain bacteria and chemicals that could irritate your dog.
 Give supplements
To boost your dog’s immune system, it is advisable that you also give some supplements. This should increase his resistance against infections, irritations, or allergies.
 Use a harness
Instead of using a tight collar and putting your dog on a leash, it would be better if you let him use a harness instead. This will avoid putting more pressure on his throat, which could lead to reverse sneezing.
 Avoid chemicals altogether
As much as possible, you should go for eco-friendly products when shopping for house cleaning materials. You also need to avoid utilizing air freshener as all of these could irritate your canine’s nasal cavities.
 Clean regularly
To eliminate dust and other irritants in your home, you should make it a habit to clean. If you sleep with your dog, make sure that your mattress and linens are clean. If your pet has his own bedding, then ensure that they are allergen-free as well.
Reverse sneezing may sound scary, but you should know that it is not dangerous. It may occur both during the day and night, and so, you need to help your puppy out once it does. Simply close his nasal openings for a few seconds and rub his throat.
While there is no specific cure for it, there are things that you can do to ultimately lessen its occurrence.
¹ Photo by Andrés Gómez on Unsplash
² Photo by Sana Saidi on Unsplash
³ Photo by Khamkéo Vilaysing on Unsplash
⁴ Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash
⁵ Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash
⁶ Photo by Crema Joe on Unsplash