Ask Nancy: Gasp, Snort, Honk – What IS that noise?

Ask Nancy is a weekly column of general pet advice. This column is not meant to replace  your veterinarian or animal emergency room.  If your pet is  sick we recommend that you seek professional advice immediately.

A reverse sneeze sounds like a cross between coughing and gasping for breath and can last for a couple of minutes. You may also see drooling with this.

You can read up on reverse sneezing here: It may be from the soft palate getting irritated. If the palate is a bit swollen, and gets stuck, the reverse sneeze can help get it back in the right position.

Here are a couple of videos of reverse sneezing – turn on speakers to get the full effect.

Often the episode stops as the dog gags and it may be that is the point the soft palate is getting back in place.

You might see if a doggy popsicle will help with any inflammation in the area. You can mix baby food meats or some canned dog food with water to make frozen treats for the dog in an ice cube tray or small plastic cups (peel off the cup before giving to the dog). Cold can reduce the inflammation triggering the reverse sneezes.

If your vet has not as yet checked out the soft palate area that is one good choice to investigate.  Taking a look at the tonsils might be a good idea too as they swell if infected and can impact breathing.

If your dog has any dental issues the dental bacteria can lead to tonsil infection as the bacteria from the teeth flows right down the throat. If that is the problem then antibiotics and dental care may work to resolve this. If you have not checked for parasites you may want to do that as some intestinal worms pass through the lungs on the way to the intestinal tract which can cause gagging and irritation. There are also irritants such as nasal mites which can trigger nasal problems.  You can read more about nasal issues in the dog here: It has a good illustration of the complexity of the dog’s nose along with info on causes of sneezing and discharge.

A reverse sneeze is scary sounding but is not really dangerous. Just make sure to have your vet check that the sound is not from the more serious collapsing trachea:


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