In a regular sneeze, air is pushed out through the nose. In a reverse sneeze, air is instead pulled rapidly and noisily in through the nose. The sound of reverse sneezing is sudden and startling, and many owners wonder if their pet is choking or having an asthma attack.
Reverse sneezing is caused by a spasm of the throat and soft palate that is triggered by an irritant. Common triggers include excitement, exercise intolerance, a collar that’s too tight, pollen, perfume, a household cleaner… even a sudden change in temperature.
Intervening in a reverse sneezing episode is usually not necessary, but if you can keep track of when your pet reverse-sneezes and what he’s doing right as it happens, you can often figure out the triggers and work to avoid them.
If your pet’s reverse sneezing becomes a chronic problem, or episodes are becoming more frequent or longer in duration, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with your veterinarian to rule out other potential health problems.