Large black dog sneezing

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Have you ever heard your dog make a sound like they’re inhaling a sneeze? Reverse sneezing is a medical condition that can cause dogs to make a noise that sounds like they’re sneezing in reverse, and it can happen for a variety of reasons. While it can be scary when a dog reverse sneezes, reverse sneezing in dogs isn’t typically something you have to worry about.

Because reverse sneezing in dogs isn’t typically viewed as a major medical concern, treatment—if any is necessary—is generally straightforward. Most reverse sneezing attacks are fairly short-lived and present no serious danger to your dog. However, you might want to talk to your vet about treating the underlying cause of reverse sneezing because it can be caused by dog allergies and a number of other conditions.

You can learn more about what reverse sneezing is, why dogs reverse sneeze, and how to treat reverse sneezing by reading this article from start to finish. You can also use the links below to skip to any section in this article.

What Is Reverse Sneezing In Dogs?

Reverse sneezing in dogs is a medical condition that causes dogs to inhale their sneezes. Typically, reverse sneezing occurs in episodes, and it may appear that your dog has trouble sneezing for a minute or so. While most episodes stop in a minute or less, reverse sneezing episodes have been known to last longer in some cases.¹

Dogs can reverse sneeze for many different reasons, so it’s important to look at any other symptoms your dog may be exhibiting. In general, reverse sneezing occurs when a dog’s soft palate becomes inflamed or irritated. However, several things can cause the soft palate to become irritated.² 

Reverse sneezing in dogs typically takes place when the dog's soft palate becomes irritated.

You could be dealing with dog allergies or your dog could be reverse sneezing as a result of some sort of irritation near the throat. Watch out for symptoms such as coughing in dogs, nasal discharge, and labored breathing when trying to determine the root cause of why your dog is reverse sneezing.

What Does a Dog’s Reverse Sneeze Sound Like?

As a pet parent, it’s important to know what a reverse sneeze sounds like. Reverse sneezing in dogs may sound like your dog is sneezing and inhaling at the same time. If you’re not sure whether or not your dog is reverse sneezing, you can always take a video to show to your vet.

It’s also important to note that reverse sneezing in dogs often occurs in episodes, with most episodes lasting less than a minute. You should make a note of how long these episodes last because it may help your vet determine the cause of your dog’s reverse sneezing.

What Causes a Dog to Reverse Sneeze?

There are a number of factors that can cause a dog to reverse sneeze. Diagnosing the cause of a reverse sneeze is important because, while the reverse sneezing itself may be harmless, the underlying cause of the reverse sneezing may pose a bigger issue. With that being said, here are some of the common causes of reverse sneezing in dogs²:

  • Allergies
  • Pulling too hard on the leash
  • Environmental allergens (dust, seeds, pollen, smoke, cleaning products)
  • Irritation around throat 
  • Elongated soft palate

Figuring out the underlying cause of your dog’s reverse sneezing means taking a trip to the vet. Because there are so many potential causes of reverse sneezing in dogs, it’s important to visit a vet to get a proper diagnosis. An itchy dog may be reverse sneezing as a result of allergies, or they may have nasal mites that are bothering them. Treating the underlying cause is one of the keys to treating reverse sneezing in dogs, so you should talk to a vet if you notice an unusual number of reverse sneezing episodes in your dog.

Is Reverse Sneezing In Dogs Dangerous?

As a pet parent, reverse sneezing can be scary. When you hear your dog having a reverse sneezing episode, you may be wondering if they’re in any danger. The good news is, you typically don’t have anything to worry about if your dog is reverse sneezing. Plus, reverse sneezing episodes don’t typically last for long, so your dog should stop their reverse sneezing shortly after beginning.

While reverse sneezing in dogs isn’t particularly dangerous, it’s important to visit a vet to figure out why your dog is reverse sneezing. Your vet can help you determine the underlying cause of reverse sneezing and decide on a treatment option that works for your dog. Treating the underlying cause of your dog’s reverse sneezing typically resolves the issue. 

If you’re really worried about reverse sneezing, you should record a video of your dog reverse sneezing and show it to your vet. A vet can determine whether your dog is reverse sneezing and help you decide what to do about it. You should always visit a vet if reverse sneezing is accompanied by frequent dog vomiting, heavy panting, or other more serious symptoms.

How to Treat Reverse Sneezing In Dogs

Because reverse sneezing in dogs can be caused by so many different things, treating reverse sneezing typically means treating the underlying cause of the condition. Reverse sneezing in some dogs may be caused by allergies or an elongated soft palate in others. The first step in treating reverse sneezing in dogs is to visit your vet.

When you take your dog to the vet, they’ll look for signs of medical conditions that may be causing your dog to reverse sneeze. Your vet may run allergy tests and they’ll probably ask you some questions about your dog’s home environment. There aren’t necessarily tests to determine the cause of reverse sneezing, and there’s no specific medication to treat it. Instead, any treatment methods will likely be aimed at the underlying condition causing your dog’s reverse sneezing. 

There are also some tricks you can try to stop your dog’s reverse sneezing. Some people gently cover their dog’s nostrils during a reverse sneezing episode, which can make the dog swallow and get rid of whatever is causing the reverse sneezing.² You can also try to gently massage your dog’s throat to help soothe irritation and relax muscles in the throat area, as well as blow on your dog’s face or softly press down on their tongue.³ 

Potential treatments for reverse sneezing.

How to Prevent Reverse Sneezing In Dogs

As a pet parent, there’s a lot you can do to help prevent reverse sneezing in dogs. Because reverse sneezing is often a result of dust, pollen, and other irritants in the air, you should try to keep the air in your home as clean as possible. Cleaning your home regularly can help reduce the number of irritants and make it possible for your dog to breathe without irritation.

If you tend to use candles or other fragrances in the home, you might want to quit using them for a period to see whether it has an effect on the frequency of your dog’s reverse sneezing. Dogs can be sensitive to the fragrances used in candles, incense, and oil diffusers.²

Another thing you can do to prevent reverse sneezing in dogs is keep your dog’s bed clean. Take the bedding that your dog sleeps on and throw it in the wash every week or so, and make sure you regularly vacuum the area around your dog’s bed to get rid of excess dust, dirt, and bacteria.

Reverse Sneezing In Dogs: Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my dog reverse sneezing so much?

There are many potential causes for reverse sneezing in dogs, but your dog could be reverse sneezing as a result of something they’re breathing in. If your dog is experiencing repeated reverse sneezing episodes, schedule an appointment with your vet. Your vet can help you determine the cause of reverse sneezing so you can decide how to treat it.

If your dog is reverse sneezing as a result of general air pollutants, you can try using fewer candles and other scented products they may be sensitive to. You can also try switching to hypoallergenic bedding that may provide relief if your dog has allergies.

When should I worry about reverse sneezing in my dog?

While reverse sneezing in dogs is fairly common, you should keep an eye on your dog if you notice them reverse sneezing. Most reverse sneezing episodes last for no longer than a minute, but some episodes can last for several minutes. It’s also important to consider how often your dog is reverse sneezing. A dog who’s reverse sneezing frequently and experiencing longer episodes should see a vet.

If you’re at all worried about reverse sneezing in dogs, you schedule a visit with your vet. Your vet can run some basic tests to figure out what’s causing your dog’s reverse sneezing, then they can help you come up with a treatment plan that works for your dog.

How do I treat reverse sneezing in my dog?

The good news about reverse sneezing in dogs is that it’s typically pretty easy to treat. More often than not, your dog will stop reverse sneezing after a short time. If your dog continues to sneeze, you can gently cover their nostrils to encourage them to swallow and clear a potential blockage in their throat.²

If you want to prevent episodes of reverse sneezing, you’ll need to treat the underlying cause of the condition. Try keeping your house clean, regularly wash your dog’s bedding, and avoid using candles and other scented products in your home. Monitor your dog’s condition and see whether their reverse sneezing episodes stop. 

Final Notes

Dog sneezing with flowers behind it.

While reverse sneezing in dogs can be a scary sound for pet parents to hear, you don’t have too much to worry about. Reverse sneezing can be caused by a wide range of factors, including allergies, environmental allergens, and more. Keep in mind that it’s important to take your dog to the vet if they’re experiencing frequent reverse sneezing episodes, or if episodes last for more than a minute or so.

If your dog won’t stop reverse sneezing, it’s time to talk to a vet. Lucky for you, Dutch makes it easy to find a vet who can help you. Dutch offers telemedicine for pets, so you can schedule online video consultations, receive ongoing care, and get prescriptions for your pet delivered directly to your door. If your dog needs help with reverse sneezing or any other health condition, contact Dutch today.



  1. Klein, Jerry. “What Happens When a Dog Reverse Sneezes?” American Kennel Club, American Kennel Club, 25 May 2021,

  2. Lundgren, Becky. “Reverse Sneezing in Dogs.” Veterinary Partner, Veterinary Information Network, Inc. , 9 Jan. 2020,

  3. “Gesundheit! Reverse Sneezing in Dogs.” Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University, 25 June 2020,

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