Reverse Sneezing in Chihuahuas - Reasons and How to Deal With It
Dog owners are very fearful when it comes to their pup’s health. From injuries and accidental poisoning to genetic health problems, your Chi’s wellbeing can be anxiety-inducing. One thing that causes a lot of stress for Chihuahua owners is reverse sneezing.
However, is reverse sneezing something to be afraid of? Let’s learn what reverse sneezing is, what causes it, what you can do to prevent it, and most importantly - if it’s dangerous to your Chi’s health.
What is a Reverse Sneezing in Chihuahuas?
A reverse sneeze (sometimes called a backward sneeze) is a respiratory event that occurs in dogs. As the name suggests, it’s the opposite of a sneeze. During a sneeze, the air is quickly pushed out of the nose, while a reverse sneeze means the air is being pulled in.
Although we don’t know the exact source of this phenomenon, it’s most likely a result of an irritation in your pup’s airways. Before we discuss the most common causes of the event, it’s important to note that reverse sneezing is not dangerous to your dog. However, it can be difficult to recognize.
How to Recognize a Reverse Sneezing in Chihuahuas?
The biggest tell-tale sign that your dog is experiencing a reverse sneeze is the sound. Unsurprisingly, it will sound like your Chi is sneezing “inward”, or snorting loudly. If you don’t know what’s happening, you may think your pup is coughing or even choking on something. On top of that, your dog will stand still and extend its neck.
Additionally, most of the time the event lasts around 30 seconds. If you notice your dog exhibiting the symptoms of reverse sneezing for over a minute, there may be a cause for concern.
However, it’s always better to be safe, rather than sorry. To be completely certain your dog is experiencing a backward sneeze and not anything more serious, try to take a video of the event and forward it to your Chi’s vet. If you’re not sure and believe your dog is choking, contact a vet immediately.
As we’ve mentioned, irritation in your pup’s respiratory system is usually the cause of reverse sneezing. As with regular sneezing and coughing, a reverse sneeze is your dog’s natural way of trying to get rid of the irritant.
The most common irritants include:
- Household supplies (such as air fresheners and cleaning products)
However, an underlying issue could also be the cause of this scary event. If your dog is suffering from allergies, respiratory issues, or even heart problems - it may be more prone to experiencing reverse sneezing. Additionally, backward sneezes are more common in Chihuahuas due to their size.
Finally, your dog may reverse sneeze from excitement, a sudden change in temperature (for example, from going outside when it’s too cold/hot), and even just from eating and drinking. As a result, it’s hard to know exactly what’s causing this phenomenon in your pup, which is why we always recommend a vet check-up.
What should I do?
Most of the time, a reverse sneeze doesn’t require any special concern on your part and your dog will stop doing it after half a minute. Additionally, your pup will be completely normal before and after an episode, so all you really need to do is just wait until the time passes.
However, we all know it’s not easy to watch your dog struggling while you sit there and do nothing. The most important thing you should do is try to keep your Chi calm, as it’s probably as confused by the event as you are. Talk to your pup in a warm, calming matter, lightly pet its head, or put it in a place where it feels safe.
For a more direct approach, try firmly holding your dog’s chest until it’s over. Some dogs will respond if you hold their nostrils closed for a few seconds, massage their throats, or even just blow in their face. You can also take your Chi outside to get some fresh air and clear out some of the irritation.
Most cases of reverse sneezing don’t require any treatment or even a visit to the vet’s office. However, in the rare cases when you should be worried about your Chi’s health, the treatment depends on multiple factors, the most important of which is the cause of reverse sneezing. The most you can do is try to prevent it.
To prevent this event from happening (or reduce the likelihood), make sure your pooch stays away from any potential irritants. Try switching to homemade cleaning supplies, and make sure you’re on top of the dusting in your home. Vacuum often and don’t use any air fresheners.
Additionally, try to be mindful of where you take your dog for a walk. Avoid areas with a high pollen count, or dusty and sandy locations, like the beach or near a construction site. Although a backward sneeze is harmless, there’s no reason not to take a few precautionary measures to prevent it from happening.
Note: Never give your dog medication before consulting with a professional.
When to see a Vet?
If you’re confident you can recognize that your pooch is, in fact, experiencing a reverse sneeze - you don’t need to visit the vet’s office. You should take a recording of it just in case, and send it to your vet for diagnosis - but your dog will be fine. Reverse sneezing should be looked at more closely if:
- It happens often (some dogs only experience it once or twice a year)
- It lasts more than 60 seconds
- If your dog has any chronic health issues
- If your Chi is older and hasn’t had it before
- If it’s accompanied by other symptoms of a bigger problem (coughing blood, vomiting, shivering, etc.)
- If your Chihuahua is lethargic after an episode (dogs should begin to act normally as soon as the sneezing stops)
It’s also important to note that Chihuahuas are more prone to having these issues than larger dogs. In fact, the scariest cause of reverse sneezing in Chihuahuas is a collapsing trachea, which is, sadly, common in our favorite breed.
As a result, don’t be afraid to visit the vet even if your dog doesn’t exhibit any of the symptoms above. Your veterinarian will do some blood work, allergy tests, X-rays, etc. to make sure your pup is doing great. If you’re feeling anxious about the entire ordeal, a trip to the clinic may give you the peace of mind you need.
To conclude, reverse sneezing happens when your dog rapidly inhales air through its nose. Although it's fairly uncommon, a reverse sneeze is usually nothing to worry about. It’s just your pup’s way of trying to get rid of irritation in its pathways.
However, a reverse sneeze can be difficult to recognize. As a result, it’s important to stay calm to ensure your Chi isn’t choking on an object or a piece of food. Additionally, you may need to help your dog get through the event as calmly as possible.
Finally, although reverse sneezing is mostly harmless, it may be a sign of an underlying health issue. If your dog is experiencing this phenomenon often, don’t hesitate to contact a vet. After all, your Chi’s health is a priority.