the chihuahua puppy in this video is experiencing a classic episode of reverse sneezing. it might look and sound concerning, but it’s usually harmless and often seen in small breed dogs.
what is reverse sneezing?
reverse sneezing is quite common in chihuahuas. it is also known as mechanosensitive aspiration reflex, inspiratory paroxysmal respiration, and pharyngeal gag reflex. it is caused by a spasm of the throat and soft palate that is triggered by an irritation to the throat, pharynx, or laryngeal area.
in a regular sneeze, air is pushed out through the nose. in a reverse sneeze, air is pulled rapidly and noisily in through the nose. you might think your chihuahua is choking or having a respiratory attack as the sound that occurs with reverse sneezing is sudden and startling.
typically a chihuahua will stand still with its elbows spread apart, head extended and eyes bulging as it makes a loud snorting sound that can last anywhere from a few seconds to a couple of minutes.
common triggers of reverse sneezing
- exercise intolerance
- a collar or harness that’s too tight
- pulling on the leash
- environmental irritants like pollen, perfume, household cleaners, room sprays
- a sudden change in temperature
how you can help
it’s important to remain calm when your chihuahua is having an episode or they may become anxious. you can try massaging your chihuahua’s throat or covering its nostrils briefly as this will cause it to swallow which can help clear the irritation and stop the sneezing.
if the episode prolongs, you can try putting your hand in its mouth and pressing on its tongue as this will cause it to open its mouth wider and help move air through its nose.
when to call the vet
rarely does reverse sneezing require treatment, but if you notice episodes are becoming more frequent, are longer in duration or there’s blood or yellow discharge coming from the nose, make an appointment with your vet to rule out things like a collapsing trachea, kennel cough, nasal cancer, nasal mites, tumors, or a respiratory infection.
below is a video by dr. karen becker, a proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian, who discusses reverse sneezing in dogs. it reviews everything discussed above and further educates you as a chihuahua owner on reverse sneezing.