Show your support

What You Need to Know About Reverse Sneezing in Pugs

If you have never owned a Pug before you may not be familiar with another one of their unique habits – reverse sneezing. This can be alarming for new Pug owners but it isn’t necessarily something to worry about, though you should keep an eye on it.

What is Reverse Sneezing?

Pugs are one of several short-faced breeds that have pushed-in, flat faces. These dogs are also called brachycephalic breeds since they general suffer from something known as brachycephalic syndrome. This is not actually a disease but a set of anatomical anomalies which can lead to breathing difficulties. Brachycephalic breeds often have stenotic nares (narrow nostrils), an elongated soft palate and everted laryngeal saccules. These anomalies can combine to restrict the Pug’s breathing when he is exercising, overheating, or becoming overly excited.

Reverse sneezing in Pugs is related to these brachycephalic anomalies. It occurs when the dog’s soft palate and throat spasm in response to some kind of irritant. In an effort to clear the irritant, the dog rapidly inhales through the nose, often making a kind of honking sound as he does. This is also referred to as a pharyngeal gag reflex or paroxysmal respiration. Many Pugs exhibit reverse sneezing as a response to common allergens like dust, dirt, and pollen but it can also be triggered by inflammation, infection, and rapid eating or drinking.

Treatment and Management for Reverse Sneezing

You will be glad to know that reverse sneezing is generally not a dangerous condition for Pugs. It usually develops in older dogs, though it can develop during puppyhood in some cases. In addition to the rapid inhale and the accompanied honking noise, your Pug might also extend his neck and his eyes may bulge as well. Sometimes it looks like your Pug is having a seizure, though this is not actually the case.

Episodes of reverse sneezing usually only last from a few seconds up to a few minutes and most dogs do not suffer any lasting damage. To help your Pug recover from an episode, try petting him slowly and speak to him calmly to help him calm down so that he can resume normal breathing. Gently massaging your Pug’s throat or covering his nostrils to encourage him to swallow (and thus clear the irritant from his throat) may also be helpful in some cases.

Though reverse sneezing is generally not a dangerous condition for Pugs, it can contribute to other problems like heat exhaustion if your Pug becomes too hot and cannot breathe normally. If your Pug suffers frequent bouts of reverse sneezing you may want to take him to the vet to rule out any underlying respiratory issues and to see whether medication might help to reduce the frequency or severity of his episodes.

If your Pug also suffers from anatomical abnormalities which contribute to brachycephalic syndrome, your vet may even recommend surgical correction of the problem.

Photo credit: Serges/Bigstock