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Dog Sneezing and Reverse Sneezing in Dogs: What You Need to Know!

Boxer sneezing on a sunny day in the park

Have you ever heard your dog sneeze or make a weird wheezing noise? This is most likely a sneeze or a reverse sneeze. A reverse sneeze can be a little scary at first for you and your dog. Once you learn what to expect and how to help them remain calm, these events will become less scary for both. If your dog seems in real distress from and the sneezing does not stop after just a few minutes, seek veterinary attention as this may be something more serious. This article explains all about sneezes and what you can do to help them and lessens the amount it scares them and you.

What is a sneeze?

A sneeze is when a dog quickly and forcefully expellees air from their nose. This is usually due to something getting into their nostrils. This can either be a smell, pollen, or a small object. This is the body's way of getting this out of their noses.

What is reverse sneezing in dogs?

A reverse sneeze is when a dog quickly sucks air into their nose. The cause of this is unknown but believed to be due to allergies or pollen entering the nose.

What causes sneezing in dogs?

Beagle sneezing in a field full of dead brush

There are many reasons a dog may sneezes. This is usually to get something unwanted out of their nose. A sneeze will forcefully expel the material out.


Allergies are a common cause of a dog sneezing. If you live in a high pollen area, during the time that you also are suffering from allergies your dog may also be sneezing a lot more than usual. Dogs are constantly playing outside and have greater exposure to pollen. This pollen if enters their nose will cause them to sneeze

Dust or dander

If you live in a dry sandy environment when your dog is playing outside the dirty will fly up and can get in their nose. This dirt will cause irritation to their nose causing them to sneeze.

Play sneezing

When a dog is playing, they may also sneeze. This is more of an excitement sneeze as they have been breathing very heavy playing and will forcefully expel air from their nose.


There are other causes that will cause a dog to sneeze such as getting a grass seed in their nose or insect. If you are cooking with spices and your dog accidentally gets them in their nose they will also sneeze. Anything that could possibly accidentally enter their nose will cause a dog to sneeze.

What causes reverse sneezing?

Terrier reverse sneezing in their living room

The exact cause of reverse sneezing is unknown. Many veterinarians think that it is due to allergies or a long soft pallet. There are a few reasons that a dog will have a reverse sneeze. Some dogs never reverse sneeze and some dog reverse sneeze way more often.

Brachycephalic breeds

Brachycephalic dog breeds are those will short stubby noses such as bulldogs, Boston terriers, and pugs. These dogs have a short, narrowed nasal cavity and a long soft pallet. These dogs are more prone to reverse sneezing since. Their long soft pallet can get stuck to the roof of their mouths and they will reverse sneeze by quickly sucking in air through their nose causing their pallet to become unstuck.

Overweight dogs

Overweight dogs also reverse sneeze more than fit dogs. When your dog is overweight, they store fat everywhere possible even around the neck area. This causes the airways to be smaller due to all the extra fat around them. This will lead to harder times breathing and reverse sneezing.

Small breeds

Small breed dogs tend to reverse sneeze more than bigger dogs. This is due to their airways just being narrower than bigger dogs. Smaller dogs are prone to more problems with their airways because their openings are just so small. It is very easy for allergens and dust to get stuck in their nose causing them to sneeze more.

What should you be concerned with in sneezing dogs?

Fluffy White Dog sneezing in a field full of flowers

Usually, a sneeze or reverse sneeze is nothing to be conserved with. If your dog is sneezing a lot more than normal or has green discharge coming from their nose this is usually a sign of an infection. Sometimes when a dog is sneezing, they have a hard time also breathing in between sneezes this can cause their tongue to turn a purplish-blue color. If you notice any of these signs take your dog to your veterinarian as soon as possible.

How to help your dog having a sneezing attack?

If your dog is having a sneezing attack or reverse sneezing, the best thing to do is to remain calm. Dogs sense stress from their owners and while they are having a sneezing attack the last thing, they need is more stress. Hold your dog or sit near them. If you can rub their throat a little bit, it will help get them to swallow and the sneezing will decrease. If your dog gets anxious when they are having a sneeze attack CBD may be a good option to introduce to your dog during allergy season.

Sold out

A reverse sneezing can be very scary at first. Remain calm and help your dog realize that everything is going to be okay they will easily learn how to deal with their sneezes. If you notice that your dog is in distress that does not go away take them to the veterinary hospital immediately, what seems like a simple sneeze could be something much more.

Meet The Author 

Dr. Sara Ochoa DVM


Since she was a little girl, Dr. Ochoa knew that her dream was to become a veterinarian. With a tremendous passion and love for animals, she is now a great source of knowledge for others. Dr. Ochoa lives happily with her husband Greg and her babies: Ruby the Schnoodle and Bam-Bam the bunny.

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