Sneezing, Gagging and Reverse Sneezing in Dogs

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Sneezing refers to the act of expelling the air to remove particulate matter from the nasal cavity. On the other hand, reverse sneezing refers to the reflex action of inhaling air into the lungs to remove any irritant in the upper area behind the nostrils. Dogs gag to remove irritants from their larynx; this is usually mistaken for vomiting.

Types and symptoms

Sneezing is accompanied by a downward movement of the head, along with a closed mouth which may cause the nose of the dog to hit the ground. Conversely, reverse sneezing in characterized by a backwards motion of the head, a closed mouth and sucking in of the lips. The sound is startling and sudden, and a lot of owners tend to wonder whether their pet is having an asthma attack or choking. Brachycephalic and small breeds are more prone to this condition than other dogs. Gagging causes the dog to extend its neck, open its mouth and swallow.

Causes

All dog breeds can be affected by this medical condition. The most common cause in younger dogs are infections, cleft palates, and bronchial infections. Another cause is the movement of the cilia that line the respiratory tract and whose job is to remove foreign matter before they reach the lungs. This is called ciliary dyskinesis. Some of the other cause include mucus irritation, inflammation, obstruction of the nasal passage, excess nasal secretion or discharge, chronic vomiting, pneumonia, and G.I. disease. Dogs that are unvaccinated or under vaccinated have a greater risk of contracting an infection, which will cause consistent sneezing. Chronic dental disease can cause both reverse and chronic sneezing. Mites in the nasal openings can also cause such physical reflexes.

Diagnosis

The first step to diagnosing is to differentiate between reverse sneezing and sneezing in your dog. After that, if you find that the condition is serious, perform a more in depth testing to see if your dog has a serious underlying medical condition. Make an appointment with the vet to rule out nasal cancers, tumors or polyps, a collapsing trachea, nasal mites, respiratory infection or a kennel cough.

Treatment

In most of the cases, if the foreign matter or mucus is removed from the nasal passages, the reflexes will stop. There is no particular drug to stop the reflexes. However, if they result from some other medical condition, it can be treated. In most of the cases, a

decongestant

or an

antihistamine

will reduce the involuntary reflexes of the dog effectively.

Living and management

Your dog should avoid any form of contact with other animals when he is being treated. To get the best results, you should follow the entire course of the treatment that was prescribed by the veterinarian.

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