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Reverse Sneezing In Chihuahuas

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Reverse Sneezing in ChihuahuasHave you heard of reverse sneezing? As dog owners, we often fear for the worst when we hear strange noises from our pets – and Chihuahua parents are no exception. If anything, we can tend to overreact when it comes to the safety of our furry little friends!

Among the many interesting noise phenomena that our canines are capable of, reverse sneezing is one that’s often a cause for extreme alarm among lovers of these pint-sized pups. For the most part, though, this behavior is often short-lived and harmless for your friend on four paws, even though it can look and sound like an emergency for your Chi.

It’s a good idea, too, to know the difference between this harmless reflex and more serious respiratory issues like collapsing trachea, another common health problem for Chihuahuas or Kennel Cough, which is common among all dogs.

First, what is reverse sneezing? Well, when your dog sneezes in their regular manner, air is pushed out through their nose. A reverse sneeze is exactly as described – air is pulled in though your pup’s nose instead (essentially a backwards sneeze), usually making a very distinct sound that is head-turning for a pet parent, to say the least!

During an episode of reverse sneezing, dogs will usually breathe in rapidly and stand still with their heads stretched out and their legs apart, making a loud snorting or honking noise that might sound like he’s choking on something. Some owners even describe it as looking and sounding very similar to a cat trying to bring up a hairball!

Generally, reverse sneezing episodes in dogs last no more than a minute or two though, with dogs acting normally in between episodes.

Here’s a video that shows a pug doing the reverse sneezing thing and what a Vet has to say about it.

In comparison, tracheal collapse is a condition in which your pup’s trachea partially collapses or flattens out as your Chi is trying to breath. This particular problem causes irritation to your dog’s airway, and results in gagging, coughing or wheezing symptoms, all of which are quite distinctive and different from reverse sneezing.

When in doubt as to what might be causing your pup to produce odd breathing sounds, take advantage of modern technology and try to record video of your dog’s behavior for your vet, since this can give them a much clearer picture of the symptoms your canine companion might be experiencing.

The jury is still out on determining the exact cause for reverse sneezing in our pups, though it seems to serve the purpose of getting rid of irritating nasal intruders like dust, dirt and pollens. In Chihuahuas, who seem to have a higher incidence of reverse sneezing than many breeds, things like drinking too fast, over-excitement, and use of a collar instead of a harness while walking are all potential triggers.

It’s also thought that canine allergies or inflammation of a dog’s nasal passages can also contribute to the incidence of these episodes, too, and the behavior isn’t just limited to our small Chi sidekicks – any breed, age or sex of dog can experience reverse sneezing incidents.

I love this video of how Dr. Karen Becker explains reverse sneezing and what to do about it.

Although it can be impossible to predict episodes of reverse sneezing, there are a few things that you can do to help your pup at the time. Massaging your Chihuahua’s throat, gently opening their mouth or pulling on their tongue can help to stop the sneezing reflex, as can offering them a small amount of food or water. If  these things don’t help, then briefly and gently pinching your pup’s nostrils closed may help stop the sneezing spasm, too (no more than 3-4 seconds, for example).

Most reverse sneezing episodes are completely harmless and your Chihuahua will probably recover problem free, but there are some occasions that should be cause for concern. Constant episodes of reverse sneezing  throughout the day, or an increasing frequency of them are good reasons to get in touch with your Chihuahua’s veterinarian.

Keep an eye on your pup for other serious signs like: discharge from their nostrils, nosebleeds, difficulty breathing, odd facial appearance or change in appetite – these could potentially signal that there’s something more serious going on with your furry family member, like a viral infection, polyps, nasal mites or even a cancerous growth.

If you suspect your pup is sneezing because of allergies, your vet may be able to discuss giving your dog an antihistamine at certain times of year to decrease your dog’s reactivity to annoying airborne particles, too.

In the end, even if your Chihuahua has never experienced an episode of reverse sneezing, it’s never a bad idea to educate yourself about this condition, as these cute little canines do tend to be more prone to a reverse sneezing reflex. Knowing what to expect and being prepared in advance of an episode allows you to keep calm and help your dog effectively to recover and continue their day happy and stress-free!

It is possible that your dog can have a more serious condition called tracheal collapse. If you’d like to learn more check out this article about tracheal collapse.

And just to make you feel a little more at ease about this condition, I had a wonderful poodle mix (who was a therapy dog for nursing homes and hospitals) who dealt with reverse sneezing through out his whole life and he lived to be one month shy of his 19th birthday.

Click to find about other chihuahua health problems.

Cathy signature Chi








reverse sneezing in dogs


Sunday 29th of August 2021

Thank you for this article. My dogs do this and the dog I am fostering does this quite a bit. I am printing your article for the lucky person adopting this sweet baby girl.


Sunday 29th of August 2021

I'm so glad you found it helpful Lisa!


Friday 7th of May 2021

Hi my male chihuahua is 3 1/2 years old when he was 2 months old he started having seizures that I found if while he was having the seizure i would rub a little maple syrup on his gums and it would slowly make him stop, then he wouldn’t have another one for a rear and a half later I would do the same thing and he would slowly stop seizing and just be drained so I started him on the CBD oil (Very Little) and it seamed to work for about 2 years and out of the blue started having them a little more often still using the maple syrup and suddenly he just stop eating period I didn’t have a regular vet nor was I working and I didn’t know what to do next so we where on day 5 no food and you couldn’t even touch him because he would scream like something was broken so we rushed him to the closest emergency vet hospital and they did blood work ex rays and did a valley fever test and he tested positive for valley fever and has been on fluconazole since December of last year and was charged $977.00 for a valley fever test and blood work $325.00 and exrays $289.00 he has gotten a little better but his weight has gone from 7 lbs to 11 lbs in 5 month and I have to fight home to get him to eat and I can’t even now get him any kind of pet ins because he has now a preexisting disease and I’m still paying on his last vet visit the good news is I’m working now and paying off the vet bill and I’ve called around to differant vet clinics which I know it’s going cost especially beings I can’t get ins. But also it’s been 5 months since the last test and does he even still need and he also should have his thyroid checked and will need his shots updated so my question is does any one know of a good compassionate vet that cares and truly loves animals and that won’t nickel and dime me to death and to be a caring loving good vet to my fur baby my # is 602-754-0645 my name is Patricia Spencer-Clark P.S. Also if anybody knows where I can take a class on valley fever after your dog has been diagnosed and what I can do to help him get better and what to watch for while he is going thru the treatment with fluconazole


Monday 10th of May 2021

Wow, Patricia, you have really gone through a lot with your fur baby! I know nothing about valley fever so can't help you there. Good vets are hard to find. Do you have Nextdoor in your area? If so, ask on there. Also if you have any veterinary colleges in there, check with them. They need patients and will often offer their services at a reduced rate.


Friday 12th of March 2021

How much Benadral to you give your chi he is about 8lbs


Friday 12th of March 2021

1 mg per pound so 8 mg for your pup.

Nancy Griffin

Saturday 24th of October 2020

When my dog he reverse sneezing I pick him up and blow in his face and usually that stops it!


Saturday 24th of October 2020

Interesting. It's worth a try. My Ziggy seems to have developed occasional reverse sneezing. I'll try it next time he gets a coughing spell.

Rita Dean

Thursday 22nd of October 2020



Friday 23rd of October 2020

Rita I have a post on tracheal collapse that has 2 videos. One with a dog with reverse sneezing and the other with tracheal collapse so you can hear the difference.