Another common question I have been asked by canine guardians over the years as the PetMeds Ask the Vet is, what is going on with their pets who have a history of making an odd respiratory noise often with a rapid and spasmodic inward snorting that seems to be coming from their throats. Many guardians become extremely concerned as these episodes can sometimes go on for several minutes, and even awaken a pet at night from their sleep. Many pets will express this symptom when overly excited or nervous, such as when people come to the house, or when making trips to the veterinary office.
The fear many guardians has is that their pet is having some sort of asthma or choking attack. What they are actually seeing in most cases is a phenomenon known as “reverse sneeze” syndrome of dogs. While in most cases we don’t know what causes some pets to develop this syndrome at varying frequencies, canine guardians feel comforted to know that such an issue is not health threatening to their canine companion in most cases. Some have used an analogy that this is sort of a dog’s version of responding to a post nasal drip. Other times allergens can trigger it. Some holistic veterinarians feel that the “reverse sneeze” syndrome is an example of a chronic effect seen as a side effect of rabies vaccination.
No matter what the cause, simply comforting your pet by rubbing their throat for several minutes usually helps during an acute flare-up. I have used natural calming agents like 1800PetMeds’ Be Serene as well as Rescue Remedy from the health food store, which sometimes shortens the duration of the episode. If the symptoms seem triggered by allergens outside, than sometimes a trial dose of an antihistamine may be worthwhile such as Diphenhydramine (Generic Benadryl), Clemastine, or Chlorpheniramine may be helpful as well, in addition to the immune booster Vetri-DMG liquid. If in doubt about whether your pet is suffering from this common and harmless syndrome, it is always best to have a complete veterinary exam to rule out other less common conditions.