All you Need to Know about the Reverse Sneezing in French Bulldogs

French bulldog frenchie frenchie love health reverse sneezing

How many times did you see your French Bulldog like snorting or choking? Like he can't breath properly. Some people that don't know what it is may thing his Frenchie it's choking and they get scared and take them to the vet. 

First of all, Don't panic! This is what is called a Reverse Sneezing and in this article we will explain you everything about it.

What is the Reverse Sneezing?

Reverse sneezing -- also known as mechanosensitive aspiration reflex, inspiratory paroxysmal respiration, and pharyngeal gag reflex – is actually a fairly common respiratory event in dogs. It happens more often in small breed dogs, perhaps because they have smaller throats and windpipes.

Brachycephalic breeds, like pugs and bulldogs, with elongated soft palates, occasionally suck the palate into the throat, which can cause an episode of reverse sneezing.

Dr. Karen Becker, a proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian discusses reverse sneezing.

How to recognise an Episode of Reverse Sneezing

In a regular sneeze, air is pushed out through the nose. In a reverse sneeze, air is pulled rapidly and noisily in through the nose. For some dogs, it’s a more or less normal event. Just as sneezing is a part of life, reverse sneezing is also a part of many dogs’ lives. 

The sound that accompanies reverse sneezing is kind of a sudden, startling sound that makes many dog owners think their pet is either choking or having an asthma attack.

A dog who is reverse sneezing typically stands still with his elbows spread apart, head extended or back, eyes bulging as he makes this loud snorting sound. The strange stance on top of the strange snorting sound is why many dogs end up getting rushed to the veterinarian or the emergency clinic by their panicked parents. 

Episodes of reverse sneezing can last from a few seconds to a minute or two. As soon as it passes, the dog breathes perfectly normally once again and behaves as if nothing happened.

This is how Reversed Sneezing looks.

French Bulldog in a Reversed Sneezing Episode.

What are the causes?

There are many causes for reverse sneezing in dogs, and irritants are often the culprit. Common irritants include, but are not limited to, the following: 

  • Dust, pollen and mold spores, as well as a resulting allergy to one of these irritants 
  • Perfumes and scented home products like candles and air fresheners 
  • Cleaning products 
  • Chemicals in carpets 
  • Foreign bodies in the nose or throat 
  • Presence of mites in the airways 

Other causes for these soft palate spasms include: 

  • Anxiety or over excitement 
  • Viral infections like the common cold
  • Dog collar pressing against the throat too tightly

How to help your Frenchie during an Episode of Reverse Sneezing

If your dog is having a soft palate spasm due to one of the causes listed above, you don't actually have to do anything but give your dog some time to recover on his own. However, it can be difficult to watch a dog struggle through one of these episodes, and it's natural to want to help him. 

If you can persuade your dog to swallow, this usually helps stop the spasms. You can do this in one of two ways. First, you can try gently stroking your dog's throat in a downward motion. If this doesn't encourage him to swallow, you can try placing your fingers over his nostrils for a second or two. Your dog's automatic reaction is to lick, and this is followed by a swallow. A couple of licks will usually resolve the situation, and then you can let go. It may take a few seconds more for your dog to fully recover, but this usually does the trick.

When to see a Vet

If your pet’s reverse sneezing becomes a chronic problem, or episodes are becoming more frequent or longer in duration, I recommend you make an appointment with your vet to rule out things like a potential foreign body in the respiratory tract, nasal cancers, polyps or tumors, nasal mites, a collapsing trachea, kennel cough, or a respiratory infection.

If you’re able to catch a reverse sneezing episode on video to play for your vet, it can sometimes help him or her discern what’s really happening – whether it’s reverse sneezing or perhaps something else. 

If your pet is experiencing prolonged episodes of reverse sneezing, bloody or yellow discharge from the nose, or any other accompanying respiratory problems, it’s time to make an appointment with your veterinarian.

And if you have a cat with chronic reverse sneezing, since the condition is less common in kitties, it’s important to investigate the possibility of feline asthma or an upper respiratory infection. 

Just as dogs sneeze intermittently throughout their lives, most dogs have at least a few reverse sneezing episodes during their lives as well. In the vast majority of cases, the episodes are temporary and intermittent, resolving on their own, and leave the dog with no aftereffects to be concerned about.

You can read more about French Bulldogs health on 8 Basic Care your French Bulldog needs.


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