If you want to see staff at King’s Trail Animal Hospital make some funny noises, tell them that you think that your pet is gagging at times. Often, if you are lucky, you will see us do our best impression of a reverse sneeze in an attempt to confirm what we think is likely happening with your pet. 

When pets reverse sneeze, it can sound pretty scary. Thankfully most times it is no major pet emergency. Learn why a reverse sneeze happens and when you need to worry.

All About Reflexes

The reverse sneeze is probably the most common out-of-the-ordinary noise that pets make that causes their caretakers to panic. 

Reverse sneezing can look pretty terrifying if you don’t know what is going on. When it occurs, the pet often stands with the neck extended then pulls it back when inhaling in a dramatic manner through the nose, often several times in a row. This creates a lovely gagging type of noise. 

The reverse sneeze is actually a reflex very similar to a more traditional sneeze. It occurs when the back of the throat versus the nasal passages are stimulated. It is simply an effort the body is making to clear something irritating. Thankfully a reverse sneeze is typically no big deal at all.

When To Worry About a Reverse Sneeze

As with most things in life, though, anything in excess is probably bad. While most reverse sneezing episodes are nothing to rush in to see us over, there are some situations that might make you want to give us a call.

Any time a pet is having problems that affect breathing, it is probably best for us to evaluate things. Even just reverse sneezing can be indicative of airborne allergies, a foreign object in the airway, or a growth of some kind if it is persistent.

We should see your pet right away if:

  • Your pet’s breathing is labored
  • The gums or tongue are blue or grey
  • Your pet is overall less active or weak
  • There is discharge from the eyes or nose
  • Your pet seems to be distressed or painful
  • Reverse sneeze episodes are becoming more frequent or intense