Achoo – Did My Dog Just Cough or Sneeze?

Layla Sneeze

Photo courtesy of Hadley Parritz.

A popular phone call we receive here at Blum is that owners think their dog is coughing due to a snorting-type of noise. With the Canine Influenza outbreak in Chicago in 2015, especially in the Lakeview area, many owners are very vigilant about any type of cough-like sound their dog produces.

Many times the noise that the dog is making is a reverse sneeze and not a cough. According to Dr. Natalie Marks, one of the owners and veterinarians at Blum, a “reverse sneeze is actually a reflex, a spasm of the roof of the mouth, creating a repetitive sound that is quite scary when first witnessed! Dogs will snort and then breathe in quickly in a continuous pattern for a variable period of time. Thankfully, this is a reflex and is hard to watch, but not at all life-threatening. It is usually caused by an inhalant allergy and is typically worst in the spring and fall.”

Reverse sneezing is most common in the brachycephalic breeds (smushed nose) such as pugs, Boston terriers and bulldogs due to their elongated soft palates. Episodes can last anywhere from a few seconds to a couple minutes, and while it is a concerning sound, it does not require any treatment from your veterinarian. The most important thing to remember if your dog starts reverse sneezing is to remain calm.

If you still have questions and are trying to determine if your dog is coughing or possibly had a reverse sneezing episode, click here for more info about types of coughs and the causes for them. Although anytime you are concerned about a noise that your dog is making, please don’t hesitate to call us at: (773) 327-4446 to speak with a Veterinary Care Coordinator.

Written for Blum Animal Hospital by Jackie Sheppard.