How Do I Stop My Pug From Reverse Sneezing?

Ever notice your pug making sudden and repeated inhalations through their nasal passage, which is often followed by gagging or snorting sounds? Well, this is known as reverse sneezing syndrome, and this is everything you need to know about it.

Reverse sneezing is a respiratory response that comes in spasmodic waves, which is often speculated to be caused by inflammations of irritation in their nasal, sinus, or pharyngeal passages. It’s an involuntary reflex to remove dust, allergens, and other irritants stuck in their upper airway.

Reverse sneezing affects all dog types and is often harmless. However, if you notice your pug reverse sneezing, then the chances are that they may experience this condition throughout their lives. For those that can’t bear seeing their pet in such discomfort, there are ways in which you can stop and prevent it from constantly reoccurring.

Pug Reverse Sneeze: Signs & Symptoms

Reverse sneezing is characterized by rapid, involuntary, and repeated inhalations. This is also referred to as “pharyngeal gag reflex” or “paroxysmal respiration”. While it affects all breeds, pugs can be more susceptible to it because they are a brachycephalic breed. They’re categorized as such due to them having flat faces and short noses.

What you are likely to see is your dog stand still on its feet, extend its neck and head, and begin making honking or snorting sounds while attempting to inhale. One episode could be as short as a few seconds or up to one minute long. As said earlier, the condition isn’t harmful, and it usually stops after your pug exhales through its nose. It should not be confused tracheal collapse, which is a much more severe condition with similar symptoms.

Tracheal collapse is a progressive respiratory condition that obstructs your dog’s airway making it hard for them to breathe. If left to last for extended periods, the condition could become fatal. If you notice your dog having breathing difficulties, dry coughs, and is intolerant to exercise, I would recommend taking your pug to the vet immediately. If you’re unsure, it’s better to play it on the safe side and get your dog examined by a professional.

What Causes A Pug To Reverse Sneeze?

The causes of reverse sneezing is similar to those that cause regular coughs. Ultimately, both actions are an attempt to expel irritants. Sneezing helps dispel irritants located in the nasal cavity, and coughs are intended to remove irritants situated further down the respiratory passage. Reverse sneezes are meant to expel irritants that are locater a little bit further down the nasal cavity, i.e. the nasopharynx area.

Some of the possible irritants to the soft palate that could result in a pug reverse sneezing include:

  • Household products like perfume, air fresheners, and cleaning products
  • Allergies
  • Pulling on the leash while they’re attached to their collar
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Overexcitement
  • Nasal mites
  • Foreign bodies in the throat
  • Drinking
  • Eating
  • An elongated soft palate
  • Periodontal diseases

Keeping these causes in mind, you should look at preventing further episodes of reverse sneezing. You could try and minimize the use of air fresheners in your home, treat your pug for nasal mites, adjust their collar, minimize pulling their leash, etc.

How Can You Stop Pug Reverse Sneezing?

If your pug reverse sneezes occasionally, then there’s nothing to worry about. But, if this becomes more regular, then there are ways in which you can help soothe them to stop. If the condition gets more critical, you may need to take them to a veterinarian.

There are various suggestions and tricks you could employ to stop your pug while they are reverse sneezing. These tricks involve stopping the involuntary reaction and helping your pug get rid of the irritants. The various tips and tricks include:

1. Briefly cover their nostrils and massage their throat

By covering your pug’s nostrils, this will hopefully force them to swallow. As a result, it should remove any irritants that may have caused the reverse sneezing episode. Massaging their throat could also help dislodge the irritants and simultaneously soothe your pug’s throat.

2. Get your pug to a cool area and blow on their face

If blocking your dog’s nostrils and rubbing their throat doesn’t soothe them, you could try getting them to a cool place and even blowing on their face. Getting them to a cool place, especially in a location with a cool breeze, could help soothe their nasal passage. You could also blow on their face and try to calm them verbally.

Other ways of stopping them can include: picking them up and changing their position, distracting with food or toys, and by pressing down on their tongue to force breathing out of their mouth. Doing this help open up their nasal cavity, but be careful not to get bit!

Preventing Your Pug From Reverse Sneezing

It’s not possible to keep your pug in an allergen-free state all their life. There are no fool-proof means you could use to prevent this condition altogether; however, you could take steps to avoid more frequent episodes. I would recommend you to:

Avoid cleaning products with irritants

If you notice a trend where your pug reverse sneezes more regularly when you clean the house, then perhaps look at the cleaning products that you’re using. Your dog may get irritated by certain chemicals found in these cleaning products, especially those that leave aromas. In this case, it would be ideal to look for an alternative cleaning agent that is more pet-friendly.

Maintain a purified internal air circulation

You could try and maintain a clean internal environment by locking all your windows and using air conditioning. The air conditioning could help rid pollen and other foreign particles from your home, reducing the chances of your pug developing reverse sneezing episodes.

Avoid smoking and the use of air fresheners

If you notice that your pug’s reverse sneezing episodes increase exponentially when you smoke, use air fresheners, or burn candles, then I would recommend avoiding these altogether. Smoking or burning candles produces fine carbon particles that may irritate your pug’s nasal cavity, while air fresheners contain fine chemical particles that are particularly irritating, even to humans.

Walk your dog in allergen-free locations

Attempt to walk your pug in allergen-free locations to prevent them from inhaling any foreign particles that may cause them to reverse sneeze. While this may not be possible for everyone, minimizing the outside environment as much as possible will help reduce these episodes. Try and ensure that they don’t go sniffing around locations that may have pollen or other fine particles.

Work on your pug’s periodontal diseases

Periodontal diseases that are related to bacterial infections, viruses and parasites can cause inflammation in the nasal passages. This inflammation permits bacteria to penetrate a pug’s sinuses, thus leading to reverse sneezing and other breathing issues. Ideally, get in touch with your veterinarian to determine the best and most appropriate dental care plan for your pug.

Treatments For Reverse Sneezing

Most reverse sneezing conditions don’t require treatment; however, if you suspect that your pug may be in danger due to the condition, it’s always safe to take them to a veterinarian. The best and most essential thing to do would be to calm them by gently stroking their neck and moving them to an allergen-free space. You could also take the preventative measures listed above to avoid such situations.

More often, the episodes are over as soon as the dog breathes out. Plus, it’s improbable that your pug suffers any risks before, during, or after the incident. Most episodes will last under a minute; however, in some cases, especially if there are lots of foreign irritants, the attacks may be prolonged. Taking your pug away from such locations often helps minimize reverse sneezing episodes.

If your pug’s condition gets worse, then you could take them to a vet who’ll advise whether it would be good to trim their soft palate through CO2 laser surgery. You could consider this option if your pug develops breathing difficulties that’s associated with snorting, stridor, snoring, gagging, etc.

If the condition gets that severe, then the chances are that your pug may be unwilling to exercise, it may become lethargic, and experience increased episodes of reverse sneezing. However, please consider your veterinarian’s opinion before choosing to go down this path.

Related Questions

Can reverse sneezing kill a dog? No, while it looks like your pug is in a lot of discomfort, reverse sneezing is not life threatening. These spasmodic episodes will usually subside within a minute, and will stop as soon as your dog exhales through their nose.

Is pug reverse sneezing dangerous? No, it is not life threatening for pugs. However, being a brachycephalic breed (flat-faced and short nose) does make them more prone to reverse sneezing.

Should I take my dog to the vet for reverse sneezing? If reverse sneezing happens irregularly, then there is no need as this is generally harmless. However, if they are more frequent and severe, then it would be wise to have a precautionary check with your vet. Trachea Collapse can be an issue to be mindful of as it has some similar symptoms to reverse sneezing.


Aesculight, n.d. Brachycephalic Dogs and Laser Elongated Soft Palate Surgery.

Elwood Vet, n.d. Reverse sneezing sounds awful but don’t panic!

Loos, S., 2020. Reverse Sneezing in Dogs: Is It Normal?

Wheaton Animal Hospital, 2020. Not Knowing The Signs Of A Reverse Sneeze Could Cost You.

Williams, K. & Ward, E., n.d. Reverse Sneeze in Dogs.

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