Pablo occasionally has fits where he wheezes and can’t seem to catch his breath. It’s very scary when this happens, and I always feel helpless when he has an attack. Today I found out what causes this. Its fancy name is Pharyngeal Gag Reflex, or reverse sneezing. Luckily, the condition isn’t serious.
What causes an attack? Usually some irritant–perhaps pollen, household chemicals, mites, or car exhaust fumes–tickles the soft palate and throat, causing a spasm. The animal tries desperately to inhale more air but has trouble doing so since its trachea has narrowed. While all breeds of dogs can experience reverse sneezing, smaller dogs and dogs with short snouts are especially prone. Poor pugs fit both conditions so it’s no wonder Pablo is often afflicted.
The good news is that most cases resolve on their own and don’t require treatment, although massaging your dog’s throat or covering its nostrils sometimes helps. And, if the underlying cause is mites or an allergy, then treating those conditions will usually stop reverse sneezing.
I’m happy to have this mystery cleared. Next time Pablo starts sneezing backward, I’ll know not to panic. Now if only there was a simple solution to all that shedding!