Dr. Dolittler

Puppy has attack of the reverse sneeze



Q. Last week our new puppy started making a horrible sound we’d never heard before. We couldn’t tell if it was coming from her nose or throat. We honestly thought she was going to die, but a neighbor told us it was normal. How can that be?

What you’re describing was almost certainly a common spasm that’s often called a reverse sneeze. Cats, too, occasionally experience this disconcerting but benign condition.

The cause of reverse sneezing is believed to be an irritation of the soft palate. The result is a hiccup-like spasm that looks like a rhythmic combination of a cough, sneeze, gag, honk or snort.

Any irritant can cause it, including excitement, eating or drinking, exercise, leash-pulling, inhalation of pollen, strong odors, viruses, bacteria, household chemicals and respiratory allergies.

The causes are so varied that it’s almost impossible to know what caused an episode, which, of course, makes it hard to prevent another one.

You might find that relaxing your puppy – by massaging her throat, hugging her or providing some other type of soothing stimulus – ends future episodes more quickly. Alternatively, eliciting a swallow reflex by briefly closing her nostrils might help clear any irritant from the soft palate.

Persistent or especially violent bouts of reverse sneezing may warrant investigation to rule out underlying disorders. If you’re not sure it’s normal, take a quick smart-phone video of the event for your veterinarian to see.

Dr. Patty Khuly has a veterinary practice in South Miami. Her website is drpattykhuly.com. Send questions to khulyp@bellsouth.net, or Dr. Dolittler, Tropical Life, The Miami Herald, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Doral, FL 33172.

Read more Pets stories from the Miami Herald

  • Pet Vet: Constant cough is hard to diagnose

    Barley Boy was one of the lucky few older dogs at the local animal control facility. He was adopted. It was estimated that he was about 9 years old, and the guess was he was a mixed breed terrier. His new family has been caring for him for almost four months and he fits in very well in his new digs.

  • Animal Island: How to keep pigeons away from the bird feeder

    Q: We enjoy feeding the wild birds in our yard, and we have all sorts that frequent our feeders, but we now have a flock of pigeons that come twice a day. At first, there were only two, but it seems each day there are twice as many as the day before. They do not sit on the bird feeders but are on the ground under the feeders eating the food that the ground-feeding birds like song sparrows could be feeding on. In between feeding, they are on our roof making a mess. Is there any particular food that we could feed the other birds that the pigeons would not like?

  • Old pets, new chances: The case for senior adoption

    Perhaps Moses and Harry realize how fortunate they are. But if they do, they're not talking.

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category