Why is my dog having trouble breathing?.

Your dog suddenly has trouble breathing. How do you know if it is serious or not? Here at Newport Harbor Animal Hospital we have a few tips to help you decide. First, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is the wheezing limited to a minute or two?
  • Does it end as suddenly as it starts?
  • Is the air going in our out when you hear the noise?
  • What is the respiration like when it stops?
  • What is the position of the head and neck while the trouble breathing is occurring?
  • Does the position of the head and neck change when it stops?

The answers to these questions may help you to identify a reverse sneeze. This condition is caused by a spasm that occurs in the back of your pooch’s throat. The good news is that if it is indeed a reverse sneeze it does not cause any pain and sounds way worse than it is.

The wheezing will spontaneously stop in a minute or two. Some dogs may have repeated episodes that are interrupted by normal comfortable breathing.

It starts suddenly and stops just as quickly.

The noise occurs when the air is pulled in through the nose.

The respiration is completely normal when it stops.

The head and neck will likely be extended during the reverse sneeze.

When it stops the head and neck will be in a normal position.

So, what causes the reverse sneeze in the first place?

There is no one single cause. Things like respiratory irritants can cause it. Perfumes, smoke, airborne pollens are a few examples. Sometimes sudden exercise or simply drinking water can cause it.

Conditions that cause post nasal drip may also contribute. Some of our favorite breeds like Pugs, Boston Terriers and French Bulldogs may reverse sneeze due to their anatomy. The soft palate in the roof of the mouth may be longer in these breeds. This is known to contribute. Respiratory infections and other physical problems in the mouth may increase frequency of the reverse sneeze. If you have a dog that periodically reverse sneezes and the frequency increases an exam by one of our doctors at Newport Harbor is a good idea.

Treatment is most likely not required if the reverse sneeze if infrequent. If our doctors find underlying problems such as dental disease, infection or allergies medication or other treatments may be warranted.

If you are not sure or if you think it is an emergency it is important for us to see you and your dog. It is better to be safe. Call us. You might in this day and age consider videoing the episode so we can see it as well. It may also be easier for you to answer our questions above if you have it saved.

Never hesitate to call. Our American Animal Hospital Association accredited hospital is here to answer any of your concerns and questions.

Our Pet Health Mission

Our mission at Newport Harbor Animal Hospital is: "To provide the highest quality veterinary care for our patients and the best service for our clients. Our goal in every case is a healthy pet and a happy client."

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