Dog Owner’s Nightmare, or Harmless Condition? A Closer Look at the Reverse Sneeze

A close-up of a small dog sneezing

Confusing. Frightening. Shocking. Terrible. These are just a few words to describe the sounds of a reverse sneeze. In fact, the sounds of this symptom can be so terrifying that after hearing it the first time, some dog owners seek emergency medical care (often in the middle of the night).

While it can be directly related to something that requires treatment, the reverse sneeze condition is often spontaneous with an unknown cause.

It’s Idiopathic

The reverse sneeze condition, also called “inspiratory paroxysmal respiration”, is common in dogs (particularly brachycephalic breeds), less so in cats. If the owner is unfamiliar with the condition, it can sound like the animal is struggling to breathe. 

What Are They Doing?!

During a reverse sneeze, a pet will repeatedly breathe in through their nose with uncharacteristic force, taking quick, short inhalations. You might observe your pet standing with their neck stretched out and lips pulled back. They may or may not make a loud snorting sound. 

One episode may last 10-15 seconds. However perilous the sounds are, a reverse sneeze is typically related to nasal irritation, allergies, or overexcitement. Even more bewildering, it can happen seemingly out of the blue.

Brace Yourself

Sneezing and reverse sneezing are intended to rid the body of irritants. Whether it’s dirt, dust, or pollen that animals try to expel, the reflexes are closely linked. A reverse sneeze may be caused by irritation to the nasopharynx (that tricky spot behind the nasal cavities, but above the soft palate). 

Dogs can behave normally and appear completely unchanged after a reverse sneeze. But it is unlikely that they won’t have repeated symptoms later on. While there is no cure for reverse sneeze, if it happens continually, it’s time to address the symptoms. 

When a Reverse Sneeze Means More

We take an animal’s medical history into consideration when evaluating symptoms of a reverse sneeze condition. A thorough physical exam may lead to digital x-rays, rhinoscopy and other diagnostics to ascertain allergic reactions, infections, foreign bodies, masses, or anatomical abnormalities.

Small mites can also be a cause for reverse sneezing. Transmitted between dogs and even through contaminated environments, nasal mite infestations must be taken care of with appropriate parasite medications. 

Surgical procedures, antibiotics, and allergy medications can alleviate problems associated with the reverse sneeze. 

Prevention

It may be possible to reduce the severity or frequency of reverse sneezing through:

  • Gentle massage of the throat
  • Softly blowing on your pet’s face
  • Holding the nostrils closed for a few seconds
  • Leaving it alone (symptoms will eventually subside)

Taking a video of the reverse sneeze can help us treat your pet if their condition worsens or becomes more common throughout the day.

If you have additional questions about your pet’s health and happiness, our veterinary staff is always here for you at Godspeed Animal Care

Why Do Cats Knead?

If you’ve been stumped by feline behaviors in the past, join the club. Cats have some endearing but also quirky tendencies that just beg to be explained – such as curling up tightly to take a nap, or grooming fastidiously after a meal. 

One such tendency is the habit of “making biscuits” or kneading. But what exactly is this? And why do cats knead? Godspeed Animal Care explores this question, here.

What is Cat Kneading?

Before we get into why cats knead, let’s talk about what exactly it is. Cat kneading is a pushing motion cats make with their paws, alternating between left and right. It often occurs on a soft surface such as a bed, pillow, blanket, or your lap. Some cats knead with claws completely retracted, and others extend their claws as they push out and retract them as they pull back. 

The behavior is called “kneading” because it resembles how a baker works bread dough. 

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Dog Nose Slits: What do They do?

A dog’s sense of smell is an amazing thing. Originally used for survival, people now use the power of dog noses in emergency situations and to improve the quality of life for pet owners by detecting cancer cells or oncoming seizures.

But what allows dogs to have this unique ability? This power of super smell has a lot to do with those tiny slits on the sides of a dog’s nose. If you’ve never noticed them, you may be surprised to learn what dog nose slits are and the purpose they serve.

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Veterinary Acupuncture for Your Pet

Did you know that your favorite staff at Godspeed Animal Care offers veterinary acupuncture for your pets?

Alternative therapies like acupuncture give us a scientifically founded way to help pets when other therapies are not enough or cannot be tolerated. In fact, therapies like acupuncture often work synergistically with traditional medicine to achieve even better results.

Interested yet? Read on to learn all you need to know about veterinary acupuncture and how your pet could benefit.

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Is Cat Scratch Disease a Real Thing?

As if we needed another reason to detest fleas, they are responsible for spreading a bacterium called Bartonella henselae to approximately 40% of cats.

Found in flea dirt (droppings) and also deposited via direct bites on the skin, B. henselae can also be spread from one infected cat to another during a fight, and to humans, as well.

If you have a cat that likes to use their claws, we recommend this quick refresher on the dangers of cat scratch disease.

Yikes!

Cat scratch disease is a bacterial infection. If an infected cat bites or scratches you and breaks the skin, or simply licks at an existing open wound, a mild infection can develop at the site of the injury in about 3-14 days. Signs of cat scratch disease include:

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Cavities in Dogs? While Rare, They’re Not Unheard Of

We emphasize good pet dental care because periodontal disease is irreversible and progressive. The good news is that with a dedicated dental care routine, this disease is entirely preventable.

There is another facet of pet dental care that requires an added layer of vigilance, however. Dental cavities in dogs are a known phenomenon but because they aren’t as common, dog owners may be surprised to know they’re actually a risk.

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Essential Winter Pet Paw Care

As pets age, their paw pads thicken up and harden, but they still experience pain after consistent exposure to the elements. Without a doubt, paw pads are very sensitive to heat, but special care is also needed during sub-freezing temperatures. Traditional salts and deicers can be extremely harsh and can even lead to GI upset if swallowed.

Luckily, with a little extra attention to pet paw care this season, your best friend will be ready to go.

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Sweet Dangers: Xylitol Toxicity in Dogs

Xylitol Toxicity in Dogs is a Pet Emergency

Alternative sweeteners are all the rage these days, and it only makes sense given what we know about the dangers of too much sugar. Reducing the amount of sugar in our diets can lead to a plethora of health benefits, including weight loss, better blood sugar control, and reduced risk of tooth decay.

The sugar substitute known as xylitol fits the bill when it comes to healthy sugar substitutes, and it can be found in a variety of sugar-free foods and personal care items. Although it’s a natural product that’s safe and even beneficial for human consumption, it can pose a deadly threat to our pets. Xylitol toxicity is a serious concern that should not be overlooked by any pet owner.

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Adopting a Mutt Can be Absolutely Mutt-Tastic!

Adopting a mutt is the very best!

While the reasons to purchase a pet directly from a breeder vary, prospective owners are usually drawn to a particular look, distinct personality, or other well-known behavioral traits. While it’s true that responsible breeding has its place, the team at Godspeed Animal Care wants to remind people that a mixed breed pet can also bring a great deal to the table. In other words, adopting a mutt can be a huge game-changer!

A Look at Genetics

Part of the fun of a mixed breed pet is that we don’t always know their exact heritage. We can observe certain obvious markers, but without previous knowledge of a pet’s parents and/or genetic testing, it’s a guessing game.

Many owners are interested in having a concrete understanding of an animal’s breed so they can better determine whether they’ll be a good fit for their lifestyle and family.

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How to Safely Remove a Tick, And 4 Ways Not To

It is important to remove a tick the right way to prevent tick-borne illness in pets

If you live in the mid-Atlantic region, you know that it’s always tick season. In the autumn, many of our clients and their pets are still happily taking advantage of the crisp days by spending time outdoors. We know that ticks are something to prevent, but have you ever had to safely remove a tick? If not, we have some tips and tricks for you to make this process relatively easy.

The Problem With Ticks

There are four tick species in our area that humans and dogs encounter: the Lone Star tick, the brown dog tick, the American dog tick, and the deer tick. Most of us know that tick bites are painful and uncomfortable. Did you know that they are also dangerous?

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