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How to Help Your Dog Through Gagging & Choking Episodes

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Written by susieq450   

dalmation Does your dog ever seem to have gag reflexes, and seem like he is choking.  I have 3 Chihuahuas and one of my little girls has that reflex every now and then but my little boy does it all the time.  It seems so pathetic to watch him.  I feel so bad, as I am sure you are to watch your own baby to look so distressed.

There is actually a condition called “reverse sneezing” is also known as "mechanosensitive aspiration reflex".  It is common in many breeds of dogs. What happens when a dog sneezes is that your dog pushes air out through the nose.  In a reverse sneeze, air is pulled rapidly in through the nose producing a loud exhale.

During a reverse sneeze, your dog will inhale rapidly, stand still, elbows spread apart, with an extended his head, and his eyes may bulge. You may think he is choking as he makes a loud snorting noise. Most pet parents think their dog is suffocating during a reverse sneeze episode, which generally lasts for less than a minute up to two minutes.

A “reverse sneezing” episode surely looks disturbing, but is not a harmful condition.  Many people feel that their dog is not breathing, but your dog is not experiencing any ailing effects during these episodes.  These episodes are only brief and temporary, and not life threatening and your dog acts normal before and after.  If your dog experiences the reverse sneezing quite often, there may be other underlying issues that may need to be addressed. 

For peace of mind, consult with your veterinarian and have your dog brought in for examination, to rule out any serious problems.  Other abnormal signs to watch for are nasal discharge, bloody nose, excessive sneezing, and difficulty breathing, abnormal facial deformity over the nose area, decreased appetite and/or lethargy. Some dogs may need various medications to reduce the frequency of a more serious episode.  Discuss the possibility of reverse sneezing with him as well for his advice and any steps he would like you to take during the episodes.

There is no definitive answer as to why your dog is experiencing “reverse sneezing”. Some speculate that it is due to allergies, nasal irritants or inflammations.  It can affect most dog breeds, at any age, male or female.

There are some steps that you can take to try to help your dog through these episodes.  You may be able to stop an episode if your dog is stimulated to swallow by either massaging the throat or briefly pinching off the nasal openings. As odd as it may sound, sometimes you can try opening your dogs mouth and gently pulling on the dogs tongue.  Try to encourage him to eat and drink something which may also stop the reverse sneezing episode. Some dogs have reversed sneezing episodes so frequently that various medications may be needed to reduce their frequency.

Unless your dog shows any more serious signs than the symptoms of “reverse sneezing”, just realize that he is in no immediate danger, suffering no ill effects. Your dog will be fine, so all that you can do is just help him through the episode, and give him lots of love.

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