Reverse sneezing in Bull Terriers


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Have you ever heard of reverse sneezing in Bull Terriers?

If your Bull Terrier has recently been diagnosed with reverse sneezing, or if they are making a strange noise you can’t quite figure out, you might be looking for more information. Reverse sneezing in Bull Terriers can be alarming if you have never experienced it before. But luckily, it’s not quite as scary as it may sound.

In this post, you’ll learn about reverse sneezing, its causes, and what you can do about it.

What is reverse sneezing in Bull Terriers?

Reverse sneezing, also known as 'paroxysmal respiration', is not that rare in Bull Terriers. When regularly sneezing, your Bull Terrier pushes air out through their nose. However, in a reverse sneeze, the air is rapidly pulled in through the nose instead of blowing it out. As a result, they produce a noisy inspiratory effort, effectively the opposite of a sneeze. This sudden inhalation can sometimes cause a distinctive honking or snorting sound that can be concerning for pet owners.

Owners often describe the sound as a cross between a snort and a gag, leading to understandable worry. It's important to remember that while reverse sneezing might appear distressing, it's typically harmless and temporary. Staying composed and comforting your Bull Terrier can help ease their discomfort during these episodes.

What does a reverse sneeze look like in Bull Terriers?

Your Bull Terrier will stand still with their elbows spread apart, making rapid inspirations during a reverse sneeze, with an extended head, and bulging eyes. They will make a loud snorting sound, that might make you think they have something caught in their throat.

The reverse sneeze episode may also end with a noise that sounds like a snort, followed by a swallow. These events can often be described as paroxysmal, which means a sudden and recurrent attack or spasm. It is common for some Bull Terriers to have repeated episodes throughout their lives. These episodes can be startling to witness but are generally harmless and typically resolve on their own.

During a reverse sneezing episode, your Bull Terrier's body may appear tense, and they might extend their neck to ease breathing. While their eyes might appear bulged, and you could sense their discomfort, it's essential to remain calm and reassure them, as your Bull Terrier can pick up on your emotions and demeanor.

Is my Bull Terrier in danger when this occurs?

Although it can be alarming to witness your Bull Terrier having a reverse sneezing episode, it's not harmful and there are no ill effects. They will be completely normal before and after the reverse sneezing episode. 

During a reverse sneeze, your Bull Terrier will make rapid and long inspirations, stand still, and extend their head and neck. A loud snorting sound is produced, which may sound like they have something caught in their nose or throat. 

How long do episodes of reverse sneezing in Bull Terriers last?

Usually, reverse sneezing episodes generally last for several seconds to a minute or two. While these episodes can be unnerving to witness, it's essential to remain calm. Gently massaging your Bull Terrier's throat or softly blowing on their face can sometimes help shorten the duration of the episode. If the reverse sneezing continues for an extended period or becomes more frequent, consulting your veterinarian for further guidance is recommended. Remember that most episodes are brief and pose minimal risk to your Bull Terrier's overall health.

What causes reverse sneezing in Bull Terriers?

Any irritation to your Bull terrier's sinuses, nose, or back of the throat can trigger an episode of reverse sneezing, but the exact cause of reverse sneezing is unknown.

Irritants can include:

  • Allergies
  • Household products such as perfume, cleaning products, air fresheners
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Pulling on the leash while attached to a collar
  • Foreign bodies in the throat area such as seeds
  • Overexcitement 
  • Secretions
  • Nasal mites
  • Pollen
  • Elongated soft palate
  • Eating or drinking

Almost, anything that irritates the throat can potentially cause a reverse sneeze in Bull Terriers.

Your vet will need to examine your Bull Terrier to make sure the reverse sneezing is not related to some underlying condition such as nasal tumors, collapsing trachea, or other similar issues.

How to treat reverse sneezing?

Most cases of reverse sneezing don't require medical treatment. There are a variety of different tricks to try to stop reverse sneezing in Bull Terriers.

If your Bull Terrier experiences a reverse sneezing episode, you may hold their nostrils closed for a second, so they start breathing through their mouth.

You can also try massaging your Bull Terrier’s throat and try to calm them.

Lightly blowing in your Bull Terrier’s face may also help. This causes them to swallow, which then helps get rid of the irritant that caused the reverse sneezing episode. 

If the problem is chronic, a vet would have to diagnose the underlying cause and provide appropriate treatment. In certain cases, your vet may choose to prescribe anti-inflammatory, antihistamine, or decongestant medications if the problem is serious, chronic, and allergy-related. An evaluation of your Bull Terrier's environment would also be helpful in determining possible causes of reverse sneezing events.

Is reverse sneezing in Bull Terriers serious?

Despite looking and sounding scary, reverse sneezing isn’t harmful or dangerous for Bull Terriers. They will be fine after the episode is over, and reverse sneezes will not cause any harmful effects afterward. 

Once your Bull Terrier exhales through the nose, the attack is usually over. It is very rare for Bull Terriers to develop any complications or suffer any risk during these attacks. Most episodes of reverse sneezing last less than a minute, although longer attacks have been reported.

However, consult your vet if reverse sneezing becomes chronic or if your Bull Terrier appears to have difficulty breathing. Also, if your Bull Terrier has other symptoms along with reverse sneezes, they could have an underlying problem that needs to be addressed. 

Symptoms to watch for can include:

  • Discharge from their nose
  • Bleeding from their nose
  • Coughing 
  • Sneezing
  • Shaking their head
  • Scratching at their face

Final thoughts 

Reverse sneezes in Bull Terriers happen when a muscle spasm in the back of their throat occurs. The spasm might be caused by many things, such as allergies, pollen, or nasal mites. Your Bull Terrier is not in danger when they experience a reverse sneezing episode. The episode passes quickly, and your Bull Terrier shouldn’t experience any adverse effects afterward.

As you can see, reverse sneezing itself isn’t a serious problem. However, if your Bull Terrier shows other symptoms, it can sometimes be associated with other medical conditions. It’s important to have your Bull Terrier checked out by their vet to figure out what’s going on.