It can look like your dog may die at any moment and if you’ve never seen this before it can be a frightening experience. My own Lurcher, Pip, does it from time to time and I did find it alarming initially.
It will probably be reverse sneezing, or mechanosensitive aspiration reflex to use its proper term. It is also known as the pharyngeal gag reflex
Dr. Dawn Ruben in petplace.com says a reverse sneeze may look disturbing – many people fear that their dog is not breathing during these episodes – but it is not a harmful condition and there are no ill effects. Reverse sneezing attacks are generally quite brief and not life threatening.
The definition of a normal sneeze is a protective expiration reflex – air is expelled OUT.
So the reverse sneeze is the protective repetitive inspiratory reflex. Air is violently pulled IN.
Dr.Karen Becker explains that a dog who is reverse sneezing typically stands still with his elbows spread apart, head extended or back, eyes bulging as he makes this loud snorting sound. The strange stance on top of the strange snorting sound is why many dogs end up getting rushed to the veterinarian or the emergency clinic by their panicked owners.
Episodes of reverse sneezing can last from a few seconds to a minute or two. As soon as it passes, the dog breathes perfectly normally once again and behaves as if nothing happened.
Theo Stewart, The Dog Lady
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