My dog looks like he’s having an asthma attack!
Frequently, especially in times of the year with high pollen counts, we have calls from people who think their dog is coughing severely or having an asthma attack. When we examine the dog, everything is normal, but from talking with the dog’s caretaker, we determine that the dog is reverse sneezing. This is a loud, honking noise that dogs make when something tickles the back of their throat. During an episode, the dog is rapidly inhaling and the noise is produced during inhalation of air. The dogs sometimes look distressed while this is happening and it can be really alarming if you don’t know what it is. It will last a few seconds and then they will stop. Below is a video, courtesy of YouTube, that demonstrates this.
The good news is that it’s harmless in most dogs. Possibly it is related to an allergy, and some dogs will benefit from an antihistamine during times of the year that they have reverse sneezing. We only worry about reverse sneezing if it seems non-stop, the dog has a nasal discharge or nasal bleeding or he or she is otherwise not feeling well.