There are many respiratory sounds that can be made by your canine or feline companion.
Some sounds are more concerning and merit an immediate examination by a veterinarian. Other audible respiratory patterns should cause an owner to take notice, but don’t necessarily need to be evaluated at three in the morning at an emergency veterinary hospital.
One of the most common respiratory patterns exhibited by dogs and cats that often causes some degree of alarm to unexperienced owners is reverse sneezing. Inspiratory paroxysmal respiration, mechanosensitive aspiration reflex, and pharyngeal gag reflex are scientific terms for reverse sneezing.
How can an owner tell the difference between reverse sneezing, regular sneezing, coughing, and choking?
With some awareness, experience, and common sense you’ll soon be able discern among these audible respiratory sounds your pet may make.
Coughing is a forceful exhalation through the mouth typically paired with abdominal contraction to expel material from throat, trachea (windpipe), or lungs. Coughing can be productive (expelling mucus, liquid, or other substance) or non-productive (dry).
Choking is a reflex-like expulsion through the mouth of material that inadvertently gets stuck in the throat or enters the trachea. Generally, the term choking can be used interchangeably with gagging.
Sneezing involves vigorous evacuation of microscopic or visible materials from the nose or nostrils. Environmental allergens (pollen, mold, etc.) and irritants (dust, smoke, incense, etc.) cause inflammation in the nasal passages and lead to sneezing. Dry sneezing simply involves air being forcefully expelled. Wet sneezing may yield clear liquid, mucus, blood, or other fluids. Additionally, foreign material like a plant awn (foxtail, etc.) or a blade of grass can be cleared during sneezing.
Reverse sneezing is a rapidly repeating pattern of inhalation and exhalation in attempt to remove allergens and irritants from the nasal passages. The mouth is typically partially or fully closed to permit the primary movement of air to occur through the nose.
During reverse sneezing, your pet may exhibit postural changes, including, standing still, extending the head and neck, angulation of the elbows away from the body (elbow abduction), sudden movement of the head in a reverse motion, and abdominal contractions.
Reverse Sneezing: Causes, Treatments, and Prevention | The Honest Kitchen Blog