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Question of the Week - VetShoponline Ask a Vet

Each week, we will feature a Question of the Week. Our Head Veterinarian, Dr. Mark Perissinotto BVSc, will answer your questions on your pets’ health issues. Your nominated question will earn you a chance to be feature on our popular Ask a Vet front page. Winners will have an opportunity to post his/her pet's picture on our website. So why not "Ask a Vet" now?

Hi! My Shi Tzu has spell that last for maybe 5 minutes some times. Usually not real often but this year she has done it to me twice. It sounds like she is snorting or can't catch her breath. Sometimes I can give her a little bit of milk and it helps her stop. I have tried to give her water and she wants no part of it. She likes me to hold her tight because it apparently scares her as much as it does me. Could she have allergies? She has had real watery eyes for the last few weeks. I have put eye drops in them twice a day. They seem to help some if I put them in twice a day. Thank you,

Wanda R, Pleasant Lake, MI
June 30, 2009


Hi Wanda,

I suspect the behavior that she is showing is what is called reverse sneezing. Reverse sneezing is a caused by a dog rapidly sucking in air through the nose which causes the soft palate to vibrate and make a particular snorting type sound. This action may look particularly distressing to an owner however the episode usually only lasts for a minute or two and is not harmful to the dog. You are correct in saying that an allergy can trigger this behavior. It is thought that irritation of the nasal sinuses and soft palate may be a cause this. Most dogs only show this sign infrequently however if the reverse sneezing is on the increase, medication may be required to reduce the nasal irritation. Reverse sneezing may stop if you can make your dog swallow. You can do this by offering some milk or water to drink or gently try massaging the throat. Anything you can do to remove allergens in the environment such as dusts or pollens may also help. The behavior is at its most common when there are many allergens around such as in fall.

Dr Mark P. BVsc



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