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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 33247
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience.
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Hi my dog has developed what my vet says is reverse sneezing

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Hi my dog has developed what my vet says is reverse sneezing he developed it after the kennel cough vaccine
He has had about 3 or 4 sore throats and upper respiratory infections in his life he is 2 yrs
He has had antibiotics and this clears it for a while
He has been reverse sneezing for a week or so now and vet says his glands are slightly up in neck again but nothing major
He mainly does it when excited like greeting people and when he pulls on lead
My vet gave him piriton first as said it could be allergy because he knaws at his feet too
But this not worked
He is now on prednisolone steroid to see if that works
I'm very worried something is seriously wrong with him and they are talking about putting him under to see what happens with his throat when relaxed
What would they be looking for ?
And also mentioned an endoscope
Could these things be treated/ rectified if they find something wrong with his throat ?
What could it be ?
Aloha! You're speaking to Dr. Michael Salkin
I'm sorry for the delay in responding to you. The causes of reverse sneezing include inflammation in the oropharynx (back of the throat) caused by both infection and allergy (and dosing with nasal kennel cough vaccine) but also anatomical defects such as an overly long soft palate which is interfering with how well Prince's trachea (windpipe) closes when it should close during his eating and drinking; as well as everting laryngeal saccules which would close off his throat when he inspires and set off the muscle spasms of reverse sneezing; and finally a collapsing trachea which is akin to a wet straw that collapses when sucked on. These defects are more common in some breeds than others. Please tell me Prince's breed.

To answer your question directly, then, his vet is suggesting scoping in an attempt to identify an anatomical defect such as the above and will recommend surgical correction of those defects which should be curative. Collapsing trachea, however, is usually managed medically rather than surgically.

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hello he is a bichon frise cross Chihuahua

Could this simply just be a side effect of the kennel cough vaccine then ?

Thank you. Neither of those breeds are overrepresented with the airway syndromes I mentioned but that fact doesn't rule out the possibility that a defect exists. The vaccine can cause transient inflammation in the upper respiratory tract - sneezing is the most common symptom. I would expect such inflammation to abate within a week of being vaccinated, however. Considering Prince's prior history of inflammatory disorders in his oropharynx - a "weakness" in that area, so to speak - it would be prudent to simply "watchful wait" for another week in order to see if the prednisolone and the tincture of time resolves his reverse sneezing. By the principle of Occam's Razor, we shouldn't ignore that his recent vaccine might well be the culprit.

Please continue our conversation if you wish.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

If the steroids help and vet suggests long term use would that be advisable as I've heard its not healthy for him to be on them long term would it cause him other health problems ?

With him being so young I wouldn't want him on them if there are side effects

I can't imagine that long-term steroid administration would be recommended for an acutely appearing reverse sneezing. In the great majority of cases, we don't treat reverse sneezing dogs unless their quality of life is significantly altered adversely. We do see sterile bronchitis in dogs which might necessitate dosing with steroids indefinitely but such a steroid-responsive diagnosis hasn't been made in Prince.

I agree that steroids should be prescribed prudently and, when necessary, at the smallest effective dose.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hello is there a connection between the reverse sneezing and the feet chewing he does ?

He also likes to eat grass when outside is this ok for him to do ?

Or could it be a contributing factor

Probably, yes. Feet chewing will occur secondary to atopy - allergies to environmental allergens such as pollens, mold, dust, and dust mites and so allergic inflammation in the oropharynx and resultant reverse sneezing is likely.

Eating grass should be discouraged. While there's an evolutionary benefit to eating grass because it usually results in vomiting which then empties the stomach of infectious agents and nondigestibles, grass eating often indicates gastrointestinal distress and so persistent grass eating should prompt a search for an underlying disorder causing that distress. In many cases, simple heartburn causes that behavior and I might address it with an over the counter antacid such as PepcidTwo dosed at 0.2mg/kg of the famotidine in that product twice daily or as necessary.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

The reverse sneezing also happens at night when asleep and he has also started snoring when asleep and when he breathes I can hear something on chest like phlegm but vet listened and said his chest is clear

What would this be ?

Obstructive sounds (snoring/stertor) are consistent with inflammation in the oropharynx - particularly of enlarged tonsils and/or adenoids.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

What action would you advise next should I go down the route of having him anesthetized and x rayed to look at his throat

Or should I explore the possibility of an allergy first with blood tests etc

If it's only been a week since his vaccine, I would wait another week to see if he remisses before exploring his oropharynx and X-raying his respiratory system under sedation. There's no rush to blood test for allergies which should wait until the above is performed in any event.
Dr. Michael Salkin and other Dog Specialists are ready to help you
Thank you for your kind accept. I appreciate it.

I'm going to check back with you in a week for an update. Feel free to return to our conversation - even after rating - prior to my contacting you if you wish.

Please disregard the info request.