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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 18150
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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My 3 year old cavalier spaniel is having attacks of what I

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My 3 year old cavalier spaniel is having attacks of what I understand may be 'reverse sneezing' - I have 5 other dogs and 2 of them also have brief spells occasionally. The difference with the spaniel is that it was after a sleep when she had been snoring very loudly - shes been keeping us up at night recently - and she seemed to be having trouble getting the breath in rather than snorting on the out breath as the others do. It lasted far longer than any of the others, she was still having little gasps after 5 or 6 minutes. She is a little over ideal weight but is losing it - the snoring is getting worse and she sounds 'snuffly' most of the time.
Hello, my name is***** and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I am sorry to hear that Indie has been suffering from longer and more severe episodes of reverse sneezing compared to your other pups and I understand that you are concerned. You are certainly correct in that dogs that are overweight do tend to suffer from more upper respiratory difficulties as they tend to have more obstruction and loose tissue around the soft palate/pharynx. That would explain her snoring more and having episodes after sleeping. But her weight may not he whole picture/cause.Reverse sneezing episodes can be secondary to inhaled irritants and how sensitive she is to them. It can be related to gastroesophageal reflux. It can be caused by excitement or post nasal drip or an overlong soft palate. In most cases these episodes can be stopped by rubbing her throat and getting her to swallow, so I would try that maneuver as soon as she starts. While these episodes aren't harmful as it's just a spasm of the muscles around the pharynx because of the irritant, it's no fun to watch and in her case it sounds like they are somewhat interfering with her quality of life. If it is because of gastroesophageal reflux then using Pepcid-ac (famotidine) may help. Give her Pepcid-ac (or generic famotidine) at a dose of 0.25mg to 0.5mg per pound of body weight orally every 12 hours for 2 to 3 weeks. That's one quarter of a 10mg tablet per 5 to 10 pound dog every 12 hours. If this helps she can stay on it permanently as Pepcid is quite safe. You can even try once daily therapy before bed at night after a couple weeks. Reflux tends to happen more when dogs are laying down and sleeping as the gastroesophageal sphincter relaxes and acid can passively reflux up into the esophagus and pharynx. This irritant only causes more tissue swelling, thus dogs with reflux will also snore more. It may help her to get her to sleep with her head raised. If it is related to an overlong soft palate then surgery may be required eventually if this is interfering with her enjoyment of life or leading to breathing problems. Sometimes reverse sneezing can be related to dental or gum disease and the secondary inflammation from chronic infections. If this is the case a good cleaning should improve things tremendously.Rarely this can be related to an inner ear infection and the effects of the infection dripping down her throat. Another rare cause would be a pharyngeal or laryngeal polyp or tumor. Sometimes we need to sedate them and take dental radiographs and examine the pharynx and up behind the soft palate to find the cause, so that is always an option if this is worsening for her.Please let me know if you have any further questions.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for that. Its very scary to watch and I was concerned that she was going to stop breathing. She does suffer with ear infections because of her long heavy ears. We have cleaning fluid which we use from time to time but she scatches at them incessantly. I think a check on the soft palate with the vet and some ear cleaning may be the way to go - what do you think?
You are very welcome, thank you for the additional information. I do think that she likely has some throat inflammation and swelling as well as some dripping down her throat form the chronic ear troubles. And both are probably influencing her snoring and reverse sneezing episodes.I do think a recheck with her veterinarian is in order.I would want to address those ears more in depth. She's pretty young so I would be highly suspicious that she may have a food allergy contributing to chronic ear troubles. Food allergic dogs often have very itchy ears and chronic infections. Dogs can develop allergies to any protein or carbohydrate so even if she is only fed one thing that can be what she is allergic to. Dogs with food allergies tend to lick and scratch their paws, face and ears the most, but any of the "allergy reactive areas" can be affected, and sometimes the only symptom can be repeated ear infections. You could try a true hypoallergenic diet like Hills z/d or Purina Veterinary Diets HA. No treats, flavored medication or bones while on the diet and it must be used for a least 12 to 16 weeks to see the full effects. Most clients do report some improvement in 6 to 8 weeks.Over the counter foods may be labeled hypoallergenic but they are unlikely to truly be so.The trouble with "limited ingredient", "hypoallergenic" or "low allergy" pet store brands is that the same machinery is used on multiple lots of food without sterilization cleaning in between. So for example even if a food says it has salmon and rice if the previous batch had beef and corn then you will get traces of those ingredients in your bag of food. Not a big deal if your dog isn't allergic to those ingredients but a waste of money thinking that the food was hypoallergenic, and not good for your dog if those happen to be allergens for your dog. The veterinary brand true hypoallergenic foods are more expensive because it isn't cheap to thoroughly remove all traces of a previous food mixture from the machines used to process food or to hydrolyze the proteins in the food. And the only ingredients in that food, even at a trace level, are what is listed on the bag.Even though some pet food companies may try to convince you otherwise there are no magic hypoallergenic food ingredients. A food allergy reaction is based upon the dog's body recognizing an allergen, so they must have been exposed to it before. Prescription foods are hydrolyzed, or broken down so the body cannot recognize the allergen, or use very unusual ingredients that the dog cannot have been exposed to in the past. They cannot develop an allergy to something they have never been exposed to. There are some other more serious disease processes that Cavalier's are prone to. I won't scare you with specifics but you might want to ask your veterinarian about Primary secretory otitis media (PSOM) and Chiari-like Malformation and Syringomyelia (CM/SM) in Cavaliers.Best of luck with Indie, and please let me know if you have any further questions.
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