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Hanford Veterinary Hospital Blog

The Reverse Sneeze and Other Startling Dog Sounds

Sometimes dogs make funny noises. From the snorts of a pug to a cute little belch to even a playful yip, our pets can certainly make some entertaining sounds. Sometimes, though, certain less familiar sounds can bring worry and panic to pet parents everywhere. 

While any abnormal sound from your pet is something that we recommend investigating at Hanford Veterinary Hospital, we want to be sure that our pet owners are familiar with a few that are typically not anything particularly serious.

Dog sounds, like a reverse sneeze or goose honk cough, can sound very scary, and while a visit to see one of our expert veterinarians is indicated, it is not usually anything to lose sleep over. 

The Reverse Sneeze and Other Sounds of Note

Some respiratory sounds are more prone to catching our attention that others. When a strange or new noise comes out of our sweet pets, it is only natural to worry. There are a few common noises that animal lovers should be familiar with. 

Reverse sneezing – Many times the cause of deep concern, reverse sneezing episodes are rarely anything serious. Often described as “odd gagging,” a reverse sneeze happens when the back of the throat is irritated. It is typically not indicative of anything harmful, but if it is persistent or distressing to the pet we should check to be sure there is nothing like a blade of grass or polyp causing it to occur. 

Goose honk cough – A loud cough that sounds like the honk of a goose is often a symptom of tracheobronchitis, most typically seen with something like kennel cough. This infection results in the characteristic cough, and while it is something that we should diagnose, it is rarely serious.

Sneezing – Any time the nasal passages are irritated, sneezing can happen. The occasional sneeze is no biggie at all and totally normal, just like we sometimes sneeze. Persistent sneezing, nasal discharge, or other indications that your pet doesn’t feel well, however, should be investigated.

Snorts and such – Upper respiratory snorts and wheezes, more properly termed stertor and stridor respectively, occur when something is obstructing breathing. These things can be within the realm of normal for brachycephalic breeds, but any new or persistent sounds should be checked out. 

When to Worry

If you rushed your pet in over every odd sniffle or snore, you would likely be seeing a lot of us. Sometimes a novel or strange sound is cause for concern, though. So how do you know whether an appointment is warranted?

It is always better safe than sorry. If you are concerned, please make an appointment to come see us. When in doubt, though, there are certain things that make it more clear that a trip in is warranted. We should always examine your pet if you notice:

  • Trouble breathing (this is an emergency)
  • Blue or gray gums (this is an emergency)
  • Fast or heavy breathing while at rest
  • Decreased activity level or lethargy
  • Drainage or discharge from eyes/nose
  • Increased frequency or intensity of respiratory noise
  • Weakness
  • Any sign of pain or distress

Any of these signs warrant a thorough examination and diagnostic testing such as blood work and radiographs to help determine what is going on. Things like a reverse sneeze may be totally harmless, but some respiratory noises can indicate severe problems. 

Our pets can sure make some funny noises, and most of the time it’s harmless. If you are worried, though, we are here to help check it out. 

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