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Pugs are highly prized for the appearance that their short noses and flat faces give them. While a pug that is going through a fit of reverse sneezing might make an owner fear for the dog's well-being, it isn't a life-threatening condition and has no ill effects.
How It Works
While sneezing is the rapid expulsion of air out of the dog's respiratory system, reverse sneezing is rapid inhalation. The air is drawn into the dog's lungs with a distinctive snorting sound that can last from as short as a few seconds to as long as several minutes. The dog will often stop what it is doing and brace itself, and owners that aren't prepared for the reverse sneeze may think that the dog is coughing or seizing.
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Reverse sneezing in pugs is thought to have a number of possible causes. Because it is so prevalent in brachycephalic dogs -- those with short noses and flat faces -- it is thought that the shortened structure of the nasal passages and upper respiratory system has something to do with the condition. Reverse sneezing can become worse when the dog is excited or agitated, and can last for a longer period of time. It's also thought that a fit can be triggered by a tickle in the soft palate, which can also occur more frequently in pugs because of the structure of their upper bodies.
Although reverse sneezing does not have any lasting effects on the dog, it may make some pugs increasingly agitated -- especially if they're not used to it. Most attacks will pass quickly, but for those that last several minutes or more you may want to step in to help. Depending on the dog, there are several things to try to help stop the attack. For some, getting them to drink will stop the sensation of irritation in the throat. Others may respond to massaging the throat. Some pugs are susceptible to allergies, and this can make attacks more frequent. A veterinarian may prescribe anti-histamines; this is not to stop the reverse sneezing, but the allergies that may or may not be associated with it.
Reverse sneezing typically has no long-term effects on the pug. Most pugs won't require any kind of veterinary treatment, although it is always a good thing to have a professional diagnosis on the condition. When reverse sneezing happens in pug puppies, there is always the chance that they will grow out of it as they get older.
If there are any other conditions that the pug develops along with the reverse sneezing, it may be happening in conjunction with another condition that should be checked out by a veterinarian. If the pug is showing signs of any discharge or blood associated with the conditions, or has difficulty breathing during times when there is not an attack, consult your veterinarian.