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What is French Bulldog Reverse Sneezing?

What is Reverse Sneezing in French Bulldogs

Snort!… Snort!SNORT!

Sound familiar?

Reverse sneezing is an episode where your Frenchie makes rapid inhalations, snorting while it stands still extending its neck.

Your Frenchie may seem like it’s choking or unable to breathe, but there’s no need to be worried!

While reverse sneezing is more common in brachycephalic breeds due to their elongated soft palates, it can affect any breed.

Yes, I know, reverse sneezing can be pretty scary. Reverse sneezing is typically harmless and shouldn’t be much of concern unless you think it’s excessive.

Symptoms of Reverse Sneezing

Snort, snort, snort! You really can’t miss a reverse sneezing episode. There are also a few other symptoms such as standing still while craning their necks.

  • Head and neck extended
  • Rapid and long inhalations
  • Standing still & craning neck
  • Loud snorting and gagging sounds

If you’re anything like me, these symptoms scared me half to death the first time it happened.

I thought something serious was wrong with my Frenchie… and her reverse sneezing still freaks me out to this day.

The 5 Most Common Causes of Reverse Sneezing in French Bulldogs

  1. Allergens
  2. Over-excitement
  3. Irritants in the airways
  4. Nasal mites
  5. Pulling on the leash

1. Allergens such as dust, mold, or pollen

One of the most common causes of reverse sneezing in Frenchies is allergies.

An allergen is a substance that triggers an allergic reaction — and they can be found anywhere… indoors or outdoors, in their food, and in the air.

Allergies can cause a whole bunch of symptoms…

Allergy Symptoms

  • Coughing
  • Face rubbing
  • Itchy skin
  • Licking their feet
  • Runny discharge from the eyes or nose
  • Sneezing and/or reverse sneezing
  • Stomach problems
  • Wheezing
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Chronic bad gas or diarrhea
  • Itchy butt

If your Frenchie’s allergies are worse indoors or outdoors, it could be a sign that something in the environment isn’t sitting with them.

Indoor Allergies

If you notice that your Frenchie’s allergies get worse indoors, you might want to try some of these tips:

Indoor Allergens
  • Dust and dust mites
  • Mold spores
  • Pollen
  • Cockroaches
  • Pet dander
  • Some plants

It is always a good idea to keep your house as dust-free as possible — for both you and your Frenchie!

Outdoor Allergies

Just like us humans, dogs can be allergic to things like pollen in the air, however, they don’t show the same symptoms as we do.

If you notice your Frenchie is itching or rubbing their face more after a walk, outdoor allergies might be a possibility.

Outdoor Allergens
  • Pollen
  • Mold spores
  • Trees
  • Grasses and weeds

Allergy Testing

If you suspect your Frenchie is suffering from allergies, I suggest allergy testing.

At-Home Testing

There are a few at-home allergy tests available online that work by scanning a hair sample you send to their lab.

5Strands Pet Food and Environmental Intolerance Test, at Home Dog or Cat Hair Sample Collection Kit
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A radioallergosorbent test (RAST) is a blood test that can determine if your dog is allergic to certain things.

This test must be performed by a veterinarian.

2. Over-excitement

Getting too worked up or excited is another common cause of reverse sneezing in Frenchies.

This is why trying to calm down your dog is one of the recommended ways to stop reverse sneezing immediately.

I talk more about how to stop reverse sneezing later in the article.

3. Irritants in the airways

Any kind of irritant that your Frenchie somehow breathes in can cause reverse sneezing.

This can irritate:

The most common irritants to cause reverse sneezing are nasal mites, secretions, seeds, pollen, grass, smoke, odors, masses, and allergens causing post nasal drip.

4. Nasal mites

Nasal mites are small parasites that infest the nasal passages and sinuses of dogs.

They’re also a cause of reverse sneezing.

Nasal mites are highly contagious among dogs, and can be found in dogs of all breeds, sexes, and ages.

While not as common as allergies or irritants, nasal mites should definitely be on your radar if your Frenchie is reverse sneezing a lot more than usual, especially after being around other dogs at some place like the dog park.

5. Pulling on the leash

Does your Frenchie pull on the leash constantly? If so, that definitely could cause their reverse sneezing!

If you can’t get them to stop tugging on the leash no matter what you do (like me), I recommend trying out a front-clip harness like this one from Mighty Paw.

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For Frenchies that won't stop pulling on the leash, a front-clip harness is one of the best ways to help stop this annoying behavior.

  • 2 clips— one in the front, one in the back
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What can I do to Stop my Frenchie’s Reverse Sneezing?

Mild to moderate reverse sneezing typically doesn’t require any medical treatment.

However, there’s a simple technique you can try right now to instantly stop your Frenchie’s reverse sneezing.

How to Stop Reverse Sneezing Instantly

1. Cover their nostrils with your fingers

This encourages your Frenchie to swallow, which helps stop the reverse sneezing episode.

2. Lightly (very) blow in their face

This encourages your Frenchie to swallow, which helps stop the reverse sneezing episode.

3. Massage their throat

Lightly massaging your Frenchie’s throat when they’re reverse sneezing helps by calming them down.

4. Try to calm them down

If you think reverse sneezing scares you — how do you think your Frenchie feels? It’s probably not the best feeling…

Calming your Frenchie down can help stop the reverse sneezing spasm.

Try Changing Their Diet

If you have any suspicion your Frenchie’s reverse sneezing could be caused by an allergen, it might be a good idea to change up their diet.

For example, if you feed them beef, try changing their protein source to chicken or salmon to see if that improves their reverse sneezing.

If your Frenchie just won’t’ stop reverse sneezing no matter what you try, it’s probably best to visit your vet. While most cases of reverse sneezing are completely normal, it’s better to be safe than sorry if your gut is telling you something is off.

Rule out Allergies

A common cause of reverse sneezing is allergies… and Frenchies are definitely prone to some pesky allergies.

If your Frenchie’s reverse sneezing is frequent, speak to your vet about allergy testing & medication.

It could be something in their food, something in the environment, or something else entirely! The only way to know is to go to your vet.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Reverse Sneezing normal?

Reverse sneezing from time to time is completely normal and harmless most of the time.
It’s when it gets excessive that it becomes abnormal. If your Frenchie is reverse sneezing a lot, you might want to take them to the vet to determine the cause.

How long does reverse sneezing last?

In my experience, reverse sneezing usually lasts 5-10 seconds.
With that being said, it’s not unheard of for episodes of reverse sneezing to last up to a minute or so!
As scary as this is, it is important to remember that it’s still not harmful!
While reverse sneezing isn’t dangerous, it’s important that you don’t get it confused with something harmful such as trachea collapse or laryngeal collapse.

Why do French Bulldogs Snort?

Frenchies snort and breathe loud because of their flat faces.
Their faces predispose them to all sorts of other breathing issues like pinched nostrils and elongated soft palate which can further worsen their breathing and increase how much they snort.

My French Bulldog Snorts like a Pig

It’s quite common for French Bulldogs to snort, snore, and make other pig-like sounds.
Their unique facial structure, characterized by a short snout and pushed-in nose, contributes to these adorable and distinctive noises.
If your Frenchie snorts like a Pig, they’re probably just like every other Frenchie. (But don’t ignore sudden weird breathing noises that aren’t their norm)

Why does my French Bulldog have a runny nose?

It’s not normal for a Frenchie to always have a runny nose.
The most common reasons are allergies (food or environmental), respiratory infections, nasal irritants (dust, chemicals, mold, etc.), or structural abnormalities.
Allergies are pretty common in Frenchies, so it might be something in their diet that is causing their runny nose. If it persists, we recommend taking your Frenchie to the vet.

Why does my Frenchie sound congested?

If your Frenchie sounds congested… they probably are!
A few reasons for this include allergies, their flat faces, nasal congestion, enlarged tonsils, elongated soft palate, or dental problems (which can cause nasal congestion).

French Bulldog Making Weird Breathing Noises

Frenchies are known for being loud breathers… and making a whole bunch of weird noises.

It’s a common part of their charm to hear them snort, snuffle, and grunt, and they’re known for their snoring too.

These noises are generally the result of the shortened airways and nostrils that characterize their breed, which leads to louder and more labored breathing as compared to other dog breeds.

But if your Frenchie is suddenly making weird breathing noises that you’ve never heard before, it might be something you don’t want to ignore.

Reasons why your French Bulldog is Making Weird Breathing Noises

  1. Exacerbation of Brachycephalic Syndrome: Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS) can progressively worsen over time, and factors like weight gain, hot weather, or stress can exacerbate the condition. As the disease progresses, the breathing noises your Frenchie makes can become louder or more frequent.
  2. Allergies or Respiratory Infections: Allergies or respiratory infections can cause inflammation in the airways, which can lead to an increase in the volume or frequency of your Frenchie’s breathing noises.
  3. Foreign Body Ingestion: If your Frenchie has inhaled or swallowed a foreign object, they might start to cough, wheeze, or breathe more loudly as their body tries to expel the object.
  4. Heat Stress: French Bulldogs are highly susceptible to overheating due to their inability to effectively pant. As the temperature rises, or if your Frenchie has been exercising more than usual, you might notice an increase in the volume or frequency of their breathing.
  5. Age-Related Changes: Just like humans, dogs can experience changes in their health as they age. Conditions like heart disease or other respiratory conditions can lead to louder or more frequent breathing noises.
  6. Tracheal Collapse: This is a condition where the trachea, which normally holds its shape, begins to collapse. Symptoms can include a harsh cough that sounds like a goose honk, difficulty breathing, and in severe cases, blue gums. This condition is more common in small breeds, but it can occur in French Bulldogs. Treatment can range from managing symptoms with medication to surgery in severe cases.

French Bulldog Wheezing

Wheezing is a high-pitched sound that is usually heard while breathing out, but can also be heard when breathing in.

This abnormal noise is caused by an obstruction in the airway or lungs. The following could cause wheezing in a French Bulldog:

Causes of French Bulldog Wheezing

  1. Brachycephalic Syndrome: French Bulldogs are classified as brachycephalic breeds which means they have a short nose and flat face. This characteristic can result in narrowed nostrils and elongated soft palates that make breathing more difficult and may lead to wheezing.
  2. Allergies: French Bulldogs are prone to allergies which can cause inflammation in the airways, leading to wheezing. This could be caused by dust, pollen, mold, certain foods, or even parasites like fleas.
  3. Respiratory Infections: Respiratory infections, such as pneumonia or bronchitis, could cause wheezing. Other symptoms might include coughing, lack of appetite, and lethargy.
  4. Obesity: French Bulldogs are prone to obesity, which can put extra pressure on their respiratory system and lead to breathing difficulties, including wheezing.

French Bulldog Choking

Choking happens when there’s a blockage in the windpipe that prevents air from reaching the lungs. If your French Bulldog is choking, it might be due to…

Causes of French Bulldog Choking

  1. Foreign Objects: If your Frenchie has a habit of chewing or eating non-food items, they could accidentally inhale a small object which can cause choking.
  2. Food: Sometimes, dogs can choke on their food, especially if they eat too quickly or if the food pieces are too large.
  3. Swelling: Allergic reactions or infections can cause the throat to swell, which can block the airway and lead to choking.
  4. Brachycephalic Syndrome: Once again, the physical attributes of the French Bulldog can contribute to the likelihood of choking, due to the possibility of narrowed airways.