By Nan Talleno

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – If you live with a small dog, you’ve probably witnessed an episode or two of a respiratory event known as reverse sneezing. It happens primarily in small dogs due to the fact that they have small windpipes. It doesn’t seem to happen to larger dogs or in felines.

The sound of reverse sneezing in canines can be quite scary such as short gasps for air or even a choking sound caused by an irritation of the soft palate and throat. These irritations can cause this backward sneeze to occur due to a spasm.

Irritants include a change in temperature, tightness of the collar, pulling on the leash (little dogs should be walked using a harness and never by the collar) pollen, household cleaners and chemical sprays, over excitement, anxiety and stress or exercise intolerance.

Fortunately, no treatment is necessary and the episode will end on its own. The most important thing for you to do is to remain calm so as not to create more anxiety for your dog. This will only last a minute or so. You can try massaging the throat area very gently. Be observant as to when and why this occurs to reduce the chance of it happening again. If it becomes more frequent or the duration lasts longer, make an appointment with your veterinarian as there may be a more serious medical issue.

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