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Gasp - Reverse Sneeze


Pomeranian Gasping - Reverse Sneeze

Question: My pom, once or twice a day, has developed this type of breathing problem that I haven't been able to distinguish what exactly it is, but is seems as if she is gasping for air.

It only lasts between 1 and 10 seconds and it is like she got the wind knocked out of her and is trying to catch her breath. As she is trying to breath there is a vibration in her breathing while she is either breathing out or in, I haven't figured it out yet.

She is in good health, up to date on all shots, and does not have any other difficulty in breathing except for this couple spells in the day, and occasionally when she drinks water out of a bowl (where she does the exact same thing).

She sometimes also does this kind of cough/gag which I'm unsure of what this means. It's like she has something stuck in her throat but nothing comes out. 

Could it be because she's in the stage of loads amount of hair loss and some hair is stuck in her throat? 

She's shedding heavy amounts of fur and when she licks herself is there a possibility that this is the reason?

I regularly give her vitamins in a powder substance that I mix in with her food. She eats it fine, but because it is a fine powder, I thought that maybe she had breathed some of it through her nose and it got into her lungs or something.

Does this seem to be a possibility for why she has difficulty in breathing? If not, please give me any advise of what it might be so I can take the appropriate steps.

Also, lately Xella hasn't got the appetite to eat.
She used to be crazy about food, but now it's like I have to feed her so she eats. Only occasionally she'll eat on her own, but very slowly.
This has been going on for about 2-3 weeks now, but she doesn't seem to be ill with anything. She's still very active and doesn't show any signs of weakness. Owner Jenny, Pomeranian Xella.

Answer: Hi Jenny,

Let's start first with the cough or this gasping as you describe it. While it may seem that Xella is in perfect health, without a vet checkup you cannot be absolutely sure. We do suggest a vet exam. However, most respiratory diseases would cause coughing much more often than 1 or 2 times per day.

It sounds as if Xella may be having spasms, commonly known as "Reverse Sneezes". In a regular sneeze, your dog pushes air out through the nose; however, in a reverse sneeze, air is pulled rapidly in through the nose producing a noisy sound that one may think is coughing or "choking on a hairball' noise. It does not appear to be from inhaling any powder of the vitamin, as this would not be lasting for so many days.

During a reverse sneeze, your dog will make fast noises, stand still with her elbows spread apart, extend her head, and her eyes may bulge. she'll make a loud snorting sound, which might make you think he has something caught in his throat. Many dog owners think their pet is suffocating during a reverse sneeze episode. Each reverse sneezing occurrence generally lasts for less than a minute up to two minutes.

If this sounds like what is happening to Xella, do know that "Reverse Sneezing" is not generally harmful. But if this begins to happen a lot, testing for nasal mites,and nasal cancer should be done. You can help your Pom during "Reverse Sneezing by massaging her throat very gently. 

In addition, what appears to be "Reverse Sneezing" can be a sign of something much more serious. If a Pom has any of the following symptoms, this is a reason to bring the dog to the vet:
  • Nasal discharge
  • Blood coming from the nose
  • Sneezing (regular sneezing)
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Abnormal facial deformity over the dog's nose area
  • Decreased appetite
As you say, Xella has a decreased appetite. By itself, it is not reason for concern unless your Pom is losing weight. However, since she has 2 symptoms, we do strongly suggest bringing her to the vet, as this suggests this may be more than just expected gasping that comes from reverse sneezing and it's always better to be safe than sorry.

Other issues could be collapsed trachea or similar injury to the windpipe. Unfortunately, this is a common health issue for this breed; though the  type of gasping with collapsed trachea is typically a honking type cough. This may be accompanied with wheezing, as if the dog is struggling to take in enough air. 

Another possible cause could be a hairball. Since the coat is so thick, some Pomeranians can develop hair balls. This is another issue that the vet can help you with. Cat hairball solution can be given in some cases, but dosing needs to be exact since it can cause upset stomach issues. 
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