A dog blowing air out of the nose may sound like something concerning, especially for owners who have never witnessed this behavior in their dogs before.
Many dog owners describe it as if the dog was trying to blow his nose just as a human would do when he has a cold or allergies and is trying to clear the nasal passages.
Dog are not lucky as humans are, and therefore they cannot grab a Kleenex and just blow their nose! Following is some information about possible causes for a dog blowing air out of the nose.
A Reverse Sneeze
At times, what dog owners describe as a dog blowing air out of the nose is simply what's commonly known as a reverse sneeze.
Medically known as inspiratory paroxysmal respiration, a reverse sneeze is simply a quite common respiratory event in dogs.
A video is worth 1,000 words, so watching the video below can demonstrate what a reverse sneeze in dogs sounds and looks like.
A reverse sneeze may sound worrisome, so much so, that dog owners often rush their dogs to the vet as they interpret it as the dog is choking or having trouble breathing, but in most cases, a reverse sneeze is nothing to worry about.
A reverse sneeze is characterized by a rapid, forced inhalation through the nose that is often accompanied by some sort of snorting or gagging sounds while the dog extends the neck. Affected dogs may sound in distress, but following the episode they go on with their lives as if nothing ever happened.
If you notice a snorting sound as if your dog is pulling air in through its nose, you might be therefore dealing with a reverse sneeze. This is often caused by some sort of irritation of the pharynx, either from inhaled irritants, gastroesophageal reflux ( due to refluxing into the dog's nasopharynx), excitement or post nasal drip, just to name a few causes.
An episode of reverse sneezing can be often stopped by simply gently rubbing the dog's throat until the dog relaxes, explains veterinarian Dr. Kara.
"Like hiccups, a reverse sneeze can be quite forceful and alarming to onlookers, but the episodes usually pass without lasting consequences. Chronic recurrent problems
with reverse sneezing must be evaluated by your veterinarian, but occasional episodes are not usually cause for concern. "~ Kathryn Primm, DVM
Dog Nasal Secretions
A dog blowing air out of the nose may be trying to clear the nose of secretions. Dog noses are often wet and this is quite normal, but a dripping nose is usually not.
A trickle of watery secretion from a dog's nose can be bothersome enough to trigger a dog's reaction.
A dog blowing air out of the nose and possibly, licking the nose as well, may be doing so to remove this annoying dripping sensation. In some cases, the trickle may be fastidious enough to trigger a dog to sneeze.
A runny nose in dogs can by a sign of several conditions including allergies, exposure to irritants or even upper respiratory infections. In some cases, as odd as it may sound, a tooth problem may be a cause for nasal secretions in dogs.
If your dog's nose is runny, you may want to notice if it's affecting only one nostril or both. Also, you want to notice the type of secretion. Is it watery, or more dense? Generally, clear secretions from both noses suggest allergies while yellow, green, or white discharge may suggest infection and often requires a course of antibiotics.
These details can help your vet diagnose the potential underlying disorder in the case your dog's nose is not runny at the time you see the vet.
Something Stuck Up There
Some dogs tend to use their noses a lot on walks and this predisposes them to accidentally snorting something up their nose.
Common foreign items stuck up in a dog's nose include grass seed, a small blade of grass, foxtails or anything small enough that can be aspirated up the dog's nose and risk getting lodged there.
Affected dogs may snort, paw at their nose, sneeze, reverse sneeze, lick their nose or have nasal discharge. The sneezing and reverse sneezing is often quite violent, and persistent. Affected dogs should be taken to the vet for evaluation. The vet will likely have to scope the dog's nose to find the source of the problem.
In some cases, the foreign item "being stuck" turns out being a dog nasal polyp or sometimes even tumors. This is why it's important to investigate any symptoms that suggest that something in the dog's nose is bothering the dog.
Labored Breathing in Dogs
In some cases, a dog blowing air out of the nose can be a sign of labored breathing. The medical term for labored breathing is dyspnea.
When a dog has trouble breathing, it is not unusual for him to recruit the use of secondary muscles of respiration. These secondary muscles include the muscles that elevate the first two ribs, the sternomastoid neck muscles and the alae nasi muscles known for causing flaring of the nostrils.
This causes an increase in the chest wall expansion, increased abdominal expiration, breathing with open mouth, and widening of the nostrils, points out Dr. Lesley King, a veterinarian specializing in internal medicine in an article for DVM360..
If your dog shows signs of labored breathing and your dog is blowing air out of the nose, this can be indicative of several underlying disorders which can be quite serious such as presence of fluid in the dog's lungs, chest injuries, asthma, an enlarged heart, heartworm disease, metabolic diseases of organs that negatively affects the body's ability of getting enough oxygen or gases exchanged, and even cancer.
A Way to Gather Scent
Finally, a rather innocent form of a dog blowing air out of the nose is seen when a dog is sniffing something that captures his attention.
Basically, what happens is that the dog sniffs and then suddenly forces something forcefully out of the nose. What gives?
In this case, the dog is pushing out of the nose odor molecules so that he can clear his nasal passage and he can focus on new odors.
It's sort of like "clearing the plate," or even better, "hitting the refresh button on your computer." This way new odorants can be evaluated, points out Dawn E. Christenson, author of the book: "Veterinary Medical Terminology."
A Dog Blowing Air Out of the Nose Can Be Serious!
As seen, there can be several causes for a dog blowing air through the nose. Some causes are less serious, while some others, on the other hand, can be quite serious. When in doubt, it's always best to see the vet for proper diagnosis and treatment.