Everyone sneezes now and then. Even your little Chihuahua can get a whiff of something that will bring on a sneeze or two. If it becomes a constant problem accompanied by watery eyes and other troubling symptoms you should take Charro to see her vet as soon as possible.
It's estimated that 50 percent of American dogs suffer from allergies, with some breeds being more susceptible than others. Of course Chihuahuas are on the list of canines that are genetically prone to having allergic reactions. It's possible for dogs to react to inhaled allergens like dust, mold and pollen -- the very things that probably set off a sneezing spree for you. If your Chihuahua has this type of atopic allergy, she'll not only sneeze when exposed to the offending substances but she may also have recurring ear infections and experience itching and skin irritations.
The Reverse Sneeze
Many Chihuahua parents have been driven to the edge of panic when they witnessed their little one wheezing, snorting and gasping for air. If you've already rushed your Chi to the vet during or after such an attack, he probably told you it is a "reverse sneeze." That's the best way for the doctors to describe paroxysmal respiration, also known as mechanosensitive aspiration reflex, to people without a medical background. Calling this phenomenon a reverse sneeze is actually quite accurate. With a typical sneeze, your Chihuahua forces air out of her nose, but with the reverse sneeze she pulls air in through her nose at such a rapid pace that it causes snorting and coughing. There is no known cause, although you may notice your Chihuahua reverse sneezing more during times of excitement.
Other Chihuahua Breathing Problems
Another health issue that Chihuahuas are known for is breathing problems. In addition to reverse sneezing, your little Chi may develop a dry cough, gasp for air at times, lose weight or exhibit drooling. These symptoms can be signs of two of the most common breathing problems for Chihuahuas: a collapsed trachea or severe pulmonic stenosis. Both conditions are serious. If you notice that your Chihuahua is having trouble breathing, don't wait to consult your vet to determine the cause and treat it as early as possible.
Dealing with the Issues
Helping your Chi deal with allergies or reverse sneezing is easily done, especially with the help of your vet. He may prescribe medication for the allergies, but typically over-the-counter antihistamines like diphenhydramine will be the recommendation. Even if you already have some in the medicine chest, always consult your vet before administering drugs to your Chihuahua. Reverse sneezing is more disturbing to watch than it is dangerous, and there really is no cure for it, although dogs that experience them so frequently that it interferes with normal functioning have been put on medication to limit them. You can cut a reverse sneezing attack short by getting your dog to swallow, either by massaging her throat or giving her something to eat or drink. As for the more serious conditions of collapsed trachea and stenosis, both require veterinary care, medications and in some cases surgery. If your Chi is diagnosed with either condition, regular visits to the vet will be necessary to monitor her condition and avoid complications to her health.
Elle Di Jensen has been a writer and editor since 1990. She began working in the fitness industry in 1987, and her experience includes editing and publishing a workout manual. She has an extended family of pets, including special needs animals. Jensen attended Idaho and Boise State Universities. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications.