Pet owner warns after her French bulldog nearly died from ‘reverse sneezing’

Adele O’Brien, from Biggar, South Lanarkshire, has told how her dog Ernie was almost choked on by a “reverse sneeze” while eating his dinner and was saved by a vet

Ernie almost choked on a side sneeze
Ernie almost choked on a side sneeze

A French bulldog owner has shared how her pet froze to death and had his “ribs jump out” when he choked after suffering a reverse sneeze while eating.

Adele O’Brien, from Biggar, South Lanarkshire, has warned other flat-faced dog breed owners of the dangers of eating quickly and breathing in air instead of exhaling like you would with a normal sneeze.

Her dog, Ernie, experienced paroxysmal breathing, or reverse sneezing, and began “screaming, gasping and gurgling” as he gagged, the reported daily record.

The reverse sneeze, which lasts seconds, is common in flat-faced dogs like Ernie and isn’t usually dangerous, but if it happens while eating, dogs can choke on it and it can prove fatal.

Ernie’s usual Monday night dinner of kibble and ground beef got stuck in his windpipe and throat. His ribs “jumped out” and he started drooling, Adele said.

Adele has now warned other dog owners about the dangers of inhaling while eating


daily record WS)

A reverse sneeze lasting several seconds is common in flat-faced dogs


daily record WS)

The 38-year-old told Record: “French bulldogs have an elongated pallet and are therefore more prone to choking. Because of this, I always watch him when he eats.

“I heard him gasp and realized it was a reverse sneeze, which isn’t usually a problem.

“But then he started screaming and making wheezing noises and gargling. His body froze and his ears shot back, he couldn’t move.”

To get the food out, Adele tried to rub it under Ernie’s neck.

“I was pushing between his chest and stomach to try and get things moving and I heard a whistle like there was air trapped,” she said.

“He was about to collapse. I knew this wasn’t going to fix itself.”

Adele rushed Ernie to ARMAC Vets Ltd where an “amazing” veterinarian “gently manipulated” his body after hours, allowing him to throw up, saving his life.

After a quick anti-inflammatory injection, Ernie was able to go home safely, but Adele is now on high alert in case her beloved pup chokes again.

“Ernie could have died, we’re so lucky the vet was only five minutes away,” she continued.

“If you’re careful, don’t expect your dog to choke. Your dog is like your precious baby. The moment I tried to stay calm, but suffocation can kill, it was terrifying.

“It’s important for owners to know about reverse sneezing and what to do if your dog is choking. It could be a matter of life or death.”

Kirstyn Reive of ARMAC Vets in Biggar explained that while most dogs are able to stop themselves from sneezing backwards, some breeds are more susceptible.

She told the Daily Record: “Instead of blowing air out of the nose like a normal sneeze, a reverse sneeze pulls air into the dog’s nose and makes a loud noise.

Ernie was taken to a vet where his body was “gently manipulated.”


daily record WS)

“Most cases do not require treatment and the dog will stop on its own. But if not, owners should keep their dog calm and pat his neck.

“Ernie choked because he sneezed backwards while eating, so he inhaled some food. He is a brachycephalic breed and has an elongated soft palate that makes him more vulnerable.”

The vet issued choking warning signs to watch out for, saying: “If your dog is making unusually loud noises, is drooling or is gasping for breath you should contact your vet as soon as possible.

“You can try to unblock her throat, but be careful not to get bitten. In extreme circumstances, we would have to sedate or anesthetize an animal to remove the object it is choking on.

“Owners should avoid feeding their dogs large objects and try not to let them gulp down their food too quickly.”

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