Honky Tonk.

I heard my first canine reverse sneeze a few days after I got Jake. He, out of nowhere, started honking and I thought he was choking.  It took several phone calls of me reenacting the noise and a few You Tube videos later to confirm what it was and that he’d survive.  So for the past year, a few times a week, he’ll honk seven or eight times in a row.  I don’t know about other dogs, but Jake’s seem to be voluntary.

Then, last week.  The honks changed.  They sounded similar, yet different, and it he didn’t seem able to stop them.  His whole body would tense and release with each honk. Even his ears contract.  It happened one night, for about 30 seconds then it stopped.  The next day it happened twice.  A few days later and he was doing it pretty consistently throughout the day, and then the night.  As for the night episodes, they come on in his sleep.

If there is one thing I know about my dogs, whatever it is that I consider to be reason for an emergency vet visit, they will cease doing said thing the moment we arrive at the vet.  Melvin can spontaneously stop bleeding, no joke. So I took video of Jake.  The vet had not seen a dog present like that before.  She had heard/seen reverse sneezing, coughing, gasping, choking and several other breathing related issues but not one like Jake’s.  So the videos are now posted for other doctors to chime in on.

The vet did suggest a few things it could be.  An issue with his soft palate, although a little odd to present at this age.  A possible obstruction in his nasal cavity causing involuntary spasms.  The obstruction could be anything from an inhaled grass seed to a growth.  It could be an allergic reaction or an infection.  The first few things listed require a Rhinoscopy to diagnose.  That has to be done at a specialist under anesthesia.  Jake had a tooth pulled last summer and we came to find out the he and anesthesia do not mix well.  So for a few days we are doing Temeral-P and Doxy to see if it’s allergy or infection.  I pray it is. It’s hard to watch him have these episodes, I’m reminded how small he is and after each one he looks at me as if to say ‘fix it’.  So fix it we shall.

So far, while it’s not necessarily better, it’s not worse — I view this as good news.  Melvin is even showing concern, when Jake has an episode Melvin gets up and goes to lay down next to his brother. Granted he does not stay there for long, the honking gets pretty loud and Melvin gives up on caring too much.  Brotherhood at its finest!

Thanks for all the well wishes and check-ins.  Here are a few of the videos (two below) –if anyone has any experience with this, please let us know.  He does it at rest, during activity, while sleeping, while sitting, while laying down.  I can’t really pinpoint a trend.  It can last from 30 seconds to a few minutes. Sometimes I can ease him out of the episode if I hold him and rub his chest.

20 thoughts on “Honky Tonk.

  1. Nandy has been doing this for years and we’ve never gotten an answer. She’s almost 60 lbs and does it standing up so I can see her entire body contract.

    Hope you find an answer soon, they seem so miserable when it’s happening 🙁

    • This is one of those moments where my first reaction is poor Nandy and my second reaction is a sigh that someone else is along for this ride. If I get any answers, I will pass them on to you!

      • Definitely, please do!

        I feel so bad when it happens and helpless at the same time. Did lots of research online but ended up in the same place you are with Jake.

  2. One of our Labs had something similar for a short period of time and was usually brought on by running. Vet checked him and he said it can happen when they’re going through a growth spurt. No treatment (for a change) and he outgrew it. Hope Jake gets better soon!

  3. Those are the EXACT same noises that Pug makes. It’s so awful and I always feel so helpless when it happens. Try the holding down his tounge thing to see if that helps. xoxoxo to all of you!

  4. Trev is Honkey Tonkin’ too, but honey, we aren’t dancing with him either…Told it was allergies, we were given doggie allergy and cough meds for our buddy…He becomes a stoner bear, we sing fly like an eagle…giggles…So we don’t give them both often…hard on an old feller….When Trev does it, his body spams and sometimes falls…It is beyond words really…I can’t really describe the horror…No matter the hour, we are down with him petting and loving him through it…we always have water close by…About the anesthesia…We almost lost Trev the last time his teeth were cleaned…never never again…We so know exactly what you mean…Hugs, love, health and strength to you and your furry honker tonker!!!! Mwah!!!!

  5. Poor Jake!! My Mabel, a pug/dachshund mix did the honky thing one evening for quite a while but as soon as I made the decision to pack her into the car and take her to the vet, she stopped and fortunately it hasn’t happened again. Here’s hoping that the meds help! I love that Melvin is showing some support for Jake during this though – it seriously warms my heart to hear that he is coming around to the little guy!!

  6. Poor Jake, and poor you. I knew exactly what you meant when you wrote that he looks at you as if to say, “Fix it.” That look can just melt your heart and make you feel so helpless when you simply don’t know how. Here’s hoping that it’s something simple and that the treatment you’ve started does the trick.

  7. I’m just catching up on your blog – poor Jake! I take care of a few dogs that reverse sneeze pretty seriously (both of my dogs do it too – Birdie employed this tactic to get out of hydrotherapy). So I just wanted to share that sometimes it helps to lift their chin/head up and stroke down their neck. And sometimes, I use my fingers to just pry open their mouth so they they can take a deep breath. Just a short term fix, but maybe it’ll help shorten a sneeze-session!

  8. Poor baby! Have they been able to figure out the honking yet? One of our older pugs had this happen a few times several months ago and it is beyond scary! It’s much worse than your typical reverse sneeze, so I know what you mean. His regular vet diagnosed it as laryngeal paralysis. The options were to first try high doses of steroids. If that did not work, the only other option was surgery. Thank God the steroids did the trick (fingers crossed and knocking on wood). Our Caleb is 12 and just went through a scary spinal surgery the previous year, so we were not prepared to put him through another risky surgery. Best of luck and snorty kisses to Jake and Melvin ( we have a Jake also 😃… And a Patchouli)

    • It’s so scary! Jake’s was something he inhaled. The constant honking lasted just under a month then, went away. Yay! We had his soft palate looked at during the MRI and it didn’t look too bad. Sounds like you can relate to crazy dog health issues! Thanks for reading along!

      • Thank goodness! Oh yes, if there is some bizarre medical issue to be had, our two old rescue boys Jake and Caleb have it! Cancer, protruding disks, thyroid, enlarged heart… And our Jake has always left us little meatballs around the house, as long as we’ve had him (we affectionately call them balls of joy). The best is waking up to th on our bed 😁

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