These are spasms that cause a dog to quickly pull air in through his nose (the opposite of a sneeze). A Maltese may have a random reverse sneeze or episodes lasting anywhere from one minute to ten.
Signs: An episode of reverse sneezing can be startling to see and hear. With each quick pull of air into the nose there will be a loud snorting noise. Many dogs will fully extend their necks with each rapid inhalation.
Causes: The exact cause of these are unknown; however, it is very common with canines. For some dogs, episodes can be triggered by inhaling certain elements including rug cleaner, colognes, cleaning products, etc.
Since reverse sneezing can be confused with coughing, signs of collapsed trachea, or other breathing issues, it is recommended to video your Maltese during one of these breathing attacks to document the event and to show the recording to the veterinarian.
If it is indeed a case of reverse sneezing, usually it does not require medical intervention. However, if episodes occur frequently and/or are prolonged, anti-inflammatories, antihistamines and/or decongestants may be prescribed.
What you can do during an episode:
If your Maltese is having a problem with reverse sneezing, there are some things that you can do to try and stop them. These all involve doing something to interrupt the spasms (a similar approach to stopping hiccups).
Gently cup your hand over your Maltese's mouth, allowing room for breathing. Since excess carbon dioxide is expelled during reverse sneezing, this can help as it causes a dog to breath more back in, restoring it to proper levels.
Place a small dab of all-natural smooth peanut butter to the tip of your dog's nose. When he licks it off, the act of extending his tongue can be enough of an interruption to make the spasms cease.
Gently massage the front of his throat with long downward strokes. This can help surrounding muscles relax.
Offer a small treat. Chewing and swallowing can sometimes be enough to make them stop.