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Should You Worry If Your Dog Snores?

At A Glance

Why does my dog snore? The most common cause is blocked airways. In most cases, snoring isn’t a serious issue and can be lessened by shifting your dog’s position when it sleeps on its back. But if it’s displaying troubling symptoms in addition to snoring, it may be time to consult a vet.

  • Certain breeds are natural snorers, like pugs, shih tzus, and bulldogs, due to their pushed-in noses which come with shorter muzzles.
  • Snoring can also be caused by allergies, dental problems, obesity, and sleep apnea.

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What keeps you up at night?

If it’s your dog snoring, don’t ignore it.

Just like people, dogs can be loud snorers, and for similar reasons, too.

Usually, it’s not a serious issue. It may only be a result of their sleeping position or the shape of their muzzles.

As they breathe in and out, irregular airflow in their windpipes causes vibrating noises that we perceive as snoring.

In some cases, however, it could indicate a health problem.

Let’s take a closer look at what causes dog to snore and how to stop dog snoring.

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Breed Characteristics

Wondering which dog breeds snore the most?

Well, the size and shape of your dog’s muzzle can affect its ability to breathe, which leads to snoring. “It is typical in a breed like a pug, or a bulldog with a pushed-in nose”, shares Laura, a dog trainer in California.

Brachycephalic dogs (canines with short muzzles) are more likely to snore than other dog breeds.

Their narrow nasal passages and small airways restrict airflow, making it difficult for them to breathe.

Sherry Shivley, a dog trainer in New York City, observes, “Dogs with shorter muzzles tend to snore more than those with longer ones — like Collies”.

Among these flat-faced breeds, the Boston terrier, French bulldog, Shih Tzu, and pug are notorious for their loud snoring.

infographic image of why does my dog snore

Sleeping Positions

This could well be the most common reason and answer to the age-old question, why does my dog snore?

You might have noticed that your dog’s snoring is louder when it’s on its back. That’s because it’s in a position where it can’t breathe that well as there’s less oxygen moving through its system.

The awkward posture may also make its tongue slide backward and block the air passage, which in turn causes snoring.

To check if this is really the source of the problem, try waking your dog or moving it to a more comfortable position like on its side or curled up. You can manipulate your pet by placing rolled-up towels on its bed.

If the snoring doesn’t go away, there may be other reasons such as sleep apnea, dental problems, or allergies.

Now, if you’re wondering why your dog sleeps on its back, it’s probably because it just likes it better!

Rhinitis

The nose is your dog’s gateway to its respiratory system. Believe it or not, your pet can get a stuffy and runny nose just like you!

And just like with humans, that condition in a dog is also called rhinitis. It occurs when the nose’s mucus membranes become inflamed, making them narrow and swollen.

Rhinitis causes them to snore and occasionally sneeze due to bloated airways. So, if your pup sounds like it’s trying to breathe through a straw, it could be the culprit.

Research shows that this malady can manifest as a runny nose, sneezing, snoring, mouth-breathing, and/or labored breathing.

Antibiotics are typically effective in treating the ailment. Other than that, dogs just need some TLC and time to rest. They’ll be back to their normal selves in no time!

To make your pet more comfortable when suffering from rhinitis, use a humidifier. It can help add moisture to the air, making it easier to breathe.

dog sleeping in the grass

Dental Problems

If you’ve ever awoken to the sound of your dog snoring in the middle of the night, you’re not alone.

Dr. John Shepard, medical director of the Mayo Clinic Sleep Disorders Center, found that 53% of pet owners have their sleep disrupted every night when sleeping with their pets. He also discovered that 21% of dogs snore.

While it can be annoying, you should also be concerned. It could mean that something is wrong with your dog.

For instance, if your pup doesn’t eat as much or whines during mealtimes, it might be a sign of an infected tooth. This can bring about abscesses in their nasal sinus passages and block airflow, making it difficult for them to breathe comfortably. So, they end up snoring.

A tooth infection could affect a dog’s whole body as well, and lead to a more severe infection down the line.

If your dog is snoring and seems to have difficulty eating at the same time, take them to the vet for a check-up and treatment. It’s better to catch the problem early before it becomes more serious.

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Sleep Apnea

Young puppies can sleep as much as 18 to 20 hours per day to maintain their physical and mental development. Meanwhile, adult dogs typically sleep for about 8 to 13.5 hours per day.

If you hear them snoring too often, or even when they’re not lying on their backs, they may be suffering from sleep apnea.

That is a potentially fatal sleeping disorder wherein the breathing stops and starts repeatedly during sleep. Apart from snoring, they might end up gasping for air or choking since it causes them to temporarily cease inhaling.

To rule out the possibility, consult your vet.

Here are some sleep apnea symptoms to watch out for:

  • Loud snoring
  • Being overweight, which causes fatty tissues to collapse and block airways
  • Allergies
  • Difficulty staying asleep
  • Grumpiness during the day

It’s important to note that brachycephalic breeds (short-nosed with short airways) and elderly dogs are more susceptible to sleep apnea.

Blocked Nasal Passages

“Dogs snore for the same reason that humans do”, says Vermont dog mom Jackie Aube. Nasal obstruction or blocked nasal passages are very common causes of snoring.

She adds, “a constricted airway, narrow nostrils, or having “smushed” faces like pugs”, could contribute to it.

A constricted airway can be due to many things, such as an allergic reaction. This triggers the excess release of histamines which can cause your dog discomfort and inflammation. The resulting breathing difficulty may then lead to snoring.

Both rhinitis and sinusitis also obstruct the nasal passages via inflamed sinuses and mucus membranes.

cute dog sleeping in the couch

Obesity

Why do dogs snore due to obesity?

Karen Purcell, a vet from North Carolina, notes that “narrowed sinus passages or upper respiratory tract, overweight, or other health conditions lead to snoring.”

Obesity isn’t a condition reserved for humans. Dogs, too, have to watch what they eat. When they become overweight or obese, fat builds around their organs and in empty spaces in their bodies, including the area around their neck or throat.

As an obese dog lies down, it puts pressure on the windpipe, causing breathing difficulties. The obstruction of the airway and the disruption of the airflow induce snoring.

Being obese is a serious problem for dogs. Not only does it prompt snoring but it also increases the risk of other health issues like heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and cancer.

Help your dog lose weight safely and gradually by:

  • Increasing physical exercise
  • Decreasing meal portion sizes slowly over time
  • Providing a nutritionally balanced diet

Your vet can provide more guidance on the types of food your dog can take for weight loss.

Allergies and Infections

Both seasonal and year-round sensitivities to food, dust, pollens, and mold inflame the nasal passages and limit airflow. An allergic reaction can also produce extra mucus which limits breathing and produces nasal discharge.

“If a dog’s nasal discharge is ever green or bloody, this could signal an infection or blockage that should be seen by a vet”, explains Dr. Ann Hohenhaus, DVM.

Sometimes, sneezing and a congested nose may be signs of a cold. But if the symptoms worsen and a nasal discharge follows, it could be an allergy. Your vet can prescribe some medication to relieve your pet’s discomfort.

Reduce allergens by keeping your dog inside the house with the air conditioning on. If you let it outside, be sure to wash its paws and face to rid it of any allergens it may have picked up.

How Can You Help Your Dog Snore Less?

After answering the question, why does my dog snore, your next step should be finding solutions.

No matter how much you love your pet, you wouldn’t want to lose sleep over its loud snoring.

Here are some tips on how to stop dog snoring:

Diet and Exercise

According to Dr. Carol Osborne, founder of Chagrin Falls Veterinary Center & Pet Clinic in Ohio, snoring is often a symptom of hypothyroidism. It occurs when the thyroid gland does not produce enough of the hormone that regulates metabolism.

Poor metabolism causes obesity in 20% of dogs.

Diagnosis is done by drawing blood. If results show low thyroid levels, your vet will prescribe medicine.

An overweight dog has a high tendency to snore but a healthy diet and regular exercise can go a long way to mitigate it.

For obese dogs with difficulty moving, low-impact exercises like walking and swimming exert less strain on the joints. You can also use toys and games like fetch to encourage them to move more.

Ask your vet to recommend food high in nutrients but low in calories.

Nutritional Food

Sometimes, overweight dogs snore because their soft palate has collapsed. Having your pet eat healthier and move more will help ease it.

Here are a few ways to start:

  • Make them consume less fat
  • Increase their fiber intake
  • Reduce or stop using dog treats
  • Boost their water intake

Before beginning any diet plan, make sure to talk to your vet first.

Allergies are another reason to examine your dog’s diet. As mentioned above, an allergic reaction induces snoring. It could also result in throat swelling and other respiratory issues.

Dairy products, eggs, wheat, soy, and corn are common causes of allergic reactions. Try temporarily removing these food items one by one and observe the effects, then eliminate the triggers permanently.

dog lying on the floor with a humidifier

Air Humidifiers

Dry air can irritate and dry the lungs, which results in sinusitis and even dehydration.

If you live in a low-humidity area, help your pets sleep better at night by using a humidifier. Air humidifiers facilitate their easier breathing by adding moisture to the air and keeping their nasal passages moist.

Annual Veterinary Visits

Regular vet checkups can help you spot and address health issues as early as possible. Tooth infection, blocked nasal passages, and sleep apnea are all easier to treat when diagnosed at the onset.

Likewise, vet visits will help you understand your pet’s breed-specific characteristics better. If it turns out that it is naturally vulnerable to snoring, then you can make lifestyle adjustments immediately to curb the problem before it even starts.

“As we breed dogs to have shorter snouts, the soft palate in the back of their throat does not change”, explains renowned Hollywood vet Dr. Jeff Werber.

This can be problematic because if their soft palates grow too long and sit too far back, they could block the airways. That’s why short-nosed dogs are prone to sleep apnea.

Other health conditions which induce snoring can also be managed more efficiently with a vet’s close supervision.

For instance, dogs that gain weight due to hypothyroidism may require medication for life. Or you may opt for surgery or radiation therapy. Annual visits to the vet will aid in your dog’s recovery and weight management.

dog sleeping on the floor

Frequently Asked Questions

What Causes a Dog to Snore?

It could be either a blockage in its windpipe or breathing irregularity.

It’s probably nothing to worry about, but if it bothers you, you can try changing their sleeping position to see if it minimizes snoring. When dogs lie on their back, the position usually induces snoring as their tongue ends up blocking their windpipe.

However, if you notice your dog snoring more than usual, or if they’re making other unusual noises while sleeping, talk to your vet. Other potential culprits are allergies, dental problems, weight problems, and sleep apnea.

Why Does My Dog Snore When Awake?

That’s one symptom of stertor, a problem with the dog’s nasal cavity, often an obstruction in the larynx. It usually occurs when small foreign bodies such as sticks, grass, cotton balls, or peas get stuck in their nasopharyngeal region.

Dogs may also make snoring noises when they have a dental abscess because the infection causes swelling and drainage into the nasal passages.

On the other hand, there is also a small chance that your dog has cancer or a laryngeal tumor.

All these are serious conditions indicating that when your dog snores while awake, it’s a symptom you shouldn’t ignore. Head to the vet right away.

Is It Normal for Dogs to Snore?

Snoring isn’t usually a cause for alarm, especially in dogs with short noses, unless you notice multiple symptoms accompanying it. Do they have difficulty breathing or eating? Or gasp for air as they wake up?

If you spot these symptoms, check with your vet.

Do Brachycephalic Breeds Snore More Loudly Than Other Dogs?

English bulldogs, shih tzus, pugs, and Boston terriers are just a few examples of brachycephalic dogs — they have broad, short skulls and shorter snouts.

These features make it difficult for them to breathe and cause them to snore more often, and louder, than other breeds. Among them, pugs are probably the noisiest of the bunch.

 

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Paul Andrews
https://www.linkedin.com/in/paul-andrews-172490189/

A digital marketing expert by profession, Andrews is a gifted writer and animal lover at heart. A self-confessed "pawrent", Andrews is well-versed in all things dogs. He uses his years of experience of raising puppies into show-quality dogs to help guide first-time pet parents. He believes in spreading the joy that comes with being a dog dad and advocates more families to adopt pets.