Snoring in dogs is completely normal until it starts to become excessive. Find out below why dogs snore, what causes it, and when you should be concerned.
What is snoring?
Snoring is a noisy sound that occurs when breathing is blocked in the airways while asleep. As the muscles loosen during sleep, the airway gets narrower in the back of the throat. This causes breathing to make fluttery noises while sleeping— it’s the vibration of the tissues near the airway.
Why do dogs snore?
The causes for snoring in dogs can be as simple as their sleeping position or can be as tricky as a fungal disease. Below are a few examples of why dogs snore.
Blocked nasal passages
Dogs snore like humans because sometimes their nasal passages or throat are blocked. Occasionally dogs snore because their large tongues droop to the back of their throat while sleeping which hinders their breathing from moving usually.
Obesity causes plenty of health problems to dogs and snoring happens to be one of them. Snoring is common in overweight or obese dogs due to the extra fat they carry in their neck and throat. This fat build-up makes it difficult for them to breathe easily because it obstructs the airways. More importantly, the excess weight puts pressure on their breathing system. Their ribcage and lungs have to work harder every time they breathe because of this. It is highly recommended to watch your dog’s weight by providing a proper diet and regular exercise.
Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder found both in humans and pets. Although it is less common in dogs, the symptoms are similar. Dogs with sleep apnea have shallow breathing. Sometimes their breathing will suddenly stop for a few seconds, then they will jolt awake and take a sharp intake of breath. If you think your dog has sleep apnea, consult a veterinarian immediately. Sleep apnea is a serious condition that can result in sudden deaths in pets.
Dogs with untreated dental problems can induce snoring. The swelling in their oral cavity and sinuses caused by a tooth abscess or abnormal growth in that region will make them snore. It is important to have these issues checked immediately because toothaches are extremely painful for dogs.
Debris in nose or throat
Since dogs use their sniffers often, it’s not surprising that some debris can get stuck in their noses. The same thing goes for their throat as they are also big on tasting / licking anything that piques their curiosity. Once in a while, foreign objects or debris will get lodged in their nose or throat which causes them to snore. If you suspect that something is stuck in your dog’s nose or throat, contact your vet right away.
According to VCA Canada, Aspergillosis is an “infection, growth, or allergic response caused by the Aspergillus fungi.” This type of fungi sheds microscopic spores in the air that can be easily inhaled. Aspergillosis affects susceptible dogs and triggers allergic reactions or infections. Infected dogs can exhibit symptoms like sneezing, swelling, and snoring. Further exposure to the fungi can cause serious issues and any affected dogs must be treated accordingly.
Just like us humans, dogs can get rhinitis too. The common symptoms of the stuffy and runny nose will make your dog snore. You may also notice frequent sneezing and labored breathing from them. Rhinitis in dogs can be treated with antibiotics and an additional humidifier in the room.
Your dog’s allergic reaction to dust, pollen, or any microbes can be the cause of their loud snores. To prevent this from happening, rinse your pup’s paws after walks and before they enter the house. Use hypoallergenic hygiene products and do some frequent dusting or cleaning. If you are not sure whether your dog is allergic to anything, consider asking a veterinarian for an allergy test.
Their sleeping habits—like sleeping on their back— can induce snoring too. If this is the case, just gently lay your pup on their side and prop their head with a pillow to allow their airways to open up.
Living with a smoker
If you are smoking inside your home, your furry friend can definitely inhale your secondhand smoke. And surely by now, we are all aware of the dangers of secondhand smoke. Dogs, just like humans, can be affected by this and it can lead them to serious lung damage. Dogs who live with a smoker can have bronchitis or asthma which leads to their loud snoring. Please check with your veterinarian if your pet has incurred any damages to their respiratory health.
Your dog’s age can also be a factor in why they snore. Long-nosed breed dogs are more likely to have worse snores as they get older. This is due to a condition called laryngeal paralysis where the larynx nerves deteriorate which results in a floppy larynx that blocks airflow.
Is it probably a sign of an underlying health issue?
Of course, as dogs get older, their immune system weakens. Older dogs are more susceptible to contracting diseases and infections. If you find that your senior dog is suddenly snoring, it couldn’t hurt to have them checked by a veterinarian.
Certain dog breeds are more likely to snore because of their nose shapes.
Any dog with a short snout snores
Dogs with short snouts are called Brachycephalic breeds. These breeds appear to have more ‘pushed-in’ facial features and are more colloquially called flat-faced dogs. These dogs are prone to having breathing problems due to their elongated soft palates and smaller nostrils. These physical traits hinder them from breathing like normal dogs, and it also makes them snore more (and louder). Although it’s common for Brachycephalic breeds to snore and wheeze, it does not mean that it should be taken for granted. They still need veterinary care if it gets worse or if it’s more abnormal than before.
These dogs snore loudly:
- The pug
- The bulldog
- The Shih Tzu
- The French bulldog
- The Boston terrier
When should you be concerned?
You should be concerned if you notice that your dog’s snoring for the first time or if it has gotten worse. It’s possible that it’s nothing serious, but it is still advisable to consult a veterinarian in case there are any underlying issues you need to know.
It should also concern you if other symptoms appear alongside snoring.
Crown Veterinary Specialists & Associates listed the following symptoms to watch out for:
- Discharge from the eyes and nose could be signs of a respiratory infection
- Behavioral changes such as lethargy or a loss of appetite
- Difficulty swallowing or choking on food
- Panting, coughing, wheezing, open mouth breathing, or gasping for air
- Swollen facial areas
Otherwise, if your dog maintains to be a healthy and lively dog despite the snoring, then there’s nothing for you to worry about.
Dogs snore due to several reasons. It can be as simple as an airway blockage due to their large droopy tongues, or it can be complicated like Bronchitis or Asthma. It also varies depending on the dog breed. Long-nosed dogs tend to be more susceptible to snoring as they get older due to the deterioration of their larynx nerves. Meanwhile, short-nosed dogs or Brachycephalic dog breeds are more prone to snoring because of their small nostrils and flat faces. They will also pose difficulty in breathing which needs constant attention from owners. Overall, if a dog maintains their healthy self despite the loud snore at night, then all should be well.