You are taking a nap with your canine friend and suddenly you hear snoring. You may think it’s adorable or maybe the snoring keeps you up at night. Either way, snoring may indicate a medical problem, in some cases. Read on to learn more about why your dog is snoring.
Why Do Dogs Snore?
Snoring is a sound that is generated during sleep by vibration of loose tissue in the upper airway. Snoring occurs when the passages in the upper airways which include the nose, back of the mouth, or throat vibrate audibly during breathing. Vibrations and the resulting snoring are most likely to occur when the tissues of the upper airways are relaxed during sleep.
Snoring in dogs can be normal, especially if it's mild. But in some cases, snoring may indicate a medical problem, especially if the snoring is excessive. There are various reasons that can cause your dogs to snore when they are sleeping but below are some of the most common causes.
Brachycephalic dog breeds, such as Pugs, Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Pekingese, and Boxers are often predisposed to snoring. The term "brachycephalic” comes from two words, with “brachy” meaning shortened and “cephalic” meaning head. Hence, the skull bones of brachycephalic dogs are shortened in length, giving the face and nose a pushed-in appearance. With the shortened nasal passages of these dogs, they often develop breathing problems, including snoring.
Excess Weight or Obesity
Overweight dogs have a higher tendency to snore due to excess fat deposited in the tissues surrounding the upper airways. This is one of the many reasons you should try to prevent your dog from becoming overweight.
Dogs can sleep in the most unbelievable positions due to how flexible they are and sometimes these awkward positions can cause your dog to snore. If this is the case, the sound should be brief and stop when your dog changes positions.
Respiratory illnesses, including bacterial or fungal infections and asthma, can often cause snoring. Other symptoms of respiratory infections include discharge from the eyes and nose, sneezing, coughing, and decreased activity and appetite.
Presence of Foreign Objects
Foreign objects in the back of the mouth or nose can trigger snoring as well as coughing and agitation.
Dental issues, such as periodontal disease, an abscessed tooth, or any growth or mass in the oral cavity or sinus can be the root cause of snoring.
In addition to the above, other possible causes include allergies, polyps or masses, inflammation, and/or trauma.
What To Do If Your Do Is Snoring
Although snoring can be normal for your dog, it’s important to know when to be concerned. If you notice your dog suddenly starts snoring, snoring becomes louder, or your dog is experiencing other symptoms along with snoring such as sneezing, coughing, and changes in appetite or behavior, you should contact your veterinarian. If you ever notice your dog wheezing or having difficulty breathing, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Treatment for Snoring in Dogs
Occasional mild snoring does not typically require treatment, but it's best to notify your vet just to be sure. If your dog's snoring is concerning, your vet may recommend a sedated upper airway exam to get a look at the tissue in that area. This will also enable the vet to check the teeth and oral cavity. Additional diagnostics may include X-rays and lab tests.
Treatment options will depend on the cause of your dog's snoring. If your dog has brachycephalic syndrome, surgery may be necessary to correct it. A foreign body may require a rhinoscopy, esophagoscopy, or surgery to remove the culprit. Respiratory infections are typically treated with medications and supportive care. Dental concerns may require a professional dental cleaning and surgery.
How to Prevent Snoring in Dogs
Snoring can be normal and is more common in some breeds than others, but there are health issues that can increase the likelihood of snoring. Fortunately, there are ways you can help prevent snoring in your dog.
- Diet and Exercise: It is important to work with your veterinarian to design an appropriate weight management plan that includes weight checks, exercise, and calculations for calories based on your individual dog.
- Food Puzzles: Food puzzles help to slow down eating and prevent boredom and obesity. There are various food-dispensing toys for dogs that you can purchase, and you can even make your own. Start with an easier, beginner puzzle and work up based on your individual dog's preference.
- Air Purifiers: Air purifiers can help reduce snoring triggered by allergies and respiratory irritants.
- Annual/biannual Veterinary Visits: Regular wellness exams are an important part of keeping your dog happy and healthy. Annual to biannual vet visits can help make you aware if your dog is overweight or has another medical issue and preventive care is always better than reactive care.
Snoring can sometimes be a normal sleeping habit. However, if your dog’s snoring is accompanied by other physical or behavioral changes, your veterinarian is the one to contact.
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German, A. et al. Cohort Study of the Success of Controlled Weight Loss Programs for Obese Dogs. J Vet Intern Med, vol. 29, no. 6, pp. 1547-1555, 2015. doi:10.1111/jvim.13629