Why Is My Dog Snoring?

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Dogs love to sleep and nap throughout the day. However, they don't always do it quietly. Many dogs snore when they sleep for various reasons, ranging from allergies to more serious health concerns. Additionally, some dogs are more prone to snoring than others based on their anatomy. If your dog has always snored from time to time, it's usually not something to worry about. However, if your dog has recently started snoring, it could indicate a serious health problem. 

Dog snoring can be irritating, especially at night when you're trying to sleep next to your pooch. However, it's something that should be addressed with your vet, especially if your dog rarely snores and has recently started snoring every time they sleep. Since snoring is quite common, there are many different causes for it, some of which can't be prevented. So, if you're wondering, "why does my dog snore?" you've come to the right place. This article will discuss common reasons why your dog snores and when to be concerned. 

What Is Snoring?

Snoring is something we're all familiar with; it's a harsh sound that occurs when air passes through relaxed muscles in the throat, causing vibration as someone breathes.1 Since relaxed muscles cause a narrower airway, they can produce a loud snore, and the narrower the airway, the louder the snore.1

Is It Normal For Dogs To Snore?

Dog snoring is normal for the most part. However, sometimes it can indicate a more serious medical condition. 

Reasons Dogs Snore

Reasons dogs snore

There are many reasons dogs snore. The most common reason is due to the relaxation of the airways, which can occur for many reasons. Ultimately, some dogs are more prone to snoring than others, but snoring suddenly could indicate something more sinister. 

Anatomy

Some breeds are more prone to snoring based on their anatomy. Brachycephalic breeds, including the French Bulldog, Boxer, Pug, Shih Tzu, and Chow Chows, which have short heads and noses, are more prone to store due to congenital defects.2 Many of these breeds also have Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome, in which the malformed nostrils collapse when breathing and elongated soft palates obstruct the airway.3 Many of these dogs pant at night because of their short muzzles, which may turn into snoring once they go to sleep. 

These conditions often require surgery because they prevent the dog from being able to breathe properly and can result in death, with respiratory disorders being the cause of death for 17% of dogs with extreme brachycephalic conformation.4

Allergies

If you've ever suffered from allergies, you may know how difficult breathing is, leading you to open your mouth to breathe while you sleep. Dogs do the same thing. Dog allergies can cause congestion, sneezing, and a runny nose can obstruct the airways, causing snoring.5 Since congestion and a runny nose can cause nasal passages to narrow and restrict airflow, dogs may open their mouths more during sleep to breathe better. They may also sneeze or snort when they're awake during the day. 

Obesity

Overweight and morbidly obese dogs can have difficulty breathing because the fat can collect in the throat and block the airways, causing snoring when they sleep.6 Obese dogs may also display breathing difficulty when awake and engage in regular activities like walking. You can stop your dog's snoring due to obesity by working with a vet who can develop a nutrition and exercise plan to get your dog down to a healthy weight. 

Sleeping Position

Believe it or not, how your dog sleeps can also cause snoring, even in healthy dogs that don't have short snouts. Similar to humans, snoring in dogs occurs more often when they sleep on their backs in the supine position because gravity pulls the throat tissues downward, narrowing the airway.7 The easiest way to stop your dog's snoring is to move them onto their side or give them a pillow to rest their head to lift it and prevent the airways from becoming too narrow. 

The supine position is not the only sleeping position that makes breathing more difficult. For example, if your dog sleeps on their side, it could narrow the airways enough to make them snore. 

Foreign Object

Anything stuck in the dog's nose or airway can lead to snoring. For example, your dog could have anything from a small blade of grass stuck in their nose from sniffing while on a walk to a growth within their nasal passageway, causing the airway to shrink and causing snoring. Dogs with an obstruction in their nose may reverse sneeze in an attempt to remove it, so if you see your dog rubbing their nose against furniture or reverse sneezing, check their nostrils to ensure there's nothing stuck in their nose. 

Secondhand Smoke

Secondhand smoke is harmful to people and pets.8 Anything that irritates the nasal passageways, including smoke, can cause snoring. Dogs who live with smokers are more likely to have difficulty breathing and can develop lung diseases.9 Smoke leads to irritation and inflammation of the airway, restricting your dog's ability to breathe properly. Dogs with irritation due to secondhand smoke may cough throughout the day or spend time away from the smoke in another area of the house. 

Bacterial Infection

Bacterial infections can also cause snoring in dogs because it irritates and inflames the airways. 

  • Tooth abscess: Tooth abscesses can cause swelling in the tissue surrounding the infected tooth, preventing the free flow of air. Additionally, tooth abscesses can cause rhinitis or sinusitis when an upper tooth extends too far upward, resulting in an increased production of mucus that impedes airflow.10
  • Bacterial pneumonia: Pneumonia is a common lower respiratory infection that occurs when bacteria enter the lungs.11 Dogs with bacterial pneumonia may have a cough, difficulty breathing, wheezing, nasal discharge, fever, and lethargy.
  • Upper respiratory infection: Upper respiratory infections can be caused by bacteria or viruses that have symptoms like nasal congestion that make your dog snore. For example, Bordetella bronchiseptica is a common bacteria that causes upper respiratory infections in dogs, most commonly known as kennel cough. Luckily, you can get your dog vaccinated against Bordetella, which may be required if you plan to have your dog boarded. 

Fungal Infection

Fungal infections like blastomycosis come from a fungus often found in soil or decomposing leaves. The infection is characterized by internal lesions that can affect the lungs and skin, causing breathing problems.12 Since the fungus can be found in your yard, any dog that spends time outside sniffing grass, trees, or leaves is at risk. Side effects of a fungal infection are similar to those of a bacterial infection, including sneezing, runny nose, and snoring. 

Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism in dogs is a disease in which the thyroid gland doesn't produce enough hormones to regulate metabolism, which can cause weight gain. Snoring may indicate your dog isn't producing enough hormones.6 Other signs include weight gain, reduced appetite, and ear infections. 

When Should I Be Concerned About My Dog Snoring?

Contact the vet immediately if your dog is wheezing or has trouble breathing

Snoring is common in dogs and doesn't always indicate a serious medical concern. However, if your dog has only recently started snoring in their sleep and their sleeping position hasn't changed, and neither has their weight, it could indicate a serious underlying health concern. If you're concerned about your dog's snoring, you can discuss it with your vet at your pet's next visit to see if they offer any recommendations. Otherwise, you can let your dog snore and enjoy their slumber. 

However, since snoring could indicate something more sinister, you should contact the vet if your dog begins snoring suddenly and experiences any other symptoms of illness like lethargy or lack of appetite.6

If your dog is experiencing difficulty breathing, including wheezing or gasping for air, take them to the nearest emergency clinic for examination and treatment, as it could indicate a blockage in their airways. 

My Dog Snores A Lot: How To Help A Dog That Snores

Dogs may snore for various reasons, and most of the time, it won't affect their ability to sleep. They may not even know they're doing it. However, it can get irritating for pet parents who are trying to sleep. You can prevent snoring by understanding the reason for your dog's snoring. Here are a few ways you can help a snoring dog. 

  • Air purifier/clean room/humidifier: If your pet suffers from environmental allergies, they may benefit from an air purifier or humidifier that can help open up their nasal passageways to prevent snoring. You should also clean your home to remove any dust or mold.  
  • Treat illnesses: Since some illnesses may cause snoring, it's always best to follow your vet's instructions for at-home care. 
  • Losing weight: If your dog is snoring due to being overweight, they may need to lose weight to stop snoring. Your vet can help you develop a plan to help your dog lose weight, or you can go on more walks and put your pet on a diet. 
  • Change their sleeping position: If your dog snores while sleeping on their back, they might need a different sleeping position. Of course, you should never wake a sleeping dog, but you can give them a comfortable space that allows them to sleep comfortably in other positions by propping their head up on a pillow.
  • Talk to a vet: If you're ever concerned about your dog's breathing or snoring, it's always best to talk to your vet, who can examine your pet for possible signs of illness. 

Why Is My Dog Snoring?: FAQs

Is it normal for dogs to snore as they get older?

Senior dogs experience partial or complete laryngeal paralysis, affecting their ability to breathe while sleeping. However, it's completely normal for dogs to snore, no matter how old they are, as long as your vet has given them a clean bill of health. 

What are the signs of respiratory distress in a dog?

While snoring may indicate an underlying illness, it often doesn't cause your dog distress. Instead, signs of respiratory distress include wheezing, difficulty breathing, coughing, congestion, and fainting. If your dog shows any of these signs, take them to a vet immediately for examination and treatment. 

Can I give my dog Benadryl?

Benadryl is a safe and effective treatment for allergies in dogs. However, never try to treat your dog without first consulting a vet. Giving your dog too much Benadryl can be dangerous. Additionally, this antihistamine may cause drug interactions in dogs on medication. 

French Bulldog sleeping in dog bed with dog plushie

Final Notes

Dogs can snore for several reasons, ranging from their sleeping position to more serious health issues. The only way to know why your dog is snoring is to discuss it with your vet. While snoring is normal in dogs, most dogs snore now and then. If your dog is snoring much more than usual, it could indicate a more serious health problem. 

Ready to learn why your dog is snoring? Talk to a Dutch vet. Our vets can help you determine the cause of your dog's snoring and find solutions to help them feel more comfortable. Whether your dog needs allergy treatment or they snore because they're overweight, a Dutch vet can help. 

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References

  1. “Snoring.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 22 Dec. 2017, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/snoring/symptoms-causes/syc-20377694.

  2. Sassafras Lowrey, CTDI. “Brachycephalic Dog Breeds: A Guide to Flat-Faced Dogs.” American Kennel Club, 10 June 2022, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/dog-breeds/brachycephalic-dog-breeds/.

  3. “Brachycephalic Breeds' Snoring Could Require Surgery.” The Animal Health Foundation, 30 Apr. 2012, https://www.animalhealthfoundation.org/blog/2012/04/brachycephalic-breeds-snoring-could-require-surgery/.

  4. Runquist, Pam. “Brachycephalic Breeds Fact Sheet.” The Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, https://www.hsvma.org/brachycephalic.

  5. Howard E. LeWine, MD. “Do Allergies Make Snoring Worse?” Harvard Health, 1 Mar. 2022, https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/do-allergies-make-snoring-worse.

  6. “Does Your Dog Have a Snoring Problem?” PetMD, https://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/respiratory/does-your-dog-have-snoring-problem.

  7. “Why Do People Snore?” Sleep Foundation, 19 July 2022, https://www.sleepfoundation.org/snoring/common-causes.

  8. Commissioner, Office of the. “Secondhand (and Third-Hand) Smoke May Be Making Your Pet Sick.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA, https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/secondhand-and-third-hand-smoke-may-be-making-your-pet-sick.

  9. “Secondhand Smoke and Pets.” Secondhand Smoke and Pets | Breathe, https://www.uky.edu/breathe/tobacco-policy/quick-facts-topic/secondhand-smoke/secondhand-smoke-and-pets.

  10. Kuehn, Ned F. “Rhinitis and Sinusitis in Dogs - Dog Owners.” Merck Veterinary Manual, Merck Veterinary Manual, 18 Aug. 2022, https://www.merckvetmanual.com/dog-owners/lung-and-airway-disorders-of-dogs/rhinitis-and-sinusitis-in-dogs.

  11. “Dog Pneumonia.” PetMD, https://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/respiratory/dog-pneumonia.

  12. Taboada, Joseph. “Blastomycosis - Generalized Conditions.” Merck Veterinary Manual, 18 Aug. 2022, https://www.merckvetmanual.com/generalized-conditions/fungal-infections/blastomycosis.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is Dutch?

Dutch is an online veterinary pet telehealth service, created by pet parents and board-certified veterinary specialists. We use a science-backed approach to provide pets relief for their everyday physical and behavioral health issues. Dutch connects you with licensed veterinarians over video chat and messaging to help you get care for your dog or cat quickly wherever you are — without the stress or expense of a vet visit. We also partner with pharmacies who can deliver prescription medication (in applicable states only) and over-the-counter treatments directly to your door. Dutch isn’t a veterinary practice or pharmacy, but a company that helps facilitate these services for pet parents to make veterinary care more accessible to all.

What is a visit with Dutch like?

When booking a video call with a vet, you'll be asked a few questions about your pet’s health issue. Depending on the issue, you may also be asked to fill out a longer questionnaire about their symptoms and share photographs of them so our veterinarians can better understand what’s going on. You’ll then pick an appointment time that works best for you.

During your video call, one of our licensed veterinarians will talk to you about the symptoms your pet is experiencing, ask you questions, review your pet’s medical history if you’ve provided it, and answer any questions you have. The vet will ask to see your pet and their environment. And they may ask you to perform some simple checks on them if needed.

After your video call, the vet will send you a message with a custom treatment plan to help your pet feel better, including a link to buy any recommended prescription or over-the-counter medications. Place your order and we’ll ship it free.

How much will it cost for Dutch to treat my pet?

The Dutch membership starts at $15/mo for unlimited access to the vet. No more long waits for appointments or surprise bills.

In addition to the base membership plan, our veterinarians may also recommend additional medication (Rx and/or OTC) that you will have the option of adding to your plan at an additional cost.