Just like us humans, dogs can also suffer from a nasty snoring habit, commonly occurring when air movement is obstructed through the nose or throat.
If you have a dog that snores particularly loudly, it can make bedtime very difficult, especially if you share a room! Even if they are in their own dog bed, you may still be able to hear those noises drifting up the stairs.
But is it anything to worry about?
Why do dogs snore?
Usually, a dog will snore for one of these reasons:
- A weakness in the throat muscles creates a partial closing of the airway when asleep
- A misaligned jaw
- Extra fat tissue around the throat causes an obstruction
- A blockage in the nose or throat
- The tongue falls back into the mouth, enough to partially block the airway
A lot of these reasons can be caused by something as simple as your dog sleeping in a funny position, and are generally nothing to worry about.
However, others can be signs of underlying health issues and so your pup’s snoring could require a medical investigation.
To help you get to the bottom of what’s causing your canine’s nightly snorting, consult our guide below:
Why is my dog snoring?
There are various reasons why your dog may snore, from health reasons to them simply being in a comfortable (but not good for their throat) sleeping position!
If your dog is brachycephalic, it will almost certainly snore and it’s very rarely something to worry about.
Brachycephalic breeds have broad, squat faces with a characteristically short snout which naturally means they have a shorter respiratory passage and are far more likely to snore over other breeds.
Brachycephalic dog breeds include:
- Bull Mastiffs
- Shih Tzus
- Boston Terriers
- Lhasa Apsos
- Chinese Pugs
As humans have bred these dogs to have shorter snouts over time, their long soft palates have not evolved in tandem. This combination of collapsed nostrils and long soft palates causes restricted breathing in brachycephalic dogs and so unsurprisingly, they snore quite a bit.
However, this can be a problem, as brachycephalic pups often suffer from a whole host of respiratory issues. As well as narrowed nostrils, they can also suffer from a small trachea, everted laryngeal saccules, nasopharyngeal turbinates and laryngeal collapse.
Although this all sounds very complicated, these abnormalities essentially result in your dog suffering from something called brachycephalic airway syndrome.
In severe cases, this obstructs breathing to a level where it places strain on their heart, inflames their airway structure and causes fainting, retching and vomiting.
If your dog appears to be struggling to breathe while awake and is exhibiting particularly laboured snoring, it may require an evaluation from a veterinary professional. In severe cases they will probably receive some form of surgery to correct their issues, helping to ease their breathing.
However, it’s unlikely any surgery will stop their snoring.
Obesity and low fitness
In non-brachycephalic breeds, the most common reason for snoring is usually due to excessive weight gain and poor fitness. Obesity in dogs is a growing problem, and overfeeding your pet can lead to a build-up in fatty tissue obstructing their airways and throat.
If your dog never had a snoring problem before and now suddenly does, it’s probably time to evaluate whether they are overweight and not getting enough exercise. By increasing their activity level and making some important changes to their diet and portion sizes, you may find their snoring naturally ceases as they lose weight.
Just like humans, dogs can also suffer from sleep apnoea, a serious condition in which you stop breathing for periods of time during sleep.
If you notice your pup is holding onto their breath while sleeping, or has long, periodical gaps between breaths, they could well be suffering from the issue. Make sure to book an appointment with your vet if you suspect your dog’s snoring is sleep apnoea.
Cold & Flu
If your dog is suffering from cold or flu, snoring is likely to be a very common symptom, as the increased mucus causes an obstruction of their airways.
Providing their illness doesn’t evolve into something more serious, their snoring is likely to subside once they are fit and healthy again.
If your pet hasn’t been tested for allergies, you might be surprised to learn their snoring could be due to the irritation and sensitivity of an allergic reaction. Dogs can be sensitive to all sorts of things, from grass to your perfume, all of which could affect their airways.
Drugs that relax your dog’s throat muscles such as painkillers and muscle relaxants could potentially be causing a partial closing of the throat. Which always equals snoring.
If an abscessed tooth begins to obstruct the nasal sinus passage, this can cause snoring and infection throughout your pet’s body if left untreated. Make sure you are frequently examining your pet’s teeth to check for harmful diseases.
If you smoke like a chimney around your pooch, it can damage their respiratory system much like humans. This, in turn, leads to issues like bronchitis and snoring.
If your little angel looks like they’re trying to sleep on their own head half the time, it’s more than likely this is causing some sort of airway blockage. It’s far more likely for dogs who sleep on their back to snore than those that lay on their front!
Most dogs don’t stay in one position all night though, so will naturally change or waken when this gets uncomfortable or they need air. Let sleeping dogs lie unless they seem to be in trouble.
A form of fungal infection, aspergillosis is caused by a species of mould found throughout our environment. It is commonly found in things like grass, hay and dust, entering a pup’s nose and causing symptoms like sneezing, swelling… and snoring.
It also affects humans, so is a serious issue you need to sort out not just for your dog but for your whole family.
When to call the vet about your dog’s snoring
Dog snoring is usually only a cause for alarm if it is a sudden issue they have only just developed.
If they have no previous history of snoring but begin to do so, it could be an indicator of infection or a blockage in the nose or throat. This needs to be investigated by a veterinary professional.
Owners of brachycephalic dogs should always have their dogs examined by a vet as soon as they come into their care. They will ensure any respiratory problems are identified, and whether anything should be done.
If your dog has always snored and is otherwise healthy, active and playful, then, unfortunately, they probably are just a snorer. Always check with your vet to double-check, though.
If this is the case, there isn’t much you can do. But earplugs are available!