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Dog Snoring: Is it Normal?

Dog sleeping on couch
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Anybody who lives with a snorer knows that snoring can disrupt sleep. Dog snoring can be just as disruptive to your sleep as human snoring can, but it can also be a sign that something isn’t right with your dog. 

Why Is My Dog Snoring? 

Snoring happens when air movement through the nose, mouth and throat is partially obstructed in the airways. The air vibrates tissues in the throat, which wobble and give off a characteristic snoring sound. This is more likely to happen during sleep, when muscles that hold these tissues out of the way relax, allowing them to flop into the airway. 

Dogs who snore usually have abnormal anatomy or swelling in their mouth or throat, causing the snoring sound, although sometimes their snoring will be just due to sleeping in a strange position.

Is Dog Snoring Normal?

Close up of dog nose snoring

One study showed that 58 percent of pet parents of dogs with breathing problems like snoring thought their dogs were normal. Although dog snoring is relatively common, snoring shouldn’t be ignored as it’s often a sign of an underlying problem. While the underlying problem may not always be serious, it’s best to get dog snoring investigated in case it’s a sign of something more concerning.

In some breeds, snoring is extremely common. Brachycephalic, or “short-snouted” breeds like Pugs and French Bulldogs often make snoring noises all the time. This is because their short skull cannot easily contain all of their mouth and throat tissues, causing a lot of tissue to protrude into the airway. This is called Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS). 

The same study showed that snoring affected 93 percent of dogs with BOAS, with over half snoring “almost constantly.” Although many people would say that these dogs’ snuffling and snorting sounds are “normal for the breed,” it’s still a problem and should be investigated.

Why Do Dogs Snore So Loudly?

Dog sleeping in bed

Do you think your dog snores louder than any dog you’ve heard? The volume of a dog’s snore is due to two things:

  • The speed of the air they’re breathing in
  • The amount of tissue that’s causing the obstruction

Bigger dogs are likely to have a bigger snore, but this doesn’t always hold true—small dogs with very obstructed airways will snore loudly, too. 

Despite this, it’s pretty standard for dogs to sound like they’re snoring quite loudly for their size and louder snores are more common in dogs with narrower airways, so a loud snore is more concerning than a quiet one.

What Causes Snoring in Dogs? 

Beagle dog sleeping on couch

If you’ve noticed your dog’s snoring, you’re right to be concerned. There’s always a cause, some of which are more serious than others. Let’s have a look at the common causes of snoring in dogs:

Body Position

One of the milder causes of snoring in dogs, positional snoring only happens when your dog is in a specific position, like on their back. Their tongue or soft tissues flop over their airway, causing the snore. If your dog only ever snores when deep asleep in an unusual position, this is likely the cause. Thankfully, positional snoring is not a concern as long as your dog doesn’t suffer from sleep apnea.

Dog Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea occurs when normal breathing stops during sleep. Affected animals will stop breathing for several seconds and then suddenly wake, often with a snort. Luckily, sleep apnea in dogs is rare. 

BOAS

As previously mentioned, Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS) is a condition affecting short-snouted dogs. Repeated breeding for shorter snouts has resulted in dogs with smaller nostrils and shorter skulls but normal-length soft palates. The soft palate dangles into the throat, causing the snuffling, snorting and snoring sounds so common in these breeds. A lifetime of breathing past this partial obstruction can cause other parts of the throat to swell or change, further reducing the airway. 

BOAS is more likely to be the cause of snoring if you have one of the following breeds:

  • Pug
  • French Bulldog
  • English Bulldog
  • Pomeranian
  • Boston Terrier
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
  • Pekingese
  • Shih Tsu

Obesity

Obesity is another cause of snoring, as excess fat can build up around the mouth and throat tissues, causing them to protrude into the airways and disrupt air movement. Obesity in dogs can occur alongside other causes of snoring and worsen it.

Allergies

Your dog might start snoring if the nasal passages are inflamed due to an allergy. Snoring is unlikely to be the only symptom of allergies in dogs, but it might be seen alongside other signs. These might include itching, licking the feet, ear infections or sneezing. 

Respiratory Disease

Any disease of the airways, such as kennel cough, can cause the throat to become inflamed and cause snoring. Snoring won’t be the only symptom of the disease – you’ll likely see coughing or sneezing as well.

When Should I Worry About My Dog’s Snoring?

Sweet dog snuggled in a blanket

Discussing your dog’s snoring with your veterinarian is always best before trying dog snoring remedies at home. If your dog suddenly starts snoring and it isn’t related to only one sleeping position, you should book a check-up in the next week. You should book an appointment even sooner if your dog has started snoring while awake. 

If your snoring dog is a brachycephalic breed, you should book an appointment with your vet in the next few weeks to have them assessed for BOAS. Some things can be done to help dogs with BOAS, so it’s worth having the assessment performed.

If your senior dog has started snoring, they also need a check-up. Old age isn’t a cause of snoring alone and suggests there’s something else happening you should investigate.

If your dog is snoring only occasionally or at particular times of the year, you don’t need to bring them to the vet until their next routine check-up. However, if you notice them deteriorate, you should move the appointment forward. Signs that your dog needs an urgent veterinary appointment include:

  • Fast breathing (more than 40 breaths in a minute when sleeping) or continuous panting
  • Struggling to breathe (increased effort, ribs moving more than usual)
  • Blue-tinged lips or tongue
  • Snoring accompanied by coughing or collapse

How Do I Stop My Dog From Snoring? 

If your dog’s snoring is keeping you awake at night, you might be hoping for some snoring remedies for dogs. You should first consult your vet – they’ll advise surgery, a diet plan, or medications if appropriate.

At home, you may wish to try changing your dog’s bed. Take note of which positions cause your dog to snore and see if there’s a bed that prevents your dog from sleeping in those positions. For instance, you might want a dog bed with raised sides for your dog to rest their head on. Some people also suggest using a humidifier – although it won’t stop your dog from snoring, it might make their snore a little quieter. 

Related Conditions 

  • BOAS (Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome)
  • Obesity
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