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Why does my dog snore?

Written by Ella White

Updated

Bulldog having a sleep in a garden chair

Like humans, many dogs snore. And whether they sleep downstairs in their own space or share a bed with you – the noise can be disruptive. And though dogs snoring can be totally normal, it could also be a sign that something is wrong.

In this article we’ll look at why dogs snore, the causes of snoring in dogs, and when your dog’s snoring might be a problem.

Why Do Dogs Snore?

When air passes through the nose, mouth, and throat, the tissues can vibrate which causes snoring. Some dogs (and humans) will snore every night, but it is most commonly caused by inflammation or congestion that causes the airways to narrow more than usual.

Dogs might snore because they naturally have an abnormal swell to their mouth or throat, because they’re lying in a way that causes a blockage to their airways, or because a secondary condition is causing issues with their breathing.

Is It Normal For Dogs To Snore?

A bit of snoring from time to time can be perfectly normal in dogs. But if your dog snores constantly all night, or if they have recently started snoring much more than usual, it could be a sign of something else.

Brachycephalic breeds with short faces, like pugs and bulldogs, are more likely to snore because their small skull doesn’t have enough room for their mouth and throat tissues. Owners of these breeds will know that they snuffle and snort throughout the day, and often snore while they’re asleep.

Though this can be thought of as ‘normal’, it could still be a sign that their breathing troubles have worsened, and owners of brachycephalic dogs should keep a close eye on changes to their breathing during sleep.

What Causes Snoring in Dogs? 

There are a number of potential causes of snoring. Some mild, and some more serious.

Allergies

Because allergies can cause the nasal passages and throat to constrict, you might notice that your dog snores more if they are suffering from an allergic reaction. Snoring will not be the main symptom of an allergy, so if you know they have inflammation, itchiness, or other allergy symptoms then you might also notice that they snore while they sleep. This can usually be cleared up with medications that will be prescribed depending on the cause of your dog’s allergy.

Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS)

Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS) affects dogs with short snouts, like Pugs, French and English Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Pekingese and Shih Tzus. Their small skulls and short nostrils mean their soft palate hangs into the throat, causing them to snort, snuffle, and snore more than other breeds. This obstruction of the airway can lead to other, more serious conditions and should be monitored closely in all brachycephalic dogs.

Obesity

Excess fat can build up around the mouth and throat in obese dogs, blocking the airway and causing snoring while they sleep. So if your dog already snores, and they become obese, their snoring is likely to worsen. Obesity can lead to other life-threatening issues in dogs and should be treated with a vet-approved, calorie-controlled diet.

Respiratory Disease

Diseases that affect the airways can cause inflammation in the throat which makes snoring more likely. So if your dog has kennel cough or another breathing issue, snoring is likely to be one of the symptoms.

Sleep Apnea

Both animals and humans can suffer from sleep apnea, where normal breathing rhythm is disrupted or stops during sleep. Usually, dogs with sleep apnea will stop breathing for a few seconds then when their breathing starts again it is released as a snort or snore. Sleep apnea is fairly rare in dogs and should be diagnosed and treated by your vet.

Sleep Position

The position your dog is sleeping in can cause them to snore, without any more serious underlying issue as the cause. Dogs asleep on their back might snore because their tongue or other throat issues drop into their airway, causing a blockage or narrowing.

If it’s keeping you awake, you can wake them up and encourage them to move into a different position. But snoring due to the position of their body should not cause any other issues to your dog’s health.

When Is Dog’s Snoring A Problem?

It often sounds like dogs are snoring more loudly than they should – often because brachycephalic breeds, that snore more often and more loudly, tend to be smaller and therefore their volume of their snoring can sound excessive.

Loud snoring is caused by the amount of tissue blocking the airway, and the speed at which they are breathing. But how do you know when this is problematic?

If you’re unsure as to whether your dog’s snoring is normal, speak to your vet. They will be able to advise on whether your dog’s airways are blocked or congested, and run examinations to check for underlying issues that might be causing excessive snoring.

Though some snoring can be expected from all dog breeds, you should call the vet immediately if you notice any of the following symptoms accompanying their snoring:

  • Excessively fast breathing or panting
  • Trouble breathing
  • Coughing
  • Collapsing
  • Blue tongue or lips

Can I Stop My Dog From Snoring? 

Before trying any home remedies to stop your dog from snoring, you should take them to the vet to rule out any underlying issues. If they are diagnosed with a health condition that causes snoring, it’s important to stick to any courses of medication or therapy that might be prescribed.

If they’ve been given the all clear, but the snoring is still keeping you awake or disrupting your relaxation, there are a few steps you can take to help clear their airways and prevent snoring.

  • Keep an eye on the positions that they’re more likely to snore in and encourage them not to fall asleep in that position
  • Change their bed to something with raised sides to or a higher area for them to rest their head on
  • An air humidifier can make snoring quieter