Why Does My Dog Snore?

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 bed with the mischievous mutt! 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 Dogs Snore

Usually, a dog will snore for one of these reasons:

  • A weakness in the throat muscles which creates a partial closing of the airway when asleep
  • A misaligned jaw
  • Extra fat tissue around the throat causing an obstruction
  • A blockage in the nose or throat
  • The tongue falling back into the mouth, enough to partially block the airway

A lot of these 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:

Brachycephalic dogs

If your dog is brachycephalic, they 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.

pug getting a medical check up

These include Bulldogs, Bull Mastiffs, Boxers, Shih Tzus, Boston Terriers, Lhasa Apsos, Pekingese and Chinese Pugs.

As we have bred dogs to have shorter snouts overtime, 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 sometimes 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.

A young pug

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… sorry!

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!

old dog sleeping on sofa with owners

Sleep apnoea

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.

Allergies

If your pet hasn’t been tested for allergies, you might be surprised to learn there 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!

mixed-breed dog

Medications

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!

Dental Issues

If an abscessed tooth begins to obstruct the nasal sinus passage, this can cause snoring and infection throughout your pet’s body if left intreated. Make sure you are frequently examining your pet’s teeth to check for harmful diseases.

Secondhand Smoking

If you smoke like a chimney around your prized pooch, it can damage their respiratory system much like humans. This, in turn, leads to issues like bronchitis and snoring!

mixed-breed dog

Sleeping Position

If your little tyke 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. For example, it’s far more likely for dogs who sleep on their back to snore than those that lay on their front!

Aspergillosis

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!

When To Call The Vet

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 and so needs to be investigated by a veterinary professional.

Owners of brachycephalic dogs should always have their dog examined by a vet as soon as they come into their care, to 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.

But earplugs are available!