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dog parent basics

Why does my dog snore? Here’s what to know

Is Fido waking you up in the middle of the night with their snoring? Find out why dogs snore and how to prevent it.

Updated September 14, 2021

Created By

Jared Wilder,

The essentials

  • Snoring’s normal If your dog is snoring, there’s no reason to be worried. However, if they seem lethargic, sick, or the snoring gets progressively worse, it might be linked to a health issue.
  • Sleep apnea is caused by snoring Though snoring has its own causes, constant snoring can lead to sleep apnea, a condition in which a dog isn’t getting enough oxygen while they sleep.
  • Snoring is often fixable If your dog is a snorer, there are ways to help them with a few steps at home. Sometimes, all it takes is a new dog bed, other times a visit to the vet is needed.

Why do dogs snore?

Dogs snore for the same reason as humans — because the airflow in their nose or throat is blocked. Tissue or blockages may cause their airflow to stop and start rapidly, making your pup snore. The noise sounds a lot like drinking through a straw in a nearly empty glass.

Snoring is normal in dogs. However, it can be a symptom of health issues that pet owners like yourself should be aware of. Sleep apnea is perhaps the most familiar of these, and it’s defined by a lack of proper oxygen while sleeping. A key sign of sleep apnea in most pets and humans is snoring, but the causes of snoring itself are varied.

What makes the snoring sound?

The sound comes from the nasal cavity or nasopharynx, the area connecting the nasal cavity to the back of the throat. When something’s blocking a dog’s airway, even if it’s just the angle that they’re sleeping, the air forces its way through, vibrating the nasal cavity and producing the snoring sound.

The solution to snoring is to make sure your dog’s airways are open and have no blockages or constrictions. If you can help your dog open up their airways, the snoring will subside. It’s important to detect the reason why your dog is snoring — treatment depends on what’s causing the snores.

Common causes of canine snoring

  • Obesity. Overweight dogs are often chronic snorers. Extra fat could compress their airways and ribcage.
  • Sleep position: Some dogs sleep in positions that naturally constrict their airways, causing them to snore until they roll over or adjust.
  • Allergies. If pollen, hay, mold, or dust bothers you, it could be affecting your dog too. Your pup may be suffering from seasonal allergies.
  • Pollution. Air pollution can irritate your dog’s respiratory system, just like yours.
  • Blockage. Your pup may have inhaled something that’s blocking their airway.
  • Infection. If your dog has an infection, their airways may be inflamed, leading to snores.
  • Cold. If your dog has a runny nose and is sneezing, the mucus and phlegm in their system might be restricting their airways.
  • Sleep apnea. Loud snoring is often a common sign of sleep apnea.
  • Dental issues, rhinitis, and fungal disease. Bad teeth can lead to abscesses. These grow inside the nasal passage and can cause swelling or obstruction.
  • Smoke and Irritants. Second-hand smoke, perfumes, and even air fresheners may be bothering your dog’s respiratory system.
  • Medications. Muscle relaxers or medications that cause drowsiness may cause your dog’s muscles to relax and constrict their airway.
  • Polyps. These may form on or near your dog’s airways.

Dog breeds that are naturally prone to snoring

Short-nosed (brachycephalic) breeds are far more likely to snore than others. Their snouts are shorter, and some have lots of skin bunched up at the front of their faces. While cute, these brachycephalic breeds are much more likely to be natural snorers:

If your dog is a natural snorer (their snoring has no other cause), you shouldn’t worry about stopping it. Besides, you probably can’t get them to stop snoring, because it’s just a part of who they are!

👉 If your pup’s snoring is keeping you up during the night, consider letting them sleep in another room of the house.

Can snoring be unhealthy or a sign of health problems?

Sleep apnea is the most common health problem connected to snoring, but pet parents should avoid jumping to this conclusion too early. If your dog begins snoring suddenly (especially if they’ve never snored before), if it gets progressively worse, or if they have nasal discharge, then you should contact your veterinarian.

What to know about sleep apnea in dogs

When a dog is snoring constantly, the first thing that most pet parents think of is sleep apnea. Sleep apnea affects more than 20% of male dogs and 10% of female dogs. If left untreated, sleep apnea can have negative effects on your dog’s mood, and psychological and cardiovascular health.

Sleep apnea is a serious condition that happens when a dog isn’t getting enough oxygen while they sleep. This leads to grogginess, irritability, and a lack of focus in the morning. Over time, sleep apnea contributes to a lower quality of life and other health issues. In fact, hypertension can be caused or aggravated by sleep apnea, because your dog’s body isn’t getting the proper rest it needs.

Snoring and obesity are the leading causes of sleep apnea. If your snoring dog is overweight, you need to be on the lookout for this condition. Not every dog that snores has sleep apnea, but any dog that has sleep apnea almost certainly snores.

🚨 If you’re concerned about your dog’s snoring, it’s important to take them to the vet so that they can be examined.

Treatment for dogs with sleep apnea

Humans have many more treatment options than dogs do when it comes to sleep apnea. Whereas humans can use continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines to alleviate their symptoms, there’s no such treatment for dogs. Some companies sell CPAP masks that fit dogs, but there’s no conclusive research backing these products.

The best treatment for a dog with chronic sleep apnea is exercise and weight loss. Because obesity is one of the leading causes of sleep apnea, losing weight is one of the most effective ways to treat it. Talk with your vet about safe ways to help your dog be more active, as well as how a dietary change can help them slim down.

Tips to help your pup stop snoring 

Whether you’re missing out on some much-needed rest or want to help your dog sleep better at night, here are some ways to prevent your dog’s snores.

Get your dog a comfortable bed — Large dog beds promote a more natural sleeping position and can help your dog’s airways stay open. Our favorite option is the PetFusion Ultimate Dog Bed made of ultra-comfy memory foam.

Try an air humidifier — Make sure the air in your home has between a 30-50% humidity level. This can go a long way toward reducing irritation in your dog’s respiratory system.

Use a pillow to prop their head — Similar to a round bed, this promotes a healthier sleeping position.

Switch up the room they sleep in — Sometimes, the irritants in the air are localized to one room in the house. Switching rooms can clear the problem right up!

Change out your home air filter — It’s important to reduce allergens and dust in the air. Make sure you’re changing the air filters in your home every month to help you and your dog sleep better.

Over-the-counter meds may help — If your dog has seasonal allergies, give them Benadryl or Claritin to help them fight the allergies as they sleep.

👉 Always check with your veterinarian before giving any OTC medicines for snoring.