Forget snoring humans—snoring pups can be LOUD. And while certainly endearing, those maximum volumes snuffles can be more than a little annoying: Sometimes it can point to larger health issues. Snoring technically means there’s something obstructing your dog's airways, so although it may be harmless, you should always keep one ear up for abnormalities. We talked with Dr. Ann Hohenhaus, DVM, staff doctor at NYC’s Animal Medical Center, about the reasons behind your pup’s noisy habit.
There’s usually no need to be concerned if your pup ….
… has a short snout Breeds with flat or short faces are pretty much fated for the #snoringstruggle. They’re called “brachycephalic” which basically means they have a shorter snout than average, and they’re prone to breathing complications. Breeds such as Pugs, Chihuahuas, Shih tzus, and Chow Chows all fall into this category and could potentially snore for their whole life without any serious health consequences. However, Dr. Hohenhaus warns these dogs can often face breathing issues that could prevent them from getting enough oxygen, which is usually corrected with surgery. If you have a brachycephalic pup, your vet will be able to tell you if there are larger problems at hand or if everything is running smoothly.
… has allergies or a cold Does your pup only snore in the summer? They’re probably suffering from seasonal allergies—just like us. The allergy can cause him to produce extra mucus, which could be the culprit. If your pup is allergic to dust, pollen, or other physical allergens, Dr. Hohenhaus recommends generally keeping your pup inside with AC, and when they do go out, washing their face and paws whenever they come inside. If your pup has been sneezing, congested, and has watery eyes, he might have a cold which similarly could be causing the snoring. If your dog is still acting generally normal (eating, drinking, playing) then it doesn’t necessarily call for a trip to the vet, but if their symptoms persist or get worse it’s best to have him checked out.
… sleeps on his back Just like us humans, the way your dog sleeps could be restricting his airways and causing the snoring. An easy fix for this is physically moving your pup, laying him down on his side instead of his back. You could also try buying a small pillow for your pup to prop his head on when he sleeps or a bed with one built in, making it less likely he’ll roll over to his back.
You might want to check with a vet if your pup…
… has never snored before and just started You know your pup’s “normal” better than anyone, and you’ll notice if he goes from silent sleeper to sawing logs. “If your dog has never snored before in its life, that indicates there’s a mass somewhere obstructing their breathing; either in their nose, voice box, windpipe, somewhere in their respiratory system,” Dr. Hohenhaus explains. This mass could be anything from an enlarged lymph node to a foreign object stuck in the airway, “So this would be a case where it’s better to see the vet right away instead of waiting too long,” she recommends.
… might be overweight Although this is another health issue in itself, obesity may be the cause of your pup’s snoring at night. “Basically if a dog is overweight, extra fat is constraining their airways, so snoring is very common,” Dr. Hohenhaus said. Being at a healthy weight is important for a slew of reasons, so start with a healthy diet with some exercise, and you’ll eventually be able to enjoy some peace and quiet.
… lives with a smoker Smoking in the same household as your pup causes respiratory damage and can lead to issues like bronchitis and asthma. To keep your pup (and you!) safe and healthy, it should be avoided at all costs. If this is the cause of your dog’s snoring, and you’ve checked with your vet that no permanent damage has been done already, keeping the house a smoke-free zone should stop the snoring ASAP.
… might have got something caught in his nose lately Has your pup been digging holes with abandon? What about gulping down water? Yup. Any time your pup is sticking his nose places something could end up getting stuck in there. If the snoring is caused by a temporary obstruction, it should just stop in a few days. If it doesn’t, a trip to the vet is your best bet. “I had a dog come in one time with green nasal discharge and an airway blockage, then a CAT scan showed part of a Christmas tree had gotten stuck up his nose,” Dr. Hohenhaus said. If snoring persists unexplained, you don’t want to risk ignoring it because there's a chance it’s a tumor or cyst. “If a dog’s nasal discharge is ever green or bloody this could signal an infection or blockage that should be seen by a vet,” explains Dr. Hohenhaus. The earlier these issues are found, the better for your pup’s well-being.