Why Your Dog Sounds Congested When Sleeping & What Can You Do To Help?

Adopting a pet dog is a huge responsibility. Beyond the cute cuddles and snuggles, you have to take on the role of your dog’s primary caregiver. This involves paying attention to various aspects of their health, including diet and exercise. Moreover, you need to always keep an eye out for underlying medical conditions.

If your dog sounds congested when sleeping, it might indicate something as complicated as an oral abscess or tumor. While snoring is pretty common in dogs, it could also be the symptom of a more serious disorder. Moreover, loud snoring could hamper your dog’s sleep and in turn, make them groggy in the morning.

However, there is no reason to panic just yet. In this blog, we have outlined all possible reasons your dog is snoring in its sleep and whether it is harmful at all. We will also take a look at what you can do to relieve your dog’s snoring and improving their quality of life. Let us get started.

Should You Be Concerned If Your Dog Sounds Congested When Sleeping?

Well, there isn’t a straightforward way to answer this question. This is because there are various reasons behind it. For instance, some dog breeds are anatomically predisposed to snoring. Likewise, laying in odd and uncomfortable positions could be the reason why your dog sounds congested when sleeping.

In most cases, a dog’s snoring is going to be a harmless and transient phase in their life. However, if it persists or gets worse, then it’s time to get alarmed. Also, if it slowly causes your dog to gasp for breath in its sleep, you shouldn’t ignore it.

Thus, if you start noticing the obvious signs in your dog, it is best to closely monitor their breathing and napping habits. Also, you need to possess a deep understanding of the possible causes that could cause your dog to snore.

In the following sections, we will take a closer look at all snore-causing factors and nasal congestion in dogs.

Possible Reasons Why Your Dog Sounds Congested When Sleeping

First things first – your dog is likely snoring due to something blocking their airways. From foreign objects lodged in the nostrils to tumors pressing against the throat – there could be various reasons behind a constricted airway.

However, you don’t have to start panicking every time your dog snores in their sleep. If you are a new dog parent, thorough knowledge of the various reasons that cause dogs to snore will come in handy. Let us take a look at several factors which are a potential reason for snoring and congestion in dogs.

1. Anatomy & Age

Brachycephalic dog breeds, such as Bulldogs, Pugs, Shih Tzus, Pekingese, Boston Terriers, etc. are more likely to snore. This is because such dogs have smaller nostrils and shorter airways. It means they have to work extra hard to breathe in their sleep.

Dog Congested When Sleeping

If your dog belongs to any of these short-muzzled breeds or has a tiny snout, it is normal for them to sound congested when sleeping. However, if there is a sudden onset of snoring or abnormal breathing, consulting a veterinarian is recommended.

This anatomical structure can also cause other problems for some breeds. For example, male French Bulldogs can not mate naturally, because they can’t breathe properly and control their temperature during the deed.

Another thing to mention is that older dogs are more prone to snore while sleeping. This mostly occurs due to the weakening of nerves in the airways. While the condition is often harmless, it could also indicate the onset of laryngeal paralysis. So, if the snoring interferes with your dog’s sleep and breathing, you should consider immediately seeing the vet.

2. Obesity

Have you noticed how obese people tend to snore while sleeping? It happens because the extra fat accumulates in their throat and blocks the airways. The same is true for your four-legged friend. 

3. Poor Dental Hygiene

Broken teeth, tongue abscesses, and oral tumors could all constrict your dog’s airways and cause them to snore. Worse still, a dental infection case cause abscesses in the nasal passage and make it swell. This, in turn, blocks the airflow and causes breathing problems.

4. Medication

Medicines, such as tranquilizers and painkillers, can relax your dog’s muscles so much that they start pressing against the airways. This, in turn, results in snoring. However, this type of snoring is harmless and often subsides once you stop the medication.

5. Sleeping Position

Dogs who sleep on their backs are more likely to snore than dogs sleeping sideways or on their stomachs. Corgis are often found sleeping on their backs, but other dog breeds can also do this.

6. Obstruction

Foreign objects, such as grass, dirt, or tiny toy part can get stuck in your dog’s nasal passage and make it difficult for them to breathe. This can also happen if a dog eats uncooked rice or something similar. If left untreated, this could lead to serious complications, including choking and infection.

7. Allergies

Just like you, your canine companion is susceptible to seasonal allergies caused by pollen, dust, and other factors. Needless to say, any allergy can disrupt normal airflow in the nasal passage, thereby causing your dog to snore.

8. Cold

Yes. It is possible for dogs to get a cold, just like we do. It often leads to inflammation of the mucus membrane in the airways and results in snoring. However, this condition is typically accompanied by other symptoms, such as:

  • Nasal discharge
  • Heavy breathing
  • Sneezing
  • Panting

9. Underlying Medical Disorders

Fungal infections, such as aspergillosis, can cause inflammation and swelling of the airways. Likewise, an enlargement of the thyroid gland can block normal airflow, leading to snoring. Also, tumors and polyps growing in your dog’s mouth or throat can lead to distressed or congested breathing.

10. Secondhand Smoke

If you smoke a cigarette, you aren’t just destroying your lungs. Inhaling secondhand cigarette smoke can cause irreversible damage to your dog’s respiratory organs. Also, it causes inflammation of the airways and leads to snoring.

What to Do If Your Dog Sounds Congested When Sleeping?

So far, we have discussed the potential causes of congested breathing and snoring in dogs. As a dog parent, it is only natural that you would get alarmed when your dog starts snoring. This can be particularly concerning if your dog used to be quiet in their sleep before.

However, before you start making anxious calls to your vet, here are a few things you should do:

Rule Out the Obvious

The first thing you should consider is whether your dog’s body type and weight are making them susceptible to snoring. If they are short-muzzled, it is natural for them to snore while sleeping. Likewise, if they have recently gained weight, they might start sounding congested in sleep.

Next, you should carefully analyze whether you have recently started administering any muscle relaxants or tranquilizers. Also, you should assess your dog’s sleeping position to determine whether they tend to snore when sleeping in a particular posture.

Lastly, you need to consider whether your dog’s snoring gets worse during particular seasons. For instance, if your dog tends to snore louder in summer, it could indicate that they are allergic to pollen.

Find the Root Cause

If snoring is atypical for your canine friend, you need to dig deeper and find out what is causing it. Take your dog for a dental checkup to rule out any dental or oral issues. Likewise, watch your dog’s body weight, diet, and medication to find the possible cause. 

Consult Your Vet

If you are unable to find the exact cause of the congestion, getting your furry friend to the vet might be a good idea. This is particularly crucial considering that snoring could be an indicator of a more serious medical condition, such as hypothyroidism, cancer, dental infection, and aspergillosis.

While there isn’t a right moment to pay a visit to the vet, you should immediately book an appointment if:

  • Your dog is panting or breathing heavily
  • Your dog starts gasping for air in their sleep
  • Your dog has trouble swallowing
  • There is a sudden change in your dog’s breathing pattern

The vet will help find the reason for the underlying cause of the pathological breathing. Depending on the exact cause, they will suggest a treatment plan, which could involve diet and lifestyle modifications, as well as medication.

Conclusion: Frequently Asked Questions

To wrap things up, we will discuss a few common questions related to congested breathing and snoring that bother most dog parents.

1. Can Dogs Get Sleep Apnea?

Yes. Although very rare, it is still possible for dogs to have sleep apnea. If your dog suddenly stops breathing in its sleep and abruptly wakes up gasping for air, chances are they have sleep apnea. If left untreated, it could cause fatal complications.

2. Is Snoring Common in Dogs?

Snoring is more common in dogs than you’d imagine. Typically, it is caused due to an obstruction in the dog’s nasal passage and/or airways. If you notice that your dog has suddenly developed the habit of snoring, you should immediately book an appointment with your vet.

3. What Caused Dogs to Sound Congested When Sleeping?

Snoring and congested breathing in dogs can be a result of a plethora of factors, including seasonal allergies, obesity, rhinitis, and fungal infections. It could also be caused by underlying medical conditions, such as tumors, hypothyroidism, and poor dental hygiene. However, short-muzzled dog breeds are predisposed to snoring because of smaller nostrils and airways.

What techniques have you used to help relieve your dog’s snoring? Share your tips in the comments section below.

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