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What Snoring Says About Your Dog’s Health
By Kim Boatman
Does your dog’s snoring keep you up at night? “We seem to put up with
dog snoring more than spouse snoring,” says Dr. Bernadine Cruz, a Laguna
Hills, Calif., veterinarian and nationally recognized expert in companion animal
Your dog’s snoring, however, is more than an annoyance; it may be an
indication of a wide range of health problems. “Any time a dog develops a
new sign, such as snoring, it is a good idea to at least check in with your
veterinarian,” notes Dr. Lauren Boyd, a veterinarian and an internal medicine
specialist with Michigan Veterinary Specialists in Auburn Hills, Mich. “Any
change could indicate a new problem. If it’s not a new problem but is
progressing, your dog should also see a veterinarian.”
Why Dogs Snore
Any level of snoring indicates something is at last partially obstructing your dog’s airways. Veterinarians say
common causes include:
Rhinitis Your dog might have a temporary inflammation in its nose. Dogs can catch upper respiratory
infections or even suffer from allergies.
Fungal disease Aspergillosis is a type of fungal disease caused by a mold found in hay, grass clippings
and similar environments. Left untreated, this fungal disease can cause discomfort, loss of appetite and
serious health problems.
Foreign bodies or tumors Your dog could have inhaled something that is blocking its breathing. Snoring
could also indicate a tumor, says Boyd.
Dental problems Bad teeth can cause your dog to snore, says Cruz. A bad tooth can lead to an abscess
that penetrates the nasal sinus passages. Left untreated, dental problems can become a source of
infection for the whole body, advises Cruz, which could lead to kidney failure down the road.
Obesity Like humans, our dogs are getting plumper. And just as obesity can lead to snoring in humans, it
may cause breathing difficulties in dogs. “As your dog breathes in and out, obesity makes the trachea rings
slam shut,” explains Cruz.
Breed-related anatomy Brachycephalic breeds -- the breeds with very short noses, such as
English/French bulldogs, Boston terriers and pugs -- have a natural tendency to snore. But it’s a good idea
to check with your veterinarian to make sure the snoring is normal and not an indication of a health issue,
says Cruz. For instance, a pug or Boston terrier might be born with nostrils that are squeezed almost shut.
After surgical correction, “the dogs have so much energy. They’re running around and finally breathing,”
How to Help Your Dog
Because snoring can be related to so many different causes, Boyd and Cruz emphasize the importance of
having your snoring dog evaluated. You can help your veterinarian by being an observant dog owner.
Keep a pet diary to note changes in your dog’s behavior and health so a veterinarian can look for patterns.
For example, if your dog was snoring and sneezing last May and again this May, it might have an allergy
tied to spring blooms.
Use your smartphone to videotape your snoring dog instead of trying to describe the snores. The volume
or pattern of snoring isn’t the only information that will help your veterinarian, says Boyd. “It is often
helpful to know if the snoring is accompanied by sneezing, nasal discharge or nasal bleeding,” she says. “It
is also helpful to know if the discharge or bleeding affects both sides of the nose or just one.” If the nasal
discharge is watery, your dog is likely suffering from an allergy or something similar, says Cruz. A mucous-
laden or bloody discharge is an indication that your dog needs to see a veterinarian immediately.
Don’t simply tolerate your dog’s snoring. “It can really decrease your dog’s quantity of life and your dog’s
quality of life,” says Cruz. “If you’ve ever had that really bad cold and can’t breathe and can’t eat, then
you know how hard it is to live with a breathing problem.”
Kim Boatman is a journalist based in Northern California. She is also the managing editor of
ExceptionalCanine.com. Herwork has appeared in The Miami Herald, the Detroit Free Press and the San
Jose Mercury News. She is a lifelong lover of animals, and a frequent contributor to The Dog Daily.