Imagine your adorable little furry friend emitting a terrifying combination of the most horrible dog snoring noises every time you try to sleep. Though these recurrences don’t seem to bother your pet, you can’t help but feel horrified every time those eyes close!
What you need to know and what can you do about dog snoring?
We’ve studied different options to reduce dog snoring and narrowed it down to the best options. You’ll find helpful reviews on each below with the pros and cons. If you already know what you need, here are the quick links to products:
- Diphenhydramine Capsules
- SnoreStop for Pets
- Lung Gold for Cats and Dogs
- Breathe Well Supplements for Dogs
- Throat Gold – Cough & Throat Soother
- PawHealer Trachea Support Dog Cough Remedy
- PetHonesty Allergy Relief Immunity Supplement for Dogs
- Essential Pet Allergy Support for Respiratory Health in Dogs
- Zesty Paws Allergy Immune Supplement for Dogs
- Silver Lining Herbs Respiratory Support
- BestLife4Pets Breathe Easy Respiratory Support for Dogs
Why is My Dog Snoring?
The answer lies in the way a dog breathes when sleeping, just like humans. Specifically, the movement of air through a dog’s throat or nasal passages might be somehow restricted. In most cases, these breathing difficulties are minor and little more than noise irritation.
Dogs snore specifically because the air they breathe isn’t able to pass through their upper respiratory tract as it should. Facial/skull mutations could be the cause (i.e. Pug, see below), allergic reactions to environmental allergens, obesity, or some type of throat/airway trauma might be your culprit.
Dr. Brendan McKiernan, a veterinary internist, and director of the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital is a known expert in small animal respiratory conditions. “It can be caused by a soft palate that is too long, excessively thick, relaxation of muscles in the back of the throat, obesity or edema (swelling) of these tissues (McKiernan).”
What Kinds of Dogs Snore?
Any dog can snore if his or her breathing is impaired even a little bit, but brachycephalic (i.e. short skull/head) breeds will snore most often. This includes Pugs, Boxers, Bulldogs, Chow Chows, Shih Tzus, Bullmastiffs, Lhasa Apsos, etc.
The anatomical mutations in these dogs, purely as a result of human interference in selective breeding, can make breathing difficult. “Brachycephalic animals typically have enlarged soft palates, overly narrowed nostrils, and everted laryngeal saccules, meaning that tissue in the airway is pulled into and obstructs the airway (McKiernan).”
Brachycephalic Dog Breeds
In medical terminology, brachycephalic (brachy=short, cephalic= relating to head) refers to dogs with a short skull (i.e. Pug, Chow Chow, Boxer, Bulldog). The decrease in skull length isn’t necessarily followed by an equal decrease in the size or length of soft tissues, meaning they are ‘squished together’ in a way. The soft palate becomes longer but narrower.
- English Bulldog
- Chow Chow
- Shih Tzu
- Lhasa Apso
- French Bulldog
The increased length of the soft palate is one of the main factors contributing to pharyngeal narrowing during normal respiratory activity in brachycephalic dogs (Pichetto). As a portion of a dog’s upper respiratory tract, the pharynx is responsible for directing air down toward the lungs.
Imagine you now have a longer but thinner passage for air (and food, pharynx serves both). The air these dogs breathe has to travel further, but has less room to do it. This doesn’t seem to serve any kind of environmental benefit to these dogs and was probably a product of human selective breeding and not natural selection.
There isn’t any easy cure for these dogs, since they were born with the anatomy they have. Brachycephalic dogs can have a lot of trouble breathing during intense physical activities, and these facial deformities are the main reasons why brachycephalic dogs will snore.
What Can You Do About Dog Snoring?
In most cases, there isn’t much we can do for our short-nosed friends other than to ensure a healthy weight and keep a stress-free environment. Brachycephalic breeds don’t tolerate heat well, so avoiding or limiting exposure to hotter temperatures is important.
If you can afford the cost, surgery might be an option for you. “Surgery can shorten an elongated soft palate, improve the dog’s comfort, and reduce these clinical signs (though loud snoring often remains even after surgery) (MSPCA).”
Brachycephalic Airway Obstructive Syndrome
Laryngeal collapse appears as one of the most threatening secondary effects of airway obstruction during the progression of BAOS (Caccamo). BAOS tends to affect brachycephalic breeds more often (hence the name) since they already have abnormal mutations in their upper respiratory system.
Your dog could encounter problems like the pooling of blood (edema), bronchial collapse or enlarged tonsils, etc. Snoring is a common symptom, in addition to coughing, retching, inability to exercise, etc.
What Can You Do?
It’s important to talk to your veterinarian if you think your pet has BAOS. The type of noise created is often called ‘pharyngeal noise, or stertor, and is usually easy to notice.
- Avoid stress and heat.
- Use a dog harness rather than a collar.
- Promote a healthy weight.
- Ensure good oral health.
- Limit physical activity or exercise.
- Be careful around water.
Respiratory noises such as snoring and snorting are indicators of airway obstruction (University of Cambridge). Since snoring is caused by a fault in the dog’s breathing, this can lead to various different sounds.
You can be left with the ‘pharyngeal noise’ described above under BAOS, ‘nasal/nasopharyngeal noise’ caused by things like a deviated septum or extra bony/ cartilage protrusions in the nose, and ‘reverse sneezing’ common in brachycephalic breeds.
If possible, it’s important to try and identify the cause of this obstruction, and ask your veterinarian if you can’t. Dog snoring is, unfortunately, sometimes a simple fact of life for brachycephalic breeds with their differing respiratory anatomy. On the other hand, you could be dealing with a larger issue!
Unlike humans, general allergic reactions usually manifest in a dog’s skin, causing a rash and leading to itching or biting. Dogs (wolves) probably evolved this response as a survival advantage, so they were less likely to eat something that would kill them.
Though very rare, some dogs have had anaphylactic reactions (shock) to allergens. The dog’s own antibodies react to the allergen, lowering the dog’s blood pressure and sending him into anaphylactic shock. This is treated in much the same way human anaphylaxis is, with epinephrine, but the first case sometimes means death.
Dogs can also react somewhere in the middle, slowly causing their airways to tighten. Since dog snoring is due to a restriction in airflow, this type of allergic reaction can easily lead to snoring.
What Can You Do?
Before you can begin to treat the condition, you’ll need to figure out what exactly your dog is allergic to. Once the root cause is determined, you can either remove the allergen, try any one of the products below, or ask your veterinarian about other possible treatments.
Overweight or Obese
Excess weight or obesity can lead to a buildup of excess fatty tissue in the throat, narrowing the passage for air when the dog tries to breathe. Since dog snoring is caused by abnormal breathing, this is a clear possibility.
An unhealthy weight can make this dog snoring problem even worse for brachycephalic breeds, who already have a thinner air passage.
What Can You Do?
Ensure an ideal weight through proper nutrition. Daily exercise should be light when it comes to brachycephalic breeds, but most others tolerate exercise well.
Try to avoid vegetarian or plant-based dog foods high in carbohydrates. These poor-quality or vegetarian diets often promote excess weight gain.
Severe smoke inhalation can cause burns or blisters to form, critically compromising your pet’s respiratory system. Dog snoring, in this case, would be the least of your worries.
But what about secondhand smoke? Thousands of dog owners smoke habitually around their pets without a second’s hesitation or thought. This couldn’t be any kind of a problem, right?
“Dogs exposed to second-hand smoke have more eye infections, allergies, and respiratory issues, including lung cancer. A study at Colorado State University demonstrated that dogs living in smoking environments also had an increased incidence of nasal cancer (Buzhardt).”
Those same respiratory issues, along with nasal cancer, would easily contribute to dog snoring. Where we can choose to leave a smoky area, dogs often can’t. Their lives also revolve around that nose and the ability to smell.
What Can You Do?
In the case of smoke-related burns, your dog will need medical attention. When it comes to tobacco, marijuana, or other types of inhaled smoke, the solution is very simple: stop smoking.
Why is my dog breathing hard in his sleep?
Rapid breathing is usually simply the result of brain activity during REM sleep or a dream. If this is the cause, your dog’s heavy breathing will slow when he wakes or the dream ends. Puppies also tend to have quicker respiratory rates than adults.
On the other hand, oxygen deprivation (i.e. dogs with anemia) can cause both heavy panting and snoring during sleep, in addition to any other kind of airway compromise.
What are the signs of respiratory distress in a dog?
The upper airway anatomy of a dog is very close to that of a human, making symptoms of respiratory distress also very similar. You might notice coughing or/and gagging, wheezing, exercise intolerance, obvious difficulty breathing, blue gums, and dizziness or lethargy.
- Exercise intolerance
- Blue/Cyanotic gums
- Loss of coordination
“If the brain suffers from lack of oxygen, the respiratory function may be reduced even further due to depression of nervous system activity (Kuehn).” Since the most important function of a dog’s respiratory system is to oxygenate red blood cells, thereby delivering that oxygen throughout the body’s tissues, that body will begin to suffer when it can’t get enough oxygen.
Severe or prolonged respiratory distress can cause the dog’s tissues to begin to die.
What Can You Do?
In cases of severe respiratory distress, you’ll need to bring your dog to see a veterinarian quickly.
Why does my dog sound like she’s snoring when breathing?
Noisy breathing during the act of inhaling is called ‘stertor’, a kind of lower-pitched snoring type of sound. This also occurs in humans, and usually results from vibrating fluid or an impaired larynx, again a result of an airway blockage. This is yet another airway compromise common in brachycephalic dog breeds.
Sounds that are higher pitched are caused by air passing rigid tissues, causing them to vibrate.
How to Stop Dog Snoring?
You’ll need to isolate the cause of your dog snoring before any kind of effective treatment can begin. Dog snoring is almost always just a symptom of the real problem.
What is causing your pet’s dog snoring problems? Why exactly isn’t your dog breathing normally at night, and what can you do to help stop your dog from snoring? Try changing your dog’s sleeping positions. For example, you can experiment with dog bunk beds.
You’ll see some products below that are meant to help soothe a dog’s irritated throat, suppress coughing (which can irritate the throat and cause snoring), help a dog sleep, or treat other direct problems. There are only a couple of products meant specifically to treat snoring since dog snoring isn’t the actual problem.
To stop a dog from snoring, you want to target the cause.
Dog Snoring Product Reviews
It might be hard at first, finding a product that can really help cure or relieve your dog’s snoring. Remember to try and treat the cause, not the symptoms! What is causing your dog’s snoring, and how will you best care for it? Which of the products below is best for you and your dog’s needs?
Diphenhydramine is the active ingredient in Benadryl. In most cases, it is the only ingredient in Benadryl. Benadryl may be more expensive simply because it is a brand name.
These will have minor sedation effects. The drug is often used to help with coughing or other minor airway irritations, minor allergic reactions, and it can help treat motion sickness. Owners will sometimes give it to dogs to help with car/travel anxiety or to simply help calm them.
Important: These are 50 mg. capsules. You don’t want to give your dog more than 1 mg. per pound of bodyweight. As with any medications designed for human use, not specifically dogs, contact your veterinarian first before using them!
Containing 20 chewable tablets, ‘Stop Snore’ contains only homeopathic ingredients meant to target inflamed soft tissues of the upper respiratory tract and nasal passages. By claiming to gently shrink inflamed tissues and dry up mucus blockages, StopSnore should help relieve your dog snoring problems.
SnoreStop is a homeopathic treatment, as opposed to a western medical approach.
Developed to support a dog’s immune responses to breathing disorders, Lung Gold is full of organically grown natural ingredients. Lung gold is also formulated to open airways, enhance oxygen uptake, treat coughing, and provide overall comfort to a dog in need!
Made with 100% natural ingredients, these drops come in the form of Calendula oil. Ingredients include Marshmallow Root, Mullein Leaf, Elderberry, Calendula, Angelica Root, and Orange Peel.
Not only is this made in the USA from all-natural ingredients, but Breath Well Supplements also have over a thousand positive reviews from satisfied pet owners!
Supporting both the dog’s throat and upper respiratory tract, Throat Gold offers natural, herbal support for chronic coughing in dogs. Not only does it soothe irritation from long-term coughing, snoring, and other breathing issues, Throat Gold is meant to maintain normal breathing as long as it’s used!
PawHealer Trachea Support is advertised as specifically beneficial for a ‘collapsed trachea’, a problem with many brachycephalic dogs. Offering support for a hacking or gagging type cough as well, PawHealer comes supplied in powder form.
PawHealer Trachea Support is a homeopathic treatment, as opposed to a western medical approach.
If your pet is plagued by allergies, give PetHonesty Allergy Relief a shot! PetHonesty combines healthy ingredients to offer support for healthy immune responses, improved digestion, seasonal allergies, and added detoxification.
With dogs, normally allergic reactions will manifest themselves in the form of dermatitis (skin inflammation), but can in some cases also affect the respiratory tract. If your dog snores and also happens to have allergies, you may have found the culprit you’ll need to treat.
Offering a powerful combination of beneficial antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, citrus bioflavonoids along with Quercetin help inhibit (slow) the normal release of antibodies that can be detrimental during an allergic response.
Omega 3 Wild Alaskan Fish Oil combines with both pre and probiotics (good bacteria) to help treat seasonal allergies. Available in chewable supplements your dog will love, these supplements also contain Colostrum, a very nutritious form of milk a mother gives to her puppies.
If your dog snoring problem is due to seasonal allergies, Zesty Paws is without a doubt a beneficial supplement for you to try.
It doesn’t just aid recovery after stressful or strenuous activity, but Silver Lining also combines top-quality herbs to relieve a dog’s body of outside toxins. Like many others here, this is a natural, homeopathic treatment and utilizes natural herbs to produce a soothing effect.
Herbs include a mixture of mullein, yerba santa, boswellia, burdock, ginger, ginkgo, Irish Moss, marshmallow, yarrow, and licorice.
As another all-natural, easy-to-administer treatment, This Breathe Easy Respiratory Support helps strengthen the trachea, loosens phlegm, clears congestion, supports the body’s natural healing process, and even treats bronchial inflammation!
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