Bulldog snoring while sleeping in bed

Why Your Dog Snores (and When & How to Stop It)

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Wondering why your dog snores? The slow rumble of a snoring dog sleeping nearby in bed may be an endearing noise to some dog owners, but to others, it may cost them precious hours of sleep and worrying that something is wrong. Snoring may be normal in some dogs, but there are some instances that should give a dog owner reason for concern.

What is Snoring?

Snoring is a noise that occurs when air flows past relaxed tissue in the throat while breathing when asleep. It is the vibration from the movement of the relaxed tissue and the pressure of the breath that causes the sound we know as snoring.1

Why do Dogs Snore?

Short-nosed dog sleeping in dog bed

For some dogs, snoring could be due to an anatomic variation in the throat that may be considered normal or at least not detrimental to the dog’s health.2 Sometimes snoring is related to the sleep position, abnormal anatomy causing harm, disease, infection, or some other medical issue.3 Here are some common causes of snoring in dogs.

Obesity

Excess weight can cause snoring or exacerbate breathing problems in dogs that already experience snoring or trouble breathing. Excess fatty tissue around the throat can put pressure on the throat or can cause partial obstructions that lead to snoring when the pup is relaxed or sleeping.4

Conformation and Anatomy

Variations in a dog’s anatomy can cause snoring. This is particularly true in brachycephalic breeds (we will go into more detail about these breeds below) that have shorter, squished, and smaller noses and airways. Some dogs, brachycephalic breeds in particular, also have excess tissue in the soft palate which can causes snoring.5

Allergies

Any dog can suffer from allergies, similarly to people. When there is dust, dirt, pollens, sprays, and other allergens in the environment, it can cause swelling of the airways and snoring.6

Infections

Upper respiratory infections due to viral or bacterial colds can cause swelling and inflammation of the upper respiratory tract such as the sinuses, nasal passages, and throat. This congestion, swelling, inflammation, and discharge can all lead to problems such as snoring or other breathing difficulties.7

Nasal Foreign Body

There are different objects that can cause a full or partial obstruction inside the nose or in the throat that can cause snoring. Some of the most common things that cause obstructions in dogs include benign masses or polyps, cancerous tumors, small pieces of material such as sticks, grass awns, pieces of toys or chews, or other foreign material. When something is stuck in the airway, not only does it cause an obstruction, but it can also lead to infection and inflammation of the surrounding tissue, any of which can cause snoring or breathing difficulty.8

Sleep Position

Any time a dog is sleeping, they could snore due to simply being relaxed. While sleeping, a dog may be in a position that may make him or her more prone to snoring. This is especially true when a dog sleeps on their back. Dogs that sleep with their necks kinked, laying their heads on something in an awkward (yet apparently comfortable) position, or head hanging down off of the bed, all can contribute to snoring.9

Fungal

In some parts of the country, there are certain fungal infections that have a prevalence of infection in the nose and airway. Some of these fungal diseases cause small masses, inflammation, or irritation and can lead to snoring. Aspergillosis is the most common nasal fungal infection seen in dogs.10 It is caused by the Aspergillus fungus and causes mold that can be breathed in.

Secondhand Smoke

Smoking is not only dangerous in people, but many forget that it can affect their furry companions just as badly. Smoke can cause inflammation in the respiratory tract leading to bronchitis, respiration irritation, asthma, and can contribute to snoring.1112

Relaxation

Your dog may be most prone to snoring when they have had a really exciting and active day and are simply worn out. When they fall asleep, they have such a deep and relaxing snooze that they snore.

Medications

Some medications such as muscle relaxants, sedatives, and pain medications can lead to excessive tissue relaxation and can cause snoring.13

When Should I be Worried About My Dog Snoring?

Dog sleeping in dog bed laying on back

If your dog doesn’t typically snore and suddenly starts snoring, you may want to take a trip to see your veterinarian to make sure there are no concerning reasons for this. You should especially be concerned if your dog starts snoring in addition to acting sick and showing other signs of abnormalities such as difficulty breathing, coughing, nasal discharge, lethargy, inappetence, or other changes in behavior. If your dog snores and you can find a reasonable cause such as excessive sleepiness or sleeping in a position that could lead to snoring, you have less reason to be concerned.

Dog Breeds Most Prone to Snoring

Any dog can be heard snoring, but brachycephalic breeds are the most common breeds known to snore. Brachycephalic breeds are those that are bred to have short noses and muzzles.14 Some examples include:

  • English Bulldogs
  • French Bulldogs
  • Boston Terriers
  • Pugs
  • Boxers
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
  • Shih Tzus
  • Mastiffs
  • Pekingese
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Brussels Griffon, Japanese Chin

These breeds are prone to brachycephalic syndrome which includes syndromes such as an elongated soft palate, stenotic nares, and everted laryngeal saccules.15 Any of these conditions can exacerbate or cause snoring.

How to Stop or Help a Snoring Dog

If your dog snores and you are concerned, there are some things you can do to help. You may not be able to stop the snoring, and in reality, it may not be something you need to stop. However, in some cases, snoring can be concerning, and a worried dog owner can do some things to help if needed.

See Your Vet

A trip to see your veterinarian should be the first thing you do if you are concerned about your snoring dog. Your vet will partner with you in the best interest of you and your dog to make sure he or she is in the best of health. They will make recommendations about additional diagnostics or tests that need to be performed, medications to give, or procedures that may need to be done.

Weight Loss

An exercise program and diet change are two things that a dog owner can easily do at home to help an overweight dog. More than half of adult dogs in the United States are overweight, according to the American Animal Hospital Association.16 It is still important to work closely with your veterinarian to develop an appropriate weight loss program for your dog.

Allergy Medications

If your vet thinks that allergies are the cause of your dog’s snoring, he or she may prescribe an allergy medication to help relieve allergy symptoms.

Change Position

If your dog is snoring and you notice that he or she is sleeping in an abnormal or uncomfortable position, you can try gently changing their sleep position to see if that helps the snoring. Providing a high-quality dog bed that allows your dog to sleep comfortably can help. Waterproof dog beds are a good solution for dogs who drool or sometimes have accidents while sleeping.

Clean Air

To help reduce environmental allergens and irritants that can be breathed in and possibly cause snoring, you should reduce artificial fragrances and sprays, stop using harsh chemicals around your dog, and keep your dog away from secondhand smoke. It can also be helpful to add air purifiers and change furnace filters regularly.

Snoring may not be something you have to be worried about in your dog, but it is important to seek veterinary attention if you think your dog may be sick or suffering from brachycephalic syndrome.

Article Sources

Pet News Daily uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Mayo Clinic. Snoring. Mayoclinic.org. Accessed March 16, 2021.
  2. Williams K, Yuill C. Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome in Dogs. Vcahospitals.com. Accessed March 16, 2021.
  3. Milford Veterinary Hospital. Snoring in Pets. Milfordveterinaryhospital.com. Accessed March 16, 2021.
  4. Whitworth Animal Clinic. Dog Snoring. Whitworthpetvet.com. Accessed March 16, 2021.
  5. Williams K, Yuill C. Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome in Dogs. Vcahospitals.com. Accessed March 16, 2021.
  6. Berry K. Sleep Apnea in You and Your Pet: Don’t Let Snoring Dogs Lie. Tmjtherapyandsleepcenter.com. Published November 21 ,2019. Accessed March 16, 2021.
  7. Rozanski E. Breed-Specific Respiratory Disease In Dogs: From Bulldogs To Terriers. Todaysveterinarypractice.com. Accessed March 16, 2021.
  8. Milford Veterinary Hospital. Snoring in Pets. Milfordveterinaryhospital.com. Accessed March 16, 2021.
  9. Milford Veterinary Hospital. Snoring in Pets. Milfordveterinaryhospital.com. Accessed March 16, 2021.
  10. Williams K, Ward E. Aspergillosis in Dogs. Vcahospitals.com. Accessed March 16, 2021.
  11. Roza MR, Viegas CA. The dog as a passive smoker: effects of exposure to environmental cigarette smoke on domestic dogs. Nicotine Tob Res. 2007;9(11):1171-1176. doi:10.1080/14622200701648391
  12. FDA. Be Smoke-free and Help Your Pets Live Longer, Healthier Lives. Fda.org. Updated October 17, 2017. Accessed March 17, 2021.
  13. Whitworth Animal Clinic. Dog Snoring. Whitworthpetvet.com. Accessed March 16, 2021.
  14. HSVMA. Health and Welfare Issues Associated with Brachycephalic Dog Breeds. Hsvma.org. Accessed March 17, 2021.
  15. ACVS. Brachycephalic Syndrome. Acvs.org. Accessed March 17, 2021.
  16. McReynolds T. Pet obesity is an epidemic. Aaha.org. Published February 6, 2020. Accessed March 17, 2021.
Dr. Amanda Jondle
Dr. Amanda Jondle, DVM practices small animal medicine, surgery, and integrative medicine. She is a graduate of Iowa State University Veterinary School.