What Snoring Says About Your Dog’s Health
Is It Normal For My Dog to Snore?
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 health.
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 Does My Dog Snore All Of A Sudden?
Any level of snoring indicates something is at least partially obstructing your dog’s airways. Veterinarians say common causes include:
Your dog might have a temporary inflammation in its nose. Dogs can catch upper respiratory infections or even suffer from allergies.
Aspergillosis is a fungal disease caused by 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.
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.
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.
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,” says Cruz.
How Do I Get My Dog to Stop Snoring?
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 will likely suffer 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 decrease your dog’s quantity of life and your dog’s quality of life,” says Cruz. “If you’ve ever had that nasty cold and can’t breathe and can’t eat, then you know how hard it is to live with a breathing problem.”
Why Is My Dog Misbehaving All of a Sudden?
The Chappell family was puzzled: Why was their house-trained mixed Poodle, Molly, now wetting her bed during the night? Ten-year-old Molly had never done this before, making it seem like the once well-mannered dog suddenly decided to misbehave.
Is My Dog Naughty?
“We couldn’t understand why Molly forgot her house-training,” recalls Stan Chappell, who lives in Vienna, Va. “It was frustrating, especially for my wife, who ended up having to launder Molly’s wet bedding every morning.”
What the Chappells didn’t realize was that Molly’s bed-wetting wasn’t a house-training issue at all. “Many cases of behavioral problems have a medical origin,” says Dr. Andrew Luescher, a veterinary behaviorist and director of Purdue University’s Animal Behavior Clinic in West Lafayette, Ind.
Some Common Apparent Dog Behavioral Problems and Their Possible Medical Causes:
Can Medical Conditions Cause a Dog to Be Aggressive?
Pain or discomfort can prompt a dog to become grumpy toward people or other pets. For example, an older dog that develops arthritis may snap when touched in a newly-painful area. “This happens in people too; you’re much more likely to snap at your spouse or co-worker if you have a headache or feel crummy,” points out Dr. Karen Sueda, a veterinary behaviorist who practices at West Los Angeles Animal Hospital.
Pain isn’t the only physical trigger of aggression. Experts also cite seizures, low thyroid production levels, brain tumors, and liver disease as possible causes of aggression. Another reason for aggressive behavior could be the loss of sight or hearing. For example, a dog that becomes deaf may snap or bite if surprised by a person or animal approaching it from behind.
For more information regarding health related behavioral problems see our article ‘Behavior Problems as a Symptom of Illness in Dogs‘
Compulsive Behavior in Dogs
A dog whose behavior appears to be compulsive and/or harmful, such as excessive licking one spot, biting their fur or other forms of self-mutilation, or constant head shaking, may merely be trying to deal with discomfort, whether on the skin or in the ears. “Many of the behaviors that are directed to the self…are due to dermatological disease,” notes Dr. Luescher. “And repetitive behavior may be caused by neurological disease.”
Why Is My Dog Suddenly Having Accidents in the House?
“Of all the cases that I see, house-soiling is probably the most common problem that has a primary medical origin,” says Dr. Sueda. Endocrine [hormonal] and kidney disease may increase a dog’s need to eliminate. Additionally, older dogs that develop arthritis or spinal cord disease may suddenly find it more difficult to use stairs or the dog door to go outside and eliminate.
Other causes of house soiling can be as simple as a urinary tract infection or as complicated as an older dog developing a condition called canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome, which is very similar to Alzheimer’s disease in humans.
Because behavior problems, particularly behavioral changes in dogs, often have physical causes, it’s essential for any pet exhibiting unwanted behavior to be examined by a veterinarian, says Dr. Sueda. Generally, if the grounds of the behavior are eliminated, the behavior itself will cease.
That’s what happened with the Chappells’ bed-wetting dog. When the behavior persisted, the family took Molly to her veterinarian for an examination. The veterinarian explained that as spayed female dogs like Molly grow older, they lose estrogen. The lower estrogen supply then leads to a loss of muscle tone in these dogs’ urinary tracts. The result, all too often, is that such dogs wet their beds during the night.
Molly’s veterinarian prescribed a short course of a synthetic hormone called diethylstilbestrol (DES) to replace her lost estrogen. The medicine did the trick. Chappell reports, “After that, Molly never wet her bed again.” In this case, as for many others, the good dog seemingly gone bad was just a sick puppy needing appropriate medical treatment.
If you would like to read further on illness symptoms in your dog, check out our article ‘How Do I Know if My Dog is Unwell?‘