Friday, October 1, 2010

What Causes a Dog to Snore?

By Ruthie Bently

Do you live with a snorer? No, I’m not talking about the two legged variety that may live with you, but that adorable four-legged furry version. Did you know that an estimated 21% of all dogs snore? (By contrast, only 7% of our feline friends snore). Since many of us have at some time let our dogs sleep with us, we’ve had to deal with this snoring problem or banish them from our bedroom. What causes a dog to snore – and how do you stop it?

There are several reasons that might cause your dog to snore, including environmental and physical. Some dogs are born with excess tissue around their neck and throat; this tissue can interfere with a dog’s breathing under certain circumstances. If your dog is overweight, they may also be carrying extra skin and body tissue around their neck. This extra body weight can cause the upper airway to close. Congestion in a dog’s nasal passages can also cause snoring.

Congestion can be caused by allergies, a cold, pneumonia, or environmental factors like secondhand smoke or smog. Even household cleaners and air fresheners may cause allergies. Secondhand smoke is an irritant to a dog’s respiratory system and can lead to snoring problems. If your dog has or is prone to allergies, some allergens can cause the air passages to narrow, which results in snoring. Anything that causes a dog’s airway to constrict or can obstruct it can lead to snoring.

Some breeds of dogs are more apt to snore than others. Short-nosed (flat faced) dogs can have breathing issues which can contribute to snoring problems. Due to the shortness of their breathing passages, these dogs are more susceptible to blockages. Some of these breeds include: American Bulldog, Bloodhound, Boston Terrier, Boxer, Brussels Griffon, Bullmastiff, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Chow Chow, English Bulldog, English Mastiff, English Toy Spaniel, French Bulldog, Japanese Spaniel, Lhasa Apso, Pekinese, Pug, Puggle, Saint Bernard, Shar Pei, Shih Tzu, and some mixed breeds.

A dog that is on tranquilizers, muscle relaxers or pain killers may snore. A dog’s muscles relax to the point that they may press on and block the airways, causing an obstruction and in turn snoring. Even the way your dog lays when they are sleeping can contribute to whether or not they snore. Dogs that sleep on their backs are more apt to snore than those that sleep on their stomachs. If you think your dog’s snoring is due to a medication they are taking, speak to your vet about what they are on and any possible side effects. Consider getting a dog bed that encourages them to curl up, which changes their sleeping position and may alleviate the snoring.

Does your dog have allergies? A hypo-allergenic washable bed can help with allergens inside the house. Changing or washing the furnace filters will help cut down on airborne allergens. Walk your dog when the pollen and mold counts and air pollution are low. If your dog is overweight, talk to your veterinarian about a weight reduction program. Losing the extra weight around a dog’s neck can alleviate snoring.

I have lived with several breeds of dogs over the years, and most of them snored at one time or another. Some snored because of the position they slept in (on their backs with their mouth open). Some snored because of the shortness of their noses. We had Boxers that “wuffled” in their sleep, as if they were barking in snores. We had an English Bulldog, Happy, that in my whimsical child’s mind sounded like a musical instrument: long whistling snores, very deep in pitch and as long as a concerto. If you live with a four-legged snorer, it’s always a good idea to consult with your veterinarian. They can evaluate your dog and help you determine the best solution to the snoring.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

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