Dog Snoring: Is It Normal Or A Cause For Concern?


Last Updated: February 29, 2024 | 6 min read | Leave a Comment

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A pug laying on back snoring.

I can tell you from my own dog there’s nothing cuter than watching him sleep. But makes me wonder what happens if there’s something wrong. Sometimes, his doggy snores can be loud, and other times, they are cute, but it can also cause concern. It got me to look into reasons why dog snore and when it requires talking to the vet.

Is It Normal For Dogs To Snore?

The short answer to this question is yes, but not always. For some dogs, snoring is normal and harmless. In other situations, it can indicate an underlying health concern. Dogs can start snoring at any age, and discussing it with your vet is always best.

Puppy Snoring

While puppy snoring is super cute, it can be a sign of more severe health concerns or the start of a life-long battle because of their skull’s anatomy.

Snoring In Older Dogs

It’s not normal for dogs to start snoring just because they’re getting older. If your dog never snored before, it’s best to check with your vet to ensure something else isn’t happening.

What The Veterinarian Says

We asked veterinarian Dr. Rebecca MacMillan about dogs snoring, whether it’s normal, and when it is cause for concern.

“Dogs don’t snore unless there is a problem with their airways restricting the air from flowing smoothly through their nose and down into their lungs. As such, most dogs are quiet breathers when relaxed. Just as with people, there are several different reasons why your dog might have started snoring, some more serious than others,” says Dr. MacMillan.

She explains further, “The most common cause is breed abnormalities. Brachycephalic (flat-faced) dogs like Bulldogs, Pugs, or Pekingese are much more likely to snore. This should not be considered “normal” for them. It occurs because of several developmental defects affecting their airways. Narrowed nostrils, an overlong soft palate, and a narrowed trachea (windpipe) contribute to snoring and breathing difficulties. Dogs that carry excessive amounts of weight are also more likely to snore due to the extra pressure on the soft tissue around the airways.”

“Allergies can cause swelling of the delicate soft tissue in both the nasal passages and the back of the throat, as can bacterial, viral, or fungal infections. Something stuck in the nose, causing an obstruction or local infection, could also cause snoring. This could be a foreign body (e.g., a grass seed, small stone, or piece of food) or a growth, such as a polyp or a tumor. In some cases, just sleeping in an awkward position could cause your dog to snore. Lying on their back with their tongue partially obscuring their airway or lying with their neck at a funny angle could create constriction, leading to a snore,” says Dr. MacMillan.

In answer to the question of when it’s time to talk to your vet, Dr. MacMillan explains, “Signs that you should take your dog to the vet for a check-up include any discharge from one or both of their nostrils, difficulty breathing, noisy breathing, lethargy, inappetence, or any unusual facial swellings. If your dog is snoring in the daytime as well as at night, this also means it is much more likely to be a more serious issue that needs addressing urgently.”

Causes Of Dog Snoring

The cause of dog snoring is simple: airflow restriction in the nasal passage and throat. It gets more complicated when you want to know what factors restrict the airflow. Here are a few factors that obstruct the airway and cause snoring.

  • Anatomy: Some breeds are more likely to snore because of the shape of their skull. For instance, brachycephalic breeds, like Bulldogs, Shih Tzus, and Pugs, have a shorter breathing passage than other dogs because their head is short and broad.
  • Common Cold: Dogs can get a cold, just like humans. Many of the symptoms flare up the nasal cavity and restrict airflow.
  • Dental Issues: Infections in a dog’s tooth can put pressure on the nasal cavity and block airflow.
  • Hypothyroidism: Snoring is one of the initial signs of hypothyroidism in dogs. This health issue occurs when the thyroid gland doesn’t produce an adequate amount of the hormone that regulates metabolism and may require medication.
  • Obesity: Overweight dogs can have extra fat in their necks that constrict the airway. You may need to consider how to help your dog lose weight.
  • Obstruction: Snoring may be a sign that your dog has something stuck in his nose. Sticks and other small objects might get lodged into his nose when he’s digging and sniffing around.
  • Second-Hand Smoke: If someone is smoking around your dog or in your house, it can cause irritation and inflammation in his nose and lungs, leading to snoring.
  • Tumors: Tumors can grow in the nasal passage or places that might pressure it, causing the airway to narrow.

Why Does My Dog Snore So Loud?

How loud dogs snore depends on how narrow the airway becomes. The thinner the airway, the louder the snoring will become.

Snoring And Congestion

Does your pup sound like he’s snoring when he’s awake? This sound commonly results from your dog having nasal or chest congestion. When mucus from a cold or infection gets into the airway, it can cause your dog to snore.

Respiratory Infections

Dogs can develop respiratory infections that can lead to snoring and breathing problems. Our pups, just like us, snore more frequently and are much louder when they are sick due to sore throats and stuffy nostrils. Once your dog feels better, the snoring will likely stop.

Dog Sleep Apnea

Apnea is a sleep disorder that causes breathing to stop and start during rest. It can be very serious but is rare in dogs. If you think this may be a concern, keep an eye out for other breathing problems like gasping and choking while sleeping, extreme tiredness, and irritability, in addition to snoring.

Heavy Breathing While Sleeping

Like snoring, you can expect heavy breathing while your dog sleeps, especially if he’s warm and panting to regulate his temperature. However, if it seems different from normal, it could be a sign of something more severe, like a respiratory infection or heart disease, and it would be wise to consult your vet.

What To Do If Dog Snoring Starts All Of A Sudden

If your dog has never been a snorer and suddenly starts, this could signal a problem. You should check in with your vet. Sudden onset snoring could indicate a problem with your dog’s nose, like a severe infection or growth.


If you have concerns about your dog’s snoring, you should talk to your veterinarian about the cause and how to treat it. Here are some possible allergy treatments to consider.

1. Treat Any Underlying Condition

If there’s an underlying condition, like allergies or hypothyroidism, treat that first. Clearing up the problem may stop the snoring. Treatment may be costly, so you may want to consider whether pet insurance is worth having before you find yourself in this situation. In most cases, preexisting conditions will not be covered by pet insurance.

2. Adjust The Sleeping Position

It’s best for snoring dogs to sleep on their side rather than their back. If you have a back sleeper, try gently rolling him to his side. You can also prop your pup’s head above their chest with a pillow so that they have an open airway and less constriction when they breathe. Many dogs prefer sleeping with a pillow, so this can add more comfort.

A round dog bed is also an option to try. These encourage dogs to sleep in a position that leaves the airway open.

3. Reduce Allergens

When you know what your dog is allergic to, you can reduce his exposure. If you’re not sure if your dog has allergies, you can try an at-home allergy test kit. Because dogs can be allergic to different things, it is important to find the cause. Allergies can be food-related or environmental. Your veterinarian may prescribe medication like an inhaler or topical treatment. Be sure to rule out a flea allergy or infestation.

4. Add Moisture To The Air

Adding a humidifier to the room where your dog sleeps can help moisturize their airway, reduce inflammation, and may ease snoring. (It may also help the humans, especially in winter!)

5. Help Your Pup Lose Weight

If your dog snores due to being overweight or obese, losing a few pounds may help reduce snoring as your pup can breathe easier. It may not fully stop snoring, but a healthy weight will improve it and benefit your pup’s overall health. Get your pup up, out, and active with more walks, interactive games, and a diet formulated to lose weight.

What Does A Snoring Dog Sound Like?

If you aren’t sure what to listen for, here’s a video of two of our Canine Journal pups snoring (thanks, Lexie and Lily!).

Make Sure Your Dog Gets A Good Night’s Sleep

Snoring is only one reason you might feel concerned about your dog’s sleeping habits and behaviors. Some pups experience insomnia, sleepwalking, or vivid dreams that prevent restful sleep. Our experts have researched melatonin for dogs to help you decide if it might be the right choice for your furry friend’s sleep or anxiety disorders.

Keeping Dogs Happy & Healthy

Keeping your pet healthy is a big task but well worth it. A healthy diet, plenty of exercise, playtime, and love are essential. Along with that, regular vet checkups throughout your dog’s life will keep him happy and by your side as long as possible. Don’t skip out on preventative care visits. Many problems can be identified and treated before they become serious at these vet appointments.

Why Trust Canine Journal

Sadie Cornelius is a dog parent to Georgie, a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel who is prone to snoring in his sleep. He has a small snout, loves to doze off, and dreams of chasing squirrels. Although he’s never had any respiratory issues, she is familiar with the issue of dogs snoozing and how to deal with it. Because the breed is prone to obesity, which can make the problem worse, she keeps him on a lean diet that is meat-free to also help with his food allergies.

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