OOPS MY DOG SNORES
While most partners have to change rooms at some point, we usually find it rather cute with our four-legged friends when they sleep soundly and snore.
But if your dog snores every night and you have the feeling that the snoring is getting worse every day, then as a dog owner you wonder whether the snoring is still normal or not. In this article, we will also try to explain in more detail whether snoring bothers your dog, what the causes of dog snoring are and whether you should do something about it.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- How does snoring occur?
- What are the causes of breathing noises and can I do something about it?
- The brachycephalic dog - what does it mean?
- A final request in the interest of animal welfare
1. How does snoring occur?
Snoring (technical term: rhonchopathy) is a breathing sound of inspiration caused by narrowing of the airways and fluttering movements of anatomical structures of the upper airways. This usually happens during sleep as the muscles relax and become somewhat flaccid.
If snoring is very pronounced, oxygen supply may be reduced and general physical performance is usually decreased.
Some dogs only snore when they are sleeping, others also snore during the day when they are awake. In addition, these dogs often have a rattling sound.
The rattling, which can occur both during inhalation and exhalation, is a rattling, wheezing breathing sound that is always associated with difficult breathing.
2. What are the causes of breathing noises and can I do something about it?
For most dogs that snore, there is no need to worry.
Many dogs snore precisely when they are completely relaxed or exhausted. Don't wake your dog up because the deep sleep phase is important and should be enjoyed by your dog. The snoring itself does not bother your dog at all - he probably does not even notice it.
However, if the snoring bothers you too much during the night, you can of course nudge your dog so that he lies down differently.
In the following, we will explain further reasons and measures as well as which of them can be dangerous.
Excessive weight also leads to fat deposits in the throat area, which can put pressure on the airways. This can trigger or increase snoring.
Obesity can lead to other secondary diseases such as arthrosis and diabetes mellitus. If your dog suffers from being overweight (in the truest sense of the word!), you should change his diet accordingly with the help of your vet or a dog nutritionist and discuss the ideal weight.
As with humans, the tendency to snore increases with age.
The tightness of the tissue decreases and everything becomes a little looser. But does a little snoring matter if you love your dog more than anything?
III. Sleeping position
Most dogs will do anything to be as close to their owner as possible and therefore prefer to squeeze into a bed that is too narrow rather than lie down somewhere else comfortably. Resting or supporting the head while lying down can also lead to snoring noises due to pressure on the airways.
Maybe your puppy has suddenly grown much bigger than you thought and his dog bed has simply become too small. A new basket could do him good (you have to try this out, some animals enjoy their small basket because the border gives them security).
Your dog will know how long he can stay in this position and there is no need to worry.
Exception: If the dog is very brachycephalic (short-nosed) and regularly suffers from severe respiratory distress or even fainting. In this case, you should try to provide your four-legged friend with the best possible lying position.
IV. Tumor/abscess/foreign body
In a nutshell, almost anything that obstructs the airflow in the airways will cause a noise.
So, if your dog snores continuously more or only recently, in rare cases it may be a tumor or abscess (a collection of pus that forms a capsule around itself).
Foreign bodies, things that literally get stuck in the throat, can also cause sudden snoring.
The dog may have inhaled something or swallowed it accidentally - often this can only be detected by endoscopy.
V. Cold/flu infection
An infection of the upper respiratory tract can also occur in our four-legged friends.
The causes are usually viruses. However, bacteria or fungi (mold from the flat!?) can also be blamed.
If a dog suffers from purulent nasal discharge in addition to snoring, a visit to the vet is unavoidable.
If your four-legged friend also coughs, it may be the so-called "kennel cough". This disease is caused by a complex of viruses and bacteria.
Of course, only a visit to the vet can clarify whether it is a case of this throat infection.
If your four-legged friend suffers from an allergy, this can lead to swelling and constriction of the airways.
However, allergies in dogs are less likely to be expressed via the respiratory tract than in humans.
A bee or wasp sting can of course also occur in our four-legged friends - this can be dangerous in the respiratory tract and should be examined by a veterinarian immediately if suspected.
VII. Laryngeal paralysis (Larynx paralysis)
This refers to a partial to complete paralysis of the laryngeal muscles. The cause is neurological, more precisely a disease of the "laryngeal recurrent nerve" or the "vagus nerve".
In this case, the larynx can no longer be properly dilated during inhalation, the vocal cords enter the airways during inhalation and a rasping sound is produced.
This usually increases with age until the owner finally recognises respiratory problems.
The dog does not suffer from snoring in the strict sense, but since it is not always easy for you as a dog owner to distinguish between snoring and rattling, I have listed this here.
Now I come to a very sad but immensely important topic:
3. The brachycephalic dog - what does it mean?
Brachycephaly means short headed. This has come about through selective breeding, as dogs of these breeds often display the so-called "childlike pattern" and thus look exceedingly cute to many people.
Put simply, the entire respiratory tract (from the nostrils to the pharynx to the trachea) of these dogs is constricted and, in addition, they often have virtually no visible nose.
Physiological (normal, healthy and important) nasal breathing is hardly possible and the dogs have to breathe more through the mouth - hence the conspicuous panting and snoring when awake.
Among other things, nasal breathing also contributes to cooling the dog's body, which is hardly possible in these breeds. Therefore, they suffer particularly in heat and are more susceptible to heat shock/heat stroke.
Even the snoring and rattling, from which these animals often suffer enormously (even if it is not always apparent in this way), many owners find cute.
Mostly not out of malice, but rather out of ignorance.
Not all animals have the same degree of shortened head, in this article I refer to the (mostly!) extreme cases.
This inherited condition causes the animals to suffer for the rest of their lives, leading to severe health damage and thus a lower quality of life.
I. The following is an excerpt from the University of Veterinary Medicine Leipzig
"Short-headed dogs are predisposed to upper respiratory problems. The changes are summarized under the term brachycephalic respiratory distress syndrome (BAS). Characteristic findings include narrowed nostrils and nasal cavities, an elongated and thickened soft palate and changes in the larynx. These features can occur singly or in combination and impair respiratory function, which can lead to variable loudness of snoring breathing and, in severe cases, to severe breathlessness, blue discolouration of the mucous membranes (cyanosis) and collapse. Summer temperatures worsen the symptoms and not infrequently lead to fatal choking attacks."
II. Which breeds are affected?
Breeds particularly affected are Pugs, Pekinese, Boxers, Shi-Tsu, Boston Terriers and many Bulldogs (especially the French and English).
Of course, there are also mixed breeds that are short-headed.
III. How do the symptoms manifest themselves?
In addition to snoring, affected dogs show low resilience and frequent or constant panting.
Sometimes nasal breathing is hardly possible, so that eating is difficult and the dogs often swallow.
The symptoms can be aggravated by heat or stress, and in some cases the dogs may faint under too much stress.
An increased "clenching" of the abdomen/abdominal muscles when exhaling can also be an indication.
Unfortunately, the symptoms mentioned are not always recognised by the owner or taken as "normal and always been there".
In particularly severe cases, surgery must be considered, which is sometimes more and sometimes less successful, but can sometimes save lives.
In successful cases you will see the dogs suddenly blossom, run and play more and of course the breathing problems improve.
If you are considering such surgery with your vet, it may be helpful to film your dog in particularly problematic situations (acute respiratory distress, fainting spells, etc.). This may help in making a decision.
And: If these breeds are also overweight (which is unfortunately often the case), the whole symptomatology worsens even more.
If your dog is a snorer for harmless reasons, you will have to accept it for better or worse. It will not bother him.
But if it bothers you too much in the long run, don't ban him from the bedroom overnight, but get him used to it slowly.
Otherwise he may not understand the world any more.
If you are unsure or have the feeling that snoring is a problem, you should take your dog to the vet.
He will always examine your dog in general and ask you various questions (so-called "anamnesis").
He will often find the first clues to a possible illness.
You should also go to the vet if your dog suddenly starts snoring a lot, or if he is also tired or has shortness of breath (emergency!).
Depending on the cause, this can worsen and even lead to suffocation. This must be avoided at all costs!
If your dog suffers from chronic, very severe respiratory problems, you should consult a specialized vet and discuss the further course of action with him.
Tip: If you do not have a clear diagnosis from your vet, you can keep a "snoring diary".
In it, you record the situations in which your dog snores more, how often and when it occurs. Has there been a change in the environment? Also any particularities (e.g. nasal discharge, floppiness, eye irritation...) that you can think of.
Sometimes you discover a "red thread" and come to a diagnosis or even a direct solution more quickly.
5. A final request in the interest of animal welfare
As cute as some dog breeds are, don't buy a dog from a torture breed. If you still have your heart set on one of these breeds, there are plenty of dogs in animal shelters eagerly waiting for a new home and lots of love.