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Does your pet snore?

Original Publication Date: April 13, 2015
By C. Sue Furman, Ph.D.

Does Your Pet Snore?

Dogs are more apt to snore than cats, but either can produce snuffling rattling sounds as they sleep.

A partial obstruction of air as it flows over the soft palate and uvula in the back of the throat causes the noise. Some pets snore as youngsters and continue throughout their life. Others start in later years. A pet may have a soft humming snore or one that rumbles so loudly it keeps you awake.

Dogs with long narrow heads like the Greyhound are categorized as dolichocephalic. The skulls of the majority of dogs like the German Shepherd are mesaticephalic or intermediate in length and width. Dogs with these skull types certainly can snore. Dogs with very short muzzles like pugs, boxers, Pekingese, bulldogs, Boston terriers, chow chows and Shih tzus are termed brachychephalic breeds. Most snore due to their very short soft palates.

There are other physical reasons that pets snore. Weak throat muscle can cause a partial closing of the throat when the pet is asleep. Snoring is the result. Tension in jaw muscles or a misaligned jaw can also cause a pet to snore. Check with your veterinarian to determine if medical attention is required.

A night-time droning serenade can be brought on by allergies that cause stuffiness and congestion. The usual allergen culprits are pollen, dust, mildew, mold, household cleaners, air fresheners, perfume, incense and secondhand smoke, but some dogs are allergic to cats, other dogs, small pets in the home and even their owner.

If your dog is allergy-prone, try cleaning their bedding daily and vacuuming regularly to remove dust and hair. Your veterinarian can offer advice and perhaps medication to alleviate the problem. They can also confirm that the nasal congestion is not the result of a cold.

Certain prescriptions including antihistamines, pain medications, muscle relaxants and sedatives can cause snoring, but the problem should be short lived and disappear once your dog finishes the medicine.

If snoring begins or gets worse as a dog ages, there is a good chance it is related to weight gain, because excessive fat can obstruct the throat and airways. Try decreasing their food intake and increasing their activity level. Once the excess weight is gone, the sleepy-time racket will probably disappear.

Changing a pet's body position during sleep may relieve their tendency to snore. Elevate its head with a pillow. It may open their air passages and make them feel very special. A round bed encourages sleeping in a curled position that allows airways to expand and discourages snoring.

A snoring pet can be a source of amusement or a bit of an annoyance if its crooning is very loud. As long as there is no underlying medical problem, learn to enjoy the snuffling rattling snores of your furry friend or encourage it to sleep in another room.

Sue Furman, Ph.D, has published two books and a DVD on canine massage and teaches classes in pet massage, acupressure, first aid and CPR. See her schedule and submit questions at