Original Question: Kirby has always snored, but it is getting much worse. He snores all the time and it is much, much louder now and louder than how my husband used to snore. I also have a 6-year-old pug, and he snores, but not as much or as loud. Could Kirby have developed some kind of blockage or something? Or is it normal for the snoring to become more frequent and so much louder? I know it is normal for Pugs to snore, but this seems excessive (and worse than before). Thank you! - Annette
Thanks for your question.
Snoring in ourselves and our pets is caused by air passing through the respiratory tract and causing the relaxed tissues at the back of the oral cavity and at the top of the trachea (or windpipe) to vibrate together. This creates the snoring noise.
If it is a new condition, it may be occurring because the tissues are not only relaxed, but they could be enlarged from inflammation. It may indicate that a disease process has developed recently. If this were the case, you would expect to see other clinical symptoms when your dog is awake, such as coughing, sneezing, shortness of breath, nasal discharge, lethargy or general malaise. If you are seeing other symptoms such as these, I would recommend that you visit your veterinarian for a consultation, examination and any recommended testing. Any disease that creates inflammation or narrowing of the airways can contribute to snoring. Some of these would be kennel cough, pneumonia, oral trauma, allergies, and upper respiratory infections to name a few. If the condition has started recently or worsened recently, I recommend you see your veterinarian regardless of whether there are other symptoms or not.
If the snoring has been present since birth, a lot of the time it is due to breed specific issues. Many brachycephalic breeds are known to have a few conformational defects like an elongated soft palate at the back of the oral cavity and stenotic nares where the nostrils are. These defects are basically extra tissue at these sites that interfere with airflow and partially obstruct it. There are corrective procedures that can be performed to remove some of this tissue and allow for better airflow. I have seen occasional patients that have these defects significantly enough that they are experiencing symptoms much worse than simple snoring. The reduced airflow can actually cause episodes of temporary collapse (syncope or fainting) when they are excited or over exercised. It will also contribute to issues like heat stress which is extremely concerning and can be fatal. Speak to your veterinarian about the dangers of these issues and how seriously your dog has the condition.
Aside from a disease, snoring in and of itself is not a great concern as long as it is stable, unchanging, is not accompanied by any other symptoms and isn’t waking your dog up. You may find that the snoring reduces with a different head position during sleep. You could try offering a dog bed to sleep on which may cause a different head position and improve the noise level of the snoring. Otherwise, snoring is not a concern. My wife tells me I snore terribly and I’ve managed to make it 44 years. It should be fine.
I hope this helps and good luck.
Dr. Clayton Greenway