A snoring puppy isn’t an immediate call to the veterinarian. It can be perfectly normal for a picture-perfect puppy to audibly get some Zs. In more rare instances, it’s a sign that something is wrong and should be checked out. There’s a lot to unpack on this topic.
There are a few key things to investigate when it comes to your puppy snoring. While snoring can be normal and part of breed genetics, environmental factors, or the puppy’s sleeping position, it can also be one way a puppy tells you something is wrong.
Before you head to the vet worried sick, let’s look at everything you need to know about why your puppy is snoring.
What is Snoring and is it Normal?
Snoring is simply some kind of air movement that is restricted in either the puppy’s nasal passages or throat. Puppies can also sleep in some very unique positions that force the tongue and airway into odd positions as well, causing snoring noises. So yes, it can be normal.
You should not just write off the sound as normal if it continues as the puppy grows or if the puppy makes additional concerning breathing noises while awake.
What Does Puppy Snoring Sound Like?
There are plenty of viral videos out there showing people laughing at the sound of a snoring puppy. Any dog’s snoring noise is a relatively low-pitched noise called Stertor. Some dogs even make this snoring sound when wide awake, leading to more laughs, but also a larger cause for concern.
Here are some examples of normal and abnormal breathing sounds dogs can make.
Is My Puppy Snoring or Dreaming?
Puppies can make a wide variety of noises when sleeping and the noise isn’t always snoring. Of course, we can never ask a puppy, “Were you dreaming?” Scientists have done research on rats, which has turned into assumptions of dogs, claiming dogs to dream.
There’s a difference between a twitching puppy making growling noises or a high-pitched squeak or bark when in the rapid-eye-movement (REM) stage of sleep. This is not snoring, though it can be a similar sound.
You notice this a lot more because puppies, sleep 11 hours a day on average. Some up to 20 hours a day. Much of that is during human waking hours, so we see our pups twitching and hear the noises they make.
There are canine sleep trackers available to show you the science behind your dog’s snooze and see if they are getting quality sleep or if there should be concern about sleeping patterns.
What Causes of Snoring?
Several factors can play into the possibility of a dog snoring, and you should research your breed of dog ahead of the homecoming to make sure you are aware of health risks out there.
- Sleeping position: This is the easier elimination step for problem snoring. If the puppy is upside down with its head cocked oddly, there’s a good chance that it’s just the tongue getting in the way of the air pipe.
- Infections: Puppies are subject to allergies and environmental factors just like humans. Dust and pollen can cause inflammation in the airways, and if you live in a home with smokers, that can cause inflammation as well. You’ll notice other signs in your puppy like a runny nose, cough, or eye “boogies.”
- Foreign objects: Puppies are notoriously sneaky and can get into trouble before we know it, swallowing small items like hair ties, bottle caps, and pieces of toy fluff. Check your pup’s airway before a nap to be sure.
- Obesity: Much like its human counterparts, an overweight puppy can have extra weight, putting pressure on the head and throat. This can cause snoring. Most vets allow you to weigh a puppy for free to see if the weight is normal, low, or high.
- Breed of Dog: A short-nosed dog, known as a Brachycephalic dog, is more prone to breathing issues in general, including snoring.
What Breeds are More Likely to Snore?
The short-nosed, short-headed dogs labeled as Brachycephalic, are among the most popular breeds, according to the American Kennel Club. They have swishy faces and plenty of adorable wrinkles around the muzzle, making them “cute” but also at risk of breathing issues throughout life.
- Bull Mastiffs
- Boston Terriers
- Shih Tzus
- Lhasa Apso
If you have a mutt, you can investigate their head and nose for brachycephalic traits. They have a flat-faced appearance with much shorter snouts than other dogs.
These dogs are more like to have Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS), which is a version of sleep apnea. Not every Brachycephalic dog is going to get BOAS, so it’s important to know the signs.
- Snorting or snoring sounds during exercise or while resting but awake
- Nasal discharge
- Difficulty breathing during exercise
- Breathing trouble exacerbated in the heat
- Restlessness at night
- Sleep apnea (periods of non-breathing during sleep)
- Regurgitating food or vomiting
- Collapsing after struggling to breathe
Any one of these symptoms should mean booking a trip to the veterinarian. Unless the dog is unconscious, you don’t need to rush to the emergency vet, but get in as soon as you can. You and the dog will both rest easier if you do.
When Should You be Concerned about Snoring?
Whether you have a brachycephalic dog or a regular snouted dog, you need to be concerned when the dog appears to have trouble breathing in its sleep, or if breathing stops for any length of time.
All dogs can be prone to sleep apnea under the wrong conditions, just like humans. Signs include:
- Choking or gasping while snoozing
- Being irritable during waking hours
- Being extremely tired without much playtime
- Excessive sleep during the day
Sleep apnea in dogs is very rare, but not unheard of.
A snoring dog, especially if overweight, might have hypothyroidism. This should be checked out by a veterinarian with a simple blood test. It’s a quick fix of the right thyroid medicine, but it will be medicine they need to take for life.
Another reason to see the vet about snoring is if your puppy has been a smooth sleeper for weeks or months and suddenly develops loud snoring. This could be key to a health issue.
What Can You Do to Limit Puppy Snoring?
A few simple steps can help the puppy stop snoring. Dogs lying on their backs can be prone to snoring just because of that position. You can slowly and methodically move them, so their head is elevated. Yes, we’re telling you to put your puppy’s head on a pillow.
Help your puppy lose weight. This is generally done with less food and not just more exercise. Work with your veterinarian for the best way to lose weight in a healthy way.
Don’t let anyone smoke around the puppy. The smoke particles can hurt their respiratory tract, leading to unnecessary snoring.
Ask the veterinarian if any medications cause snoring. Pain medication, muscle relaxants, sedatives, and antihistamines can relax the dog’s throat, causing snoring.
If you live in a dry climate, add a humidifier to your pet’s sleeping area.
Should You Wake Up a Snoring Puppy?
There’s a reason for the old adage “Let sleeping dogs lie.” You should not abruptly wake up a sleeping dog according to the AKC. Think about times you’ve been awakened during a dream or nightmare. It can be jolting and your reaction unpredictable. Dogs are no different. Just be there for the puppy as they wake up.
If you absolutely need to wake them up, do it with a soft calling of their name. Don’t jolt them awake.
My Puppy Makes Snoring Sounds When Awake. Is This Normal?
This goes back to the concern of BOAS. It’s not normal for dogs to make a snoring noise while awake, but if they are brachycephalic, they sometimes can’t control it.
There is surgery to widen nostrils and tracheas, but that’s the last resort.
We talked earlier about Stertor being the traditional noise of snoring, but there is also a counterpart of Stridor, which is noisy breathing that is higher pitched. A slew of health issues can accompany a dog that develops Stridor breathing, so definitely bring it up at the next veterinarian visit.
When to go to the Vet because of Puppy Snoring
This decision is up to you, and the best way is to trust your gut. Pet parents have a way of knowing something is wrong with their dog. Peace of mind is worth the price of a vet visit.
Also, you should go to the vet if you do have a brachycephalic dog and the breathing issues continue or worsen.
Do puppies grow out of the snoring phase?
As puppies grow, they are less likely to snore while their bodies develop to full size if they are perfectly healthy.
Puppies require several vaccination visits in the first few months, leading to perfect opportunities to talk with your vet about snoring concerns.
Should I Let My Puppy Sleep with Me to Track Snoring?
There’s a whole other debate in the world of pet ownership and pet experts on whether it’s safe and smart to have a dog sleep with you in bed. Letting a dog have a “safe space” to sleep, like a kennel or crate, is often recommended for training purposes and for both of you to get the best night’s sleep possible.
Especially in the youngest stages of puppy development, there’s a danger you might roll over on the puppy or push the puppy into an awkward sleeping position without knowing it. This can trigger snoring or breathing issues if the puppy is stuffed between a pillow, a blanket, and you.
You can keep the crate or kennel nearby so you can still hear the puppy’s sleeping pattern without risking any accidents or safety hazards in the bed.
Don’t let a puppy roam freely at night, as the dogs have natural instincts to wake up when they hear a threat. This could be something you blissfully sleep through, and it could cause the puppy to get into trouble and swallow something dangerous.
How do I Stop a Healthy Puppy from Snoring at Night? It’s So Loud!
The best bet is to get yourself some earbuds or a noise machine to block out the sound if you are 100% sure the snoring is just normal and you’ve ruled out health issues.
There are also ergonomically-designed dog beds to reduce your pet’s anxiety and encourage a proper sleeping position that opens the airways for a good night’s sleep or well-deserved nap. These beds come in a variety of sizes for all dogs. There are options for beds that keep them warm, cool them down, straighten their spine, and provide joint support for a snooze.
You’ll find products that promise to stop snoring in its tracks for your puppy. Most times these supplements are not FDA evaluated and you should talk to your veterinarian before adding anything to your puppy’s system.
Why do I like watching my puppy sleep?
Watching a puppy sleep can be so soothing. The serenity of a day well played oozing from the content face of a puppy that feels secure in your home just triggers all kinds of happy and calming feelings.
Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) is a growing trend of a soothing sensation that gives you all the feels. A happy sleeping puppy is one of those ASMR triggers for many pet owners.
Watching them will also help you notice anything abnormal in their sleeping patterns.
Final Thoughts on Snoring Puppies
It’s normal in a lot of ways for a puppy to make some kind of noise when sleeping, but there are times when you need to be alert for changes, developments, and other factors that might impact a good night’s sleep or a well-deserved nap.
Know your breed, examine your environment, and discuss concerns with your vet. Keep a watchful eye on a napping puppy so you are building a bond and a best friend for a long life together.