Can Dogs Have Sleep Apnea?


English Bulldog sleeping
AndreaStorti / Flickr

Do you have a loud snorer for a pet dog? Can you hear its vibrating snores from your room when you’re in bed at night? Indeed, some dogs and even small pups can snore so loud and disrupt you from enjoying a decent shuteye.

At times, dog owners start to wonder if that type of snoring is normal for a dog. Or is there an underlying medical condition that needs checking. Is it finding it hard to breathe? What if your dog stops breathing in the night?

If you’ve had questions like these yourself, then this article is for you. Here we discuss if loud snoring dogs like yours can have a medical condition called sleep apnea.

Sleeping dog
Emma Mac / Flickr

Do Dogs Have Sleep Apnea?

Yes. Similar to humans, pet dogs can suffer from sleep apnea. This condition happens often at night when your canine pet is asleep. In sleep apnea, the dog stops breathing. They could wake up choking and struggling to breathe. And so they try to gasp for air.

This can be scary to see and hear. And it must even be scarier for them to experience it. It’s something they wouldn’t understand. Sleep apnea may lead to death if the dog owner doesn’t seek proper treatment for the dog.

What Are Signs of Sleep Apnea in Dogs?

Here are clues to watch out for in your dog:

  1. Loud snoring from your dog
  2. Pauses in breathing while your pet dog is asleep
  3. Your dog finds it difficult to stay asleep
  4. Frequent and unexplained grumpiness.
Pug sleeping
Chris Waits / Flickr

Do All Dogs Get Sleep Apnea?

Any type of dog can develop sleep apnea. However, some breeds seem to suffer from it more.

  1. Short-nosed breeds like Shih Tzus, Boston Terriers, Pugs, and mastiffs are prone to sleep apnea. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Rottweilers, and boxers seem to have them more too.
  2. Breeds that are prone to allergies may develop sleep apnea.
  3. Dogs that are obese can suffer from sleep apnea as a side-effect. Any dog that’s 10 to 20% over its normal body weight is considered obese. Remember that ideal body weight differs per breed.

Can You Treat Sleep Apnea in Your Dog?

Yes. There are ways to treat this condition. Treatable causes can be resolved. Otherwise, you will need to manage your dog’s condition so that it doesn’t get worse. Here are some suggestions.

If your dog is overweight, seek proper advice on how to safely reduce its food intake. Your pet may need some special food. You may also have to limit giving “treats” to your dog or completely do away with the practice for some time. Alternatively, you may introduce more exercise into your dog’s lifestyle. This way, it can burn what it consumes.

Sleeping pug
Paola Rodríguez / Flickr

If your dog suffers from allergies, you may need to make changes to its lifestyle. Don’t bring it near places and items that trigger its allergies. Sometimes, medication may be needed to manage the condition.

You may also need to make changes to your home environment. If there are objects or even plants around the house that makes its allergies worse, you have to relocate those triggers or discard them altogether. Doing this is important to the safety of your dog.

As a responsible pet owner, you have to be diligent in keeping your home dust-free for your dog. And remember to wash its beddings and toys frequently. Because dust can easily accumulate in them.

If your dog has an obstruction in the nose, it may need surgery or prescription drugs to resolve the issue.

Dog sleeping

We should also mention that not all snoring means your dog is having an episode. And it doesn’t always mean that your dog is suffering from sleep apnea. Sometimes, it may get into a sleeping position that causes snoring. In that case, just wake it up or alter its pose.

Other times, it may be dealing with a cold or some type of infection. In this case, make sure it gets a good amount of sun. And monitor its hydration. Some antibiotics may help, especially if your dog isn’t getting better.

Final Thoughts

Dogs can have sleep apnea. Loud snoring and breathing pauses are signs to watch out for in your dog. If these persist or worsen, you should bring your pet to a vet for proper diagnosis and treatment.


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