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Is your dog snoring more than usual?

Are they experiencing other signs of upper respiratory infections like dog congestion?

Did you even know dogs had nasal congestion?

Whether you know nothing of dog congestion or you know more than your average pet lover, you could benefit from this article summarizing the possible reasons for dog congestion.

My Dog Sounds Congested – What is it?

Dog sounds congestedNasal congestion, also called rhinitis or sinusitis, is simply the inflammation of mucous membranes in the nose. Whether it’s your nose or your dog’s, the same process occurs to cause congestion of the nose.

Dog congestion causes blood vessels in nasal passages to swell. Airflow decreases, causing difficulty breathing and obstruction of the nasal membranes that aid in the filtration of bacteria and viruses.

Symptoms of Dog Congestion

Sighting dog congestion signs and symptoms can help precisely decipher the underlying cause of a stuffy nose. The following are common symptoms of congestion in dogs:

  • Nasal discharge and nose swelling
  • Difficulty breathing and heavy breathing
  • Dog breathing fast
  • Sneezing or reverse sneezing
  • Snorting
  • Pawing of the face
  • Depression, lethargy, or restlessness
  • Loss of appetite

Many dog parents may be familiar with reverse sneezing.

Huh? What’s that?

Have you ever noticed your dog uncharacteristically taking rapid inhalations through the nose?

Reverse sneezing sounds similar to a sneeze but instead of blowing air out, a dog takes air in, through short breaths, in rapid succession.

The fancy term for reverse sneezing is paroxysmal respiration. Paroxysmal means sudden, abrupt or compulsively, and of course respiration; well, you get the idea.

Sneezing and reverse sneezing is the body’s way of ridding itself of bothersome irritants like:

  • Dust
  • Mites
  • Pollen
  • Smoke
Studies have shown that brachycephalic dogs are on average3.5% more likely to suffer from an upper respiratory tract disorder than their longer snouted counterparts.

Dog Sounds Congested When Breathing

Speaking of brachycephalic breeds, these are also dogs that are more likely to sound congested.

Compared to other dogs, your Pug or Frenchie may be more likely to:

  • Snore
  • Snort
  • Reverse Sneeze
  • Suffer from upper respiratory disease

Although many pet parents of these cute, flat-faced breeds find their little snores and snorts adorable, they are signs of blockage and difficulty breathing.

The bottom line is, if the dog sounds congested, regardless of the breed, it may be worth looking into for your dog’s comfort.

Help! My Dog Sounds Congested When Sleeping!

Again, brachycephalic breeds are more likely to snore, snort, and have congestion problems simply because of their unique facial structure.

You see, brachycephalic breeds end up with abnormal characteristics like narrowed nostrils and an elongated soft palate.

These abnormalities can cause mild to severe obstruction of the nasal passages, making breathing more tricky in general.

More on Dog Nasal Congestion

Dog nasal congestionSo many culprits may be responsible for congestion in dogs. Since nasal congestion is a common sign of many culprits, consult your vet when you notice something off about your pet.

Dig into the many reasons why your dog may sound or be congested in the following section.

My Dog Snores and Sounds Congested! What’s Going On?

Many dogs snore, and often, it’s nothing to be concerned about, but knowing your dog and what is normal for them is essential in monitoring the severity of possible respiratory disease and illness.

There are a few reasons why your dog may be snoring.

  1. Breed
  2. Position
  3. Weight


As mentioned above there is a group of dogs that is more prone to upper respiratory disease. These dog breeds are considered to have brachycephalic syndrome.

Brachycephalic literally means “short-headed”. These dogs have purposely been bred to have shorter muzzles and noses. This has caused these dogs’ throat and breathing passages to often be undersized or flattened.

Brachycephalic breeds include:

  • Boston Terriers
  • Pugs
  • Shih Tzus
  • Pomeranians
  • Boxers
  • French Bulldogs
  • English Bulldogs
  • Pekinese

Do cats have these issues? 

Yes. The cat breed known for its oddly smushed and grouchy face can also experience brachycephalic conformation.

Have you guessed it? The Persian cat!


Just like when your partner sleeps on their back and snores until you nudge a gentle elbow into their side, a dog can be more likely to snore if they are in certain positions.

Although a snoring pup is often much more endearing than a human, you may have to adjust your pet to reduce their snoring. If that doesn’t work, earplugs are always an option.


Body positivity is everything, but the truth is that dogs holding excess pounds are more likely to snore than dogs of average weight.

Extra fat can constrain the airways, weighing them down and adding additional stress. A little chub doesn’t hurt anyone, and most know the weight loss struggle, but overweight dogs may be at risk for more than just snoring.

When should I worry about my dog’s snoring?

You know your dog best.

Has your pup always been a loud sleeper?

Are they acting normal otherwise, or do they seem a little under the weather?

Are they experiencing any other symptoms of infection like runny nose, gooey or watery eyes, dog coughing, or sneezing?

If so, you’ll want to get your pup checked out as soon as possible, for they may be suffering from an illness or a group of them like canine infectious tracheobronchitis. 

Why Does My Dog Sound Congested?

Dog congestion can be a sign of:

  1. Viral infection
  2. Pneumonia
  3. Kennel cough or bacterial infection
  4. Heart disease
  5. Allergies
  6. Dental issues
  7. Nasal tumours

Viral Infection  

A vast amount of viral infections can cause dog congestion. However, staying up to date on vaccinations can practically eliminate the risk of some of these dangerous viruses.

The most common viral infections causing nasal congestion are:

Fortunately, the more dangerous viruses are practically eliminated with the administration of core vaccines that should be included in your annual vet visit. However, Canine Influenza Virus and Canine Coronavirus are not required for dogs. 

Some doggy daycares and boarding facilities will require other non-core vaccines for admittance to their facility, but the state and individual businesses often determine which vaccines are required and which ones aren’t.


Pneumonia in dogs is never a sought after diagnosis, but this terrifying illness does have treatment options. Pneumonia isn’t always the terminal sentence it once was believed to be.

However, Pneumonia is usually the result of a progressing severe viral, bacterial, or fungal infection. Pneumonia is another reason to nip signs of infection in the bud before they have a chance to progress.

Kennel cough or bacterial infection

As you may know by now, kennel cough is a broad term for a whole slew of viral infections and one particular bacterial culprit that causes upper respiratory disease in dogs (and cats).

Bordetella Bronchiseptica is the one that takes the brunt of the blame for the incredibly contagious “kennel cough.”

The vaccine referred to as the kennel cough vaccine often only provides protection against the bacteria, hence why the vaccine is also called “the bordetella vaccine”.

Heart disease

When the heart cannot pump enough blood through the body, the body fluid backs up, causing congestive heart failure in dogs.

Often dogs with heart disease will suffer from similar signs such as:

  • Wheezing
  • A harsh, persistent cough
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Intolerance to activity
  • Pale gums
  • Pulmonary crackles

Dogs suffering from heart disease can also be characterized by a dog heart failure sound.

About 75% of senior dogs and 10% of all dogs have heart disease,


Dogs can experience nasal congestion and allergic rhinitis from all sorts of things, including household irritants. As with other respiratory issues, brachycephalic dog breeds are more likely to experience allergies than others.

Common allergens include:

  • Pollen
  • Mites
  • Spores
  • Dust
  • Smoke
If your dog has allergies, he or she will benefit greatly from regularly cleaned filters and a smoke-free home.

Dental issues

Dogs with abscesses or infections in the mouth will often get sinus infections, which can cause dog congestion as well as other unsavoury signs.

Signs of dental issues in dogs include:

  • Bad breath
  • Inflamed gums
  • Tartar and plaque build-up
  • Swollen jaw
  • Trouble chewing

If your dog has a tooth infection or another dental issue, you must get it taken care of right away.

Regardless of where it begins, the infection can end up in the bloodstream if left untreated. At that point, the illness will only become more difficult to recover from.

Nasal Tumours

Tumours can be the reason for blockage of the nasal passage, causing dog congestion. Consult your vet if your dog is experiencing difficulty breathing, as the underlying cause could be a serious health condition.

Causes of Nasal Congestion in Dogs

General CauseExamples
Viral Infection
  • Distemper
  • Canine Coronavirus
  • Canine Influenza
  • Parainfluenza
  • Adenovirus
  • Parvovirus
  • Fungal Pneumonia
  • Bacterial Pneumonia
  • Aspiration Pneumonia
Bacterial Infection
  • Bordetella Bronchiseptica
  • Streptococcus
Fungal Infection
  • Blastomyces
Heart Disease
  • Heartworm
  • Pollen
  • Mites
  • Spores
  • Dust
  • Smoke
Dental Issues
  • Periodontal disease
  • Tartar and plaque build up
Nasal Tumours
  • Cancer

Dog Congestion Home Remedies

Home remedies for dog congestionIf your dog has come down with a case of sniffles, then home remedies may be just the thing to get your furry companion back to normal.

Here are the top remedies for treating dog congestion at home. Though some may seem too obvious or straightforward, they are not to be overlooked.

  • Steam
  • Honey and herbs
  • Vitamin C
  • Rest, rest, and more rest
  • Hydration
  • Healthy nutrition 
  • Warmth

My Puppy Sounds Congested

Puppy sounds congestedPuppies and kittens come with some extra strings attached, but what do you expect from these adorable bundles of love? The extra trouble will be worth it!

A few things you may not know about puppies:

  1. Puppies and kittens often have intestinal worms
  2. Puppies are more susceptible to infection and disease
  3. Puppies get a limited amount of antibodies from their mother

Puppies and Kittens Often Have Intestinal Worms

Although puppies and kittens do not become infected with roundworms in utero, they often become infected from their mother’s milk if they are carriers.

Roundworms can cause symptoms like:

  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Gagging
  • Shortness of breath
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

If allowed to get big enough, roundworms can end up in the lungs, sometimes causing Pneumonia and other serious illnesses.

Puppies Are More Susceptible to Infection and Disease

Puppies have not had the time to develop a functioning immune system yet. Because of this, they are sitting ducks for infectious diseases during the first several weeks of their lives.

Most vaccines can be risky for baby pets younger than eight weeks old or less than 2.5 pounds.

Therefore, it’s recommended to avoid dangerous situations where infection is more likely, like boarding, kennels, and animal shelters, at least until your puppy is big enough to be fully immunized.

Puppies Get a Limited Amount of Antibodies From Their Mother

Mothers offer everything they have to their young, and dogs are no different.

If the mother dog is vaccinated, her litter will have limited immunity for the first several weeks of their lives.

Lucky puppies and kittens who can nurse from their mothers for as long as they need are much safer than the many animals separated from their mothers earlier than is ideal.

Because it is unknown what a puppy or kitten is carrying early on, it is good to keep them isolated from other pets until they are vaccinated.

Puppy Diseases and What to Do About Them

Puppy DiseaseTreatment
  • Dewormer can be administered in two doses at 6-8 weeks old
Bacterial Infection
  • Supportive care
  • Antibiotics
  • Rest/Hydration/Nutrition
Viral infection
  • Supportive Care
  • Rest/Hydration/Nutrition
  • Anti-inflammatories/Pain reliever

Why You Should Pay Attention to Dog Congestion

As with humans, dog congestion can signify several underlying conditions or infections from the mild to the severe.

Because the scope of dog congestion is so broad, paying attention to your pets symptoms and investing in their health is the best way to stay informed of their well-being.

With the services of a good veterinarian, a healthy lifestyle, and your undivided attention and care, your dog will be in competent hands.