Snoring isn't just for humans. Dogs and cats can snore, too. And the reasons may sound surprisingly familiar, if you've ever discussed your own snoring with a doctor.
Whether you're talking about pets or people, snoring occurs when the upper airway is narrowed for some reason. The issue is more noticeable during sleep, because muscles in the roof of the mouth, tongue, and throat relax then. This allows tissues in the narrowed area to strike each other and vibrate as air squeezes through. And that's what creates the log-sawing sound.
Here are three things that may contribute to the racket made by your snoozing pet.
In pets, snoring is sometimes caused by a soft palate that's too long or excessively thick. The soft palate is the muscular tissue located at the back of the roof of the mouth.
Some brachycephalic (literally, “short-headed") breeds are particularly notorious snorers. They have flat-looking faces with short muzzles and noses. This facial shape makes them cute, but it also results in a constricted airway. Examples of brachycephalic breeds include:
Brachycephalic breeds often have enlarged soft palates. They may also have everted laryngeal saccules—tissue in front of the vocal cords that's pulled into the windpipe when they breathe. These conditions narrow their airway, and that can mean noisy snoring.
The human connection: Some people have anatomical issues that make them more prone to snoring, too. For example, they may have an overly long soft palate, enlarged tonsils, or a long uvula (the fleshy triangle dangling from the back of the roof of the mouth).
Another possible cause of dog and cat snoring is rhinitis—inflammation of the mucous membrane inside the nose. This inflammation may be due to an upper respiratory infection. Or it may be caused by an allergy to something such as pollen, mold, or dust mites. Besides snoring, symptoms include breathing through the mouth, a drippy nose, and sneezing.
The human connection: People may also snore more if they have a cold or allergy that disrupts air flowing through their nose.
Up to three out of five dogs and cats in the U.S. may be overweight, according to the American Animal Hospital Association. The excess weight often means they have extra tissue in the throat area. And that can translate into snoring.
The human connection: People who are overweight or obese may also have bulked-up throat tissue. They have an increased risk for both snoring and sleep apnea—a serious sleep disorder in which the upper airway becomes repeatedly blocked during sleep.
More Than Just a Nuisance
Just as in humans, snoring in dogs and cats may be associated with treatable health problems. Discuss your pet's persistent snoring with your veterinarian—and your own snoring with your doctor, if it occurs frequently.
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor and is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. Philips disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.