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During his naps or while sleeping at night, I occasionally notice my Golden Retriever snores. Sometimes the snoring can be thunderous; however, most often, it does not last for long. However, these loud bouts of snoring got me wondering if Golden Retrievers can snore, and is snoring normal in Golden Retrievers?
Occasional snoring is not unusual for Golden Retrievers, provided there are no health issues as the cause. Regular snoring is often due to the dog’s sleeping position, which causes the tongue or soft throat tissues to relax and partially block or restrict air movement inside the nose or throat.
So, just like people often, the Golden Retriever’s sleeping position causes snoring. For example, a frequent position that causes snoring is sleeping on the back, causing the tongue to restrict some air movement.
However, there are instances where snoring may be due to other causes or even underlying health issues.
This article will explore the world of snoring and Golden Retrievers. First, I’ll discuss what snoring is and the causes of snoring.
Then, finally, I’ll look at some suggestions that might help ease snoring in your Golden Retriever.
What Is Snoring?
Snoring is the restriction of air movement into the nasal passageways or throat. When your Golden Retriever falls asleep, the muscles in the soft palate, throat, and tongue relax and may partially block the airways, which in turn causes vibrations.
For example, the soft tissues in the throat can relax and partially block the airway causing vibrations. Or, the air restriction is due to the tongue blocking some air movement.
The greater the blockage of the airways, the more forceful the airflow becomes, causing increased vibrations and louder snoring.
When Is Snoring a Cause for Concern in a Golden Retriever?
So, your Golden Retrieves snores. But, how do you know if that snoring is typical or when it is a cause for concern?
Snoring may be a cause for concern if it comes on suddenly and is very loud or the snoring is excessive. Snoring can also be characteristic of sleep apnea, where your dog stops breathing for a period.
Additionally, If you find your dog is lethargic the next day, disinterested in exercising or playing, or agitated and restless, snoring may be impacting its sleep.
Sleep is essential to a dog’s mental cognition, and lack of sleep can negatively impact a dog’s brain.
Often signs of lack of sleep in dogs will manifest as stress, anxiety, or even agitation or aggressiveness. Usually, you will see a very restless dog that can’t settle down.
Sleep is also essential for the normal functioning of hormones and the healthy repair and regeneration of muscles, skin, and organs.
To learn more about the importance of sleep in your Golden Retriever, check out this article: Golden Retriever Puppies: How Much Do They Sleep?
The causes of snoring are discussed next.
Causes of Snoring in Golden Retrievers
Typically snoring falls into two categories. The first is typical snoring. Snoring in this category has no underlying health causes and no cause for concern.
However, the second category of snoring often arises from some underlying health issue or occurs as a secondary issue to the primary health issue. For example, some medications to treat a health concern may cause snoring, not the health issue itself.
Let’s look at each category in more detail.
Non-Health Related Causes of Snoring
Non-health-related snoring arises from one of two things: anatomy and sleeping position. This type of snoring does not have an underlying medical cause but rather is due to how a dog is built and how they sleep.
Most dogs with snoring due to anatomical issues are pugs and bulldogs. Breeds with these characteristic flat faces and shorter noses are brachycephalic.
Brachycephalic means short-headed, and these dogs snore much more due to the anatomy of their heads and nasal passages.
Healthy Golden Retrievers do not possess flat faces and short noses. As a result, they do not snore due to anatomical causes arising from brachycephaly.
So, for Golden Retrievers, regular snoring is typically caused by sleeping positions.
A healthy Golden Retriever with no underlying health issues will often snore due to body position when sleeping.
Often when a dog sleeps on its back, the tongue relaxes and causes a partial blockage of its airway, resulting in snoring. However, the neck and head position can also cause snoring, even if the dog is sleeping on its side.
Suppose your Golden Retriever is sleeping with its head in a tilted position. In that case, it may cause the soft tissue in the mouth to relax and position itself to hinder the airways somewhat. The result is snoring.
For example, my Golden Retriever will often sleep with its head on an object, with the head tilted up, or with its head off hanging off the side of the bed. Although he is sleeping on his side, he will snore due to the neck and head position.
Adjusting the sleep position, whether the dog is sleeping on its back or with its head tilted, will usually stop the snoring.
Health-Related Issues That May Cause Snoring in Golden Retrievers
Often the cause of snoring in a Golden Retriever can be due to health issues. Usually, the snoring itself is not a concern but rather a sign of the underlying medical problem causing it.
Potential health issues include obesity, dental problems, airway obstructions, medications, and allergies or colds.
Obesity in dogs is prevalent and can affect them in many ways.
A Golden Retriever that is overweight or obese may snore more due to extra fat accumulating on the upper airway tissues. This excess fat compresses the airway, restricting airflow and causing snoring.
Additionally, excess fat surrounding can compress the dog’s chest wall and the lungs, decreasing lung volume and diminishing airflow.
If you are unsure if your Golden Retriever is overweight, or you need some tips you can implement if it is, then check out this post: A Fat Golden Retriever? (How To Know and What to Do).
If your Golden Retriever has dental issues, it can cause snoring. How so? Consider that anything that causes restricted airflow in the nasal passageways or throat can potentially result in snoring.
An infection from an abscessed tooth can affect the throat and nasal passageways. Specifically, the infected soft tissue can cause swelling and put pressure on the throat or nasal cavity, which restricts airflow and causes snoring.
Obstructions can block the airway and restrict airflow. Obstructions can be foreign objects lodged in the nasal cavity or throat, such as seeds, twigs, or dirt.
Obstructions can also be from masses such as tumors, abscesses, or polyps, which may result from cancers or infections.
If your dog has never been a snorer and suddenly starts, this could signal a problem. You should check in with your vet. Sudden onset snoring could indicate a problem with your dog’s nose, like severe infections or a growth.
If obstructions are the cause, a veterinarian will need to remove them.
Allergies and Infections
Yes, our Golden Retrievers can suffer from allergies just like we do, and the same allergy culprits that cause issues with people can affect our dogs too. Irritants such as dust, pollen, smoke (e.g., forest fires, campfires), and other particles can cause the airways to become irritated.
Once irritated, the body produces mucus. That combination of mucus and an irritated airway may lead to snoring.
If your dog suffers from allergies, you can look for many common signs that people experience. For example, your Golden Retriever may sneeze a lot, have a running nose, or its eyes may water.
Often snoring can increase in the winter when the furnace is running. Any dust and irritant particles are distributed through the house via the furnace vents. The dry air doesn’t help either.
For example, my Golden Retriever Bailey constantly has running eyes. The veterinarian said it’s due to irritants in the air; however, Bailey does not snore regularly (only when he is in an odd position or very relaxed), so the vet has noted it is nothing to be concerned about.
Colds are more frequent in the winter months, and your dog may snore if it is suffering from a cold infection. However, once the cold subsides, so should the snoring.
Certain medications can cause snoring, especially if they relax the dog and cause the throat muscles to relax. However, the snoring often stops once the dog is off the drug.
However, if your dog is on medication for life or the snoring does not stop once off the medication, let your veterinarian know to ensure there are no other underlying causes of concern.
Beware that many drugs, such as Ibuprofen (Advil), which are safe for people, can be dangerous to Golden Retrievers. It’s not advisable to give any medications to your dog unless under the direction of a veterinarian.
Check out this post if you want to learn just how dangerous Ibuprofen can be: Ibuprofen for Golden Retrievers: Is It Safe?
While smoke as an irritant was discussed in allergies, smoke from cigarettes deserves its discussion due to health concerns. Secondhand smoke has the potential to irritate the airways and cause snoring. It can also cause other health issues such as lung and heart disease.
Like people, secondhand smoke can be dangerous to our pets. However, if you must smoke and have a Golden Retriever, try to do so outside. Smoke can be incredibly irritating to dogs, considering they have a sense of smell vastly superior to human beings.
How good is the Golden Retriever’s sense of smell, you ask? Read about it here: Do Golden Retrievers Have a Good Sense of Smell?
Other Medical Issues
Snoring can be a sign of medical issues in dogs. For example, medical conditions such as sleep apnea, lung issues, or hypothyroidism can cause snoring in dogs.
If your Golden Retriever snores and seems to be suffering from some health-related problems (e.g., lethargy, excessive shedding, thin fur, etc.) or does not seem to be its normal self, schedule an exam with your veterinarian.
Likewise, if your Golden Retriever appears healthy but still snores excessively, then consulting a veterinarian is also beneficial as a precaution.
Your vet can rule out any health issues, check for dental problems, and determine if your Golden might need to lose some weight.
Tips To Ease Snoring
Sometimes all it takes is a few simple actions to help your Golden Retriever with its snoring. Especially if the snoring is caused by things in the environment that we can eliminate, adjust, or lessen.
Frequently, the very steps that help reduce snoring in people work with our Golden Retrievers too.
Adjust the Sleeping Position
If your dog sleeps on its back, then adjusting its sleeping position often does the trick. You can gently roll your Golden Retriever on its side in these instances.
However, most Golden Retrievers do not sleep on their back for long periods, so they should roll to their side after a short time.
Keep your house clean to cut down on dust, pollen, and other irritants to reduce allergens. You can also use a home air purifier to clean the air and help cut down on allergens.
If there is smoke in the summer from forest fires, try to keep the windows closed, clean regularly, and utilize an air purifier.
Make sure your furnace filter is clean and replace it regularly in the winter.
Add Moisture to the Air
Adding moisture to the air can help if your area of the world suffers from dry air. Often dry air is common if you live in an area with cold winters (like here in Canada).
Humidifiers can be attached as part of the furnace. However, adding a humidifier to the room where your dog sleeps can also be helpful.
Oftentimes the dry air is responsible for snoring in the same way allergens do. The dry air causes excess mucus production and throat irritation leading to snoring.
Humidifiers can help keep allergens like dust stuck to the ground or other surfaces by adding moisture to the air. Dust is more buoyant in air that is dry and lacking moisture.
Diet and Exercise
Diet and exercise are essential for keeping your Golden Retriever at a healthy weight. Unfortunately, many dogs that suffer from obesity can be prone to snoring.
Plus, exercise has the added benefit of being good for the heart and lungs of your Golden Retriever.
The best advice is to consult with your vet on the most helpful approach to ensuring your Golden Retriever loses weight in the healthiest way possible.
Treat Underlying Medical Conditions
Finally, if your Golden Retriever has any underlying medical conditions, the best course of action is to treat the illness.
For example, suppose snoring is associated with an illness or the medication used to treat it. In that case, the snoring will cease or resume to more normal levels once the issue has been resolved.
Of course, if it is a condition that must be treated for a lifetime, snoring might be a side effect you will need to live with and manage. In those cases, you can implement some of the tips discussed earlier, such as reducing dust and pollen and using humidifiers and air purifiers.
Doing so might not eliminate snoring, but hopefully, it can reduce its severity and make sleeping more comfortable for you and your Golden.
Finally, whether the medical condition is temporary or longer-term, talk to your vet about ways you can help your Golden Retriever snore less.
If it turns out that your healthy Golden Retriever is a snorer, and it happens to sleep with you or in your room, then there may be only one solution left. Earplugs.
Short of having your Golden Retriever sleep in another room, earplugs might be an inexpensive and easy fix. However, beware that earplugs can take some getting used to, and it may take some experimenting to find ones that fit your ear properly.
Summing It Up
Most often, Golden Retriever snoring is perfectly normal and is nothing to be concerned about. Usually, it has to do more with the dog’s sleeping position or if it is in a very relaxed or deep sleep.
In fact, most pet owners will notice their Golden Retrievers snore at some point in the dog’s lifetime. However, when snoring becomes excessive, it may be due to a health issue, and a trip to the vet may be warranted to address any underlying causes.
If it turns out your Golden Retrievers is just a snorer, you’ll just have to manage it as best as possible. But, hopefully, implementing some of the suggestions discussed will make sleeping more comfortable for your Golden Retriever.
And, for you!