my dog sounds congested while sleeping
Category_Dog Knowledge

My Dog Sounds Congested When Sleeping - Is Something Wrong?

by Andrew Ehlert

While your dog is sound asleep, you might be awake worrying if there’s something wrong with their breathing. If they sound congested or are breathing more heavily than they usually would, it can be alarming. There are many reasons your dog may experience congestion, most of which are nothing to worry about.

They may have a cold or have changed into an odd sleeping position. Whatever the case may be, we will go over why your dog may sound congested and when to consult a vet.

What Does It Mean If My Dog Sounds Congested?

Typically, when your dog sounds congested when sleeping, nothing is wrong. However, it may be a sign of something more severe in some cases. If you notice signs of congestion in your dog, keep a close eye on it and note any changes.

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For example, if your dog gasps for air in the middle of the night or their strange sounds worsen, you shouldn’t ignore it. First, let’s rule out some of the most common reasons for congestion in dogs at night.

Common Reasons for Nighttime Congestion in Dogs

Here are the most common reasons dogs are congested at night.

Your Dog’s Sleeping Position

You know how when your partner sleeps on their back, they always seem to snore all night long? Dogs are like humans in that the way they sleep affects their breathing.

If it seems like your dog only makes strange sounds in their sleep while lying in an unusual position, you more than likely have no reason to be concerned. However, if the noises persist, no matter how they lie, there may be another cause.

Allergies or a Cold

Dogs are more like people than we think and can experience allergies or catch a cold. Our pups go through the same symptoms that an allergic reaction or illness gives us.

If you suspect that your dog has an allergy, it’s best to consult your veterinarian to determine what they’re reacting to.

Dogs that have colds will have a stuffy nose, causing some congestion. You may notice other symptoms in combination, such as sneezing or a runny nose. They may even have a fever. If your dog experiences cold or allergy symptoms combined with loud breathing at night, it’ll likely pass on its own.

Dental Issues

Poor doggy dental health may cause various issues, including congested sounds. If your pup has an infection or a cavity, it can affect how they sound in their sleep. Their mouth is connected to their airway, so any irritation may transfer to their breathing.

It may be a good idea if it’s been a while since you’ve taken your dog for a dental exam. Even if it’s not the cause of their congestion, dental issues in dogs can lead to other health problems.

Medication Side Effects

Have you given your dog a new medication recently? If so, check the side effects to see if they include congestion. Some medicines may also make dogs feel drowsier, causing them to have a deeper sleep, which may cause snoring sounds.


Obese and overweight dogs can cause poor health, including their lungs. Ensure that your dog is within the recommended weight range for their breed. You’ll also need to ensure that you feed them the proper portions of food and give them the appropriate amount of exercise for their breed and size.

Offer treats sparingly, as the calories can quickly add up. You can also use healthier treats, such as baby carrots, that your pup is sure to love just as much.

Dogs Breeds With Congested Breathing

Some dog breeds are more prone to congested breathing than others due to their anatomy. Flat-faced dogs suffer from BOAS (Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome) due to their skull shape obstructing their airway.

If you have a dog breed such as a pug or French bulldog, this is normal for their species. While there’s nothing you can do to stop their odd noises, you can take measures to ensure your dog is comfortable while they sleep.


Older dogs are more likely to snore or sound congested while they sleep. As they age, the nerves in their airways start to weaken. Although this is normal and is usually not a cause for concern, it could signify laryngeal paralysis.

If you notice that the congestion or snoring disturbs your senior dog, talk to your veterinarian to rule out any illnesses.

Secondhand Smoke

We all know that if you smoke a cigarette near another person, it can affect their lungs. Unfortunately, secondhand smoke can also cause irreversible damage to your pup’s lungs. The inflammation the smoke causes to their airways can cause snoring or congestion.

If you smoke, always do so outside, away from any people or pets.

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What Can You Do if Your Dog Is Congested?

Although congestion is normal in dogs, there are some ways you can help them, especially if they have a cold.

Rule Out Potential Causes

Before you do anything:

  1. Consider whether your dog’s age or breed is the result of their congestion.
  2. If their weight is the cause, ensure they are on a healthy diet with plenty of playtime and exercise.
  3. Take note of any medications you may have recently given them.
  4. Schedule them a dental check-up if it's been a while.

Pay attention to the time of year your dog snores. If your dog snores more in the summer, they are likely to experience seasonal allergies.

Find The Root Cause of The Congested Sleeping

Once you rule out any potential causes, you can narrow down what the root cause is. If it’s something you can help with, such as their weight, start by working on that issue. On the other hand, if you’re unsure or you suspect it’s something outside your control, your veterinarian can create the right treatment plan if needed.

Try Home Remedies

If your dog has other cold-like symptoms or you suspect seasonal allergies, here are some remedies to help them with congestion:

  • Antihistamines can help dogs the same way they help people. Consult your vet to get the proper dosage.
  • Use a humidifier at night; some extra humidity may help clear their airways.
  • Get rid of any lingering bacteria by cleaning their bedding, bowls, toys, or anything else they use regularly
  • Chicken soup helps dogs just as much as humans who are congested. Feed them lukewarm low-sodium broth, cooked veggies, and brown rice to help clear their sinuses.

Final Thoughts

You usually don’t need to worry if your dog sounds congested at night. In some cases, it can be indicative of issues. If they exhibit any symptoms or if you’re unsure what’s causing it, your veterinarian can help determine the reason for their congestion and work out a treatment plan if one is needed.

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