Can Dogs Have Sleep Apnea?

Our dogs can have sleep apnea as much as we do, however, as normal as it may be to us humans, it can be a sign of an underlying health problem for our dog. These underlying health problems may be severe, may cause death, and would require medical attention.

What are the symptoms of sleep apnea? When should I be worried?

Stick around as we determine whether dogs can have sleep apnea.

What Is Sleep Apnea In Dogs?

Common reasons why your dog might have sleep apnea are allergies, obesity, or face structure. If your dog has allergies, they might have trouble breathing especially when they sneeze a lot as a foreign object could be blocking their airway. 

Obesity in dogs can cause a serious buildup of fatty tissues which can block their airways during sleep. 

Face structure can also be a factor that can lead to sleep apnea, especially if your dog is flat-faced, or brachycephalic because their small nostrils cause their airway and the parts that make the airway to be shorter.

Sleep apnea in dogs occurs the same way we, humans, experience, which is a temporary stop in breathing that would jolt them awake. This can often lead to a lack of sleep and other health risks. 

Symptoms Of Sleep Apnea

Symptoms of sleep apnea may include:

  • Loud snoring
  • Choking during sleep
  • Jolts that wake them
  • Tiredness

Factors that can cause sleep apnea are allergies, obesity, and flat-faced structure. If your dog has any of these, you must consult with your vet and determine what you can do to prevent them from having sleep apnea.

How Can I Help My Dog With Sleep Apnea?

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to help your dog with sleep apnea or to prevent your dog from having sleep apnea. Let’s go through a few things you can do.

Consult With Your Vet

It is always wise to consult with your vet if your dog is having health complications. Sleep apnea can lead to severe health problems and might even kill your dog. You should monitor and take note of the symptoms that your dog is displaying, like if he’s a loud snorer or if they have labored breathing when they are sleeping, and relay them to your vet.

There are already a few diagnostic tools and techniques to cater to dogs with sleep apnea. Your vet may also prescribe you sleep apnea medications or sleep disorder therapy.

Healthier Lifestyle

If your dog is having sleep apnea because they are overweight, then it is time for you to change their diet and lifestyle. Visit your vet for a recommendation and what diet you can give to your dog since its diet can depend on breed and size. You can also maintain a regular exercise routine for your dog to help them burn away fat.

Health professionals also have obesity rehabilitation for dogs, which would require a calorie deficit in your dog’s food consumption and oftentimes would require your dog to undergo weight-loss specific equipment, such as underwater treadmills.

Consider Surgery

For dogs with a flat face structure or brachycephalic dogs, your vet might recommend them to undergo surgery especially if they are having difficulty breathing. Their small nostrils will force their airways to be shorter which would interfere with their breathing.

Surgery would help by removing small tissue from the nostrils which would allow more air to go through the nose and would improve your dog’s breathing.

FAQs About Can Dogs Have Sleep Apnea

How Can I Tell If My Dog Has Sleep Apnea?

Symptoms of sleep apnea may include loud snoring, labored breathing, choking in their sleep, tiredness, especially during the day, and sudden jolts that would them during sleep. If you observe your dog displaying these symptoms, contact your vet as it might be caused by an underlying health condition.

How Can I Help My Dog With Sleep Apnea?

You can help your dog with sleep apnea by bringing them to the vet for a professional evaluation. The ways to resolve sleep apnea are by surgically removing small tissue on their nostrils to improve their airways, prescribing anti-allergy medications, or dietary changes if your dog is obese.

Why Does My Dog Sound Like He’s Struggling To Breath While Sleeping?

Your dog might be struggling with breathing while they are sleeping because their airways might be compromised and not getting enough oxygen inside their lungs. This can be a sign of sleep apnea which can be caused by allergies, dog obesity, or if your dog has a flat face structure.

Is Sleep Apnea Common In Dogs?

Sleep apnea is rare to occur in dogs but is common in dogs with a flat-faced structure, or brachycephalic dogs. This is because their small nostrils their airways and parts that makeup tier airways are smaller which would limit the oxygen that gets into their lungs.

Why Does My Dog Sound Like He Has A Hairball?

Much like cats, your dog might be trying to cough up something that is stuck in their throat, this is also called “kennel cough”. This dry, persistent coughing might be because your dog has swallowed something that got lodged up their throat or if their fur has accumulated in their throats after they groom themselves.

Should I Be Able To Hear My Dog Breathing While Sleeping?

If your dog is breathing loudly while sleeping, or they are having labored breathing, this might mean that their airway is compromised. This can be caused either by sleep apnea or if a foreign object has blocked their airway. If your dog is going through this, contact your vet for a professional evaluation.


Sleep apnea in dogs shouldn’t be taken lightly as it can be a sign of a severe underlying health condition. If so, you might need to consider your dog going through surgery, anti-allergy medications, or a dietary and lifestyle change. Consult with your vet to help you prevent your dog from further health complications or to prevent sleep apnea in the first place.

Learn more about the what’s and how’s about your dog at Doggos Daily, where we provide you with all the information that you’ll need.

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by Nicole Barnett

Nicole has been a freelance writer for over 10 years. She has three dogs, two of which she rescued from the streets. When not furiously typing away at her computer, you’d either find her chasing after her adorable dogs and kids, or volunteering at a local shelter.

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