Dog Snorting: Why It Happens and What to Do About It

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Everyone sneezes, even your dog. When a dog sneezes it often catches him by surprise, so his reaction to it is just as amusing as the sneeze itself. In addition to sneezing, some dogs exhibit another strange behavior – snorting. Sometimes the two look very similar, so it can be difficult to tell what is really going on. Keep reading to learn more about dog snorting including why it happens and what to do about it.

Dogs sneeze for all kinds of reasons, just like humans. In many cases, it is related to the upper respiratory tract – either something is causing irritation or there is some kind of infection. In dogs, these infections could include anything from distemper to kennel cough. Another potential cause for sneezing in dogs is an upper airway obstruction – this is most common in short-faced breeds that have brachycephalic syndrome. Other potential causes for sneezing into environmental allergies or inhaled irritants, either of which may include dust, pollen, and perfumes.

Related: What Pet Parents Need To Know About Reverse Sneezing In Dogs

Though some of the causes for snorting in dogs overlap with the causes of sneezing, there are some key differences. For example, if your dog snorts frequently then it could be the result of obesity. Obesity increases your dog’s risk for upper airway obstruction which can lead to frequent snorting as your dog tries to clear his respiratory tract. In some cases, snorting is caused by something called “reverse sneezing” in which the dog experiences repeated bouts of spastic inhalation. After the bout passes, your dog may snort to clear his throat.

If your dog snorts very frequently it is not necessarily a cause for concern, but you may want to consult your vet anyway. If your dog is a flat-faced breed or is carrying extra weight, it is likely that he has an upper airway obstruction or some kind of anatomical abnormality that is contributing to the problem. Depending how severe the problem is, your veterinarian may recommend treatment or surgery.

Related: Why Is My Cat Sneezing?

To diagnose your dog’s problem, your vet may take a history of his symptoms so make sure you’ve been paying attention. Next, he’ll perform a physical exam and may take blood to run laboratory tests in order to rule out any underlying health problems. If those results are inconclusive, he may go so far as to order X-rays or other imaging tests. In extreme causes, he may need to do a visual examination of the nasal structures which could require anesthesia.

In addition to having your dog checked out by your veterinarian, there are a few simple things you can do to prevent snorting. For example, you could try using a harness instead of a collar when walking your dog to take the pressure off his neck. Brachycephalic breeds should also be protected from high temperatures and keeping your dog at a healthy body weight will help as well.

In many cases, dog snorting is harmless and doesn’t signify a serious problem. If your dog starts to do it more frequently, however, or if it is paired with signs of respiratory distress, then you need to talk to your veterinarian.