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My Dog Sounds Congested When Sleeping. Is Something Wrong?

Most dogs will sound congested while sleeping at some point in their lives, and it usually is no worse than snoring. But there are times when it can indicate more serious issues.

While your dog is sleeping, you might notice them breathing heavily and sounding congested. It can be alarming, especially if it is your first time hearing your dog emitting these strange noises. So, do congested sounds mean that something is wrong with your dog? 

The congested sounds that your dog might produce are not unusual and can occur for several reasons. The most common cause is that your dog is sleeping in an odd position, resulting in congestion. Other reasons your dog may sound congested are allergies, a cold, obesity, medication, or nasal obstruction. 

This article focuses on why your dog might produce congested sounds while sleeping and how you can help them. We will also look at when you should be concerned about your dog’s congestion or heavy breathing. Congested sounds are often normal and don’t require serious treatment. However,  they sometimes indicate health issues that need a vet’s attention. 

Why Does My Dog Sound Congested When Sleeping And Breathing?

The congested sounds that your dog might make when sleeping can have several causes. You should know that these noises are perfectly normal and happen to almost all dogs at some point in their lifetime. Most of the time when your dog sounds congested, it is usually nothing serious, and the treatment is very simple. 

However, if the congested sounds continue for a long time, they might indicate that something more serious is going on and you will need to take your dog to the vet for a checkup. Even though it can be a normal, regular occurrence for your dog, this doesn’t mean it isn’t a serious problem. Therefore, make sure that you determine the reasons for your dog’s congested sounds when sleeping or breathing. 

Below are the most common reasons for congested breathing, so you can determine what might be the issue with your dog before starting to worry. 

Congested Breathing as a Result of an Odd Sleeping Position 

Dogs are very similar to people in that many may take very strange positions while sleeping. When this happens, they start producing congested sounds, and they are usually quite loud. That also happens to people when they sleep in certain positions and start snoring.

If you notice that your dog is only making congested sounds while sleeping in a weird position, such as on their back, then there is likely nothing to worry about. That is not the usual position that dogs take while resting; therefore, it is normal to produce unusual sounds. 

When a dog sleeps on their back or awkwardly on their side with their head or neck in an odd position, their airways can become partially obstructed (think of a kinked garden hose) and they will sound congested. This condition will resolve itself as soon as the dog assumes a more normal sleeping position or wakes and stands up.

However, if you notice that your dog sounds congested while sleeping in their normal posture, then you should consider that something else is causing the congestion. In this case, you should explore other possible reasons for these sounds, or you can just take your dog to the vet to be on the safe side. 

congested dog sleeping in awkward position

Congestion from Allergies

Dogs get allergies and, as with people, the symptoms include congestion.  Seasonal allergies are particularly common among dogs, and it may be a case of your dog’s nose getting stuffed up by inflammation.

Dogs can get allergies from the environment, pollen, or food, and some remedies can help them. However, you will first have to establish what kind of allergy is in question to provide the proper treatment or medication. 

Dogs With Colds

Dogs can catch colds the same way as people do, and they often have difficulty sleeping when this happens. Just as when a person catches a cold, they can get a runny nose or stuffed up nose, producing congested sounds. 

The congested sounds can be very loud, depending on the dog. Also, there are other symptoms such as sneezing, fever, or a runny nose. If your dog shows these symptoms along with the congested sounds, it may be a cold and will likely resolve itself fairly quickly. 

If these symptoms last for longer than a couple of days, you might want to visit your vet to rule out any other medical issues. 

If the congested sounds are really bothering you (and your dog’s own ability to sleep) you can try physically changing the dog’s sleeping position. Often, this can reduce the level of the congested sounds or even cause them to go away altogether.

Congestion from Dental Issues

Dental issues can affect your dog in multiple ways, and congested sounds may present themselves in this case. If your dogs have a sore tooth or some kind of mouth infection, they might start producing congested sounds while breathing or sleeping. That is because the dog’s airway is connected to the mouth, and any disturbance there might affect the breathing. 

Like people, dogs also need dental checkups., so you might consider taking your dog for a dental exam to see whether some dental issue or mouth infection is causing the congested sounds. 

Congestion Caused by Medications

Many medications that you might give your dog can come with side effects, and it is not unusual for them to cause congestion in your dog. 

That usually happens because medications cause your dog to be drowsy and and go into a deeper sleep, which caused them to sound congested. You should check these symptoms with your vet because not all dogs get side effects from medications in the form of congestion.

Extra Weight Contributing to Congestion in Dogs

If your dog has gained some extra weight or starts becoming obese, this can result in congested sounds while sleeping. The excess weight that your dog might gain usually impacts breathing and obstructs the dog’s airway.

Just as extra weight can contribute to sleep apnea (breathing issues) in humans, extra pounds can affect the breathing of a dog while sleeping.

You must monitor the weight of your dog. Dogs, similarly to humans, need a healthy diet to maintain proper conditioning. You also need to make sure that your dog has enough exercise and activity during the day. 

Extra treats and liberal meal sizes can cause a dog — particularly an inactive one — to gain weight quickly. 

Dogs Born With Congested Breathing 

Some dogs do not have any health issues, but they still produce some congested sounds while sleeping regularly. That is because some dog breeds are just born that way, and there is nothing you can do about it. For instance, some dog breeds tend to have small noses that impact their breathing; therefore, they sound congested every time they sleep. 

Many flat-faced dogs like French Bulldogs and Pugs suffer from a disease called Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS). The shape of their skull structure naturally causes obstruction of their airways, leading to congestion and breathing issues. Recently, researchers have discovered that genes may be contributing to a disease which causes these breathing problems as well, and not just the shape of the face. The same genes found in flat-faced breeds have also been found in other breeds with more conventional skull structures.

In this case, you cannot take any measures to stop this. However, you can make sure your dog is comfortable so they can get enough sleep.

Home Remedies For Dog Nasal Congestion

Even though nasal congestion is a normal occurrence, you can try to do something for your dog to provide some congestion relief. You do not have to spend a lot of money since there are home remedies that are simple and cheap, and you do not need special ingredients.  


The most common OTC remedy for dog nasal congestion is Benadryl, an antihistamine marketed to humans. It blocks histamine receptors in a dog, which reduces congestion. Of course, check with your vet before giving Benadryl to determine if it is safe for your particular dog and at what dosage it should be administered.

Chicken Soup for Dog Congestion

Chicken soup is an excellent home remedy that is proven to work both for humans and dogs. Chicken soup is excellent when your dog catches a cold, and it works well in reducing nasal congestion. Also, chicken soup can help with certain food allergies as well. 

Along with getting rid of nasal congestion, chicken soup can contribute to your dog’s healthy diet. It is rich in healthy nutrients; therefore, your dog will have a healthy meal and a remedy in one dish. 

Homemade chicken soup is always a better option than canned soups as the amount of salt content can be controlled.

Humidifier for Dog Congestion

A dry environment can contribute to dog congestion, and running a humidifier in the room with your dog can help clear their airways. You will be able to tell rather quickly if a humidifier is helping or not.

Aromatherapy for Dog Congestion

Aromatherapy is proven to work well with symptom relief in case of a cold. Essential oils such as peppermint and lavender oil are quite effective in getting rid of the nasal congestion of your dog. However, consult with your vet first before starting any aromatherapy treatment since some dogs can develop side effects from the essential oils and produce unwanted results. 

Herbs And Honey

Herbs can be a good solution for treating nasal congestion since they are natural and provide many health benefits. Kali bichromicum and elderflower herbs, for instance, have been proven to work with reducing nasal congestion. 

Herbs go in combination with honey for a better effect. Honey is an amazing natural solution for nasal congestion, and when combined with some herbs, it can do wonders for your dog’s congestion. Limit your dog to one teaspoon of honey a day.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, a dog that sounds congested when sleeping is a normal occurrence, and you usually have nothing to worry about if you notice them. However, there are times when they are an indication of more serious problems, so it is wise to check with your vet to ensure that the congestion is not an indicator of a significant health issue. 

Superb Dog Editor

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