Have you noticed your dog is snorting like a pig and don’t know why? Maybe it’s the first time you have heard this noise and are curious about it? Or perhaps it’s happened a few times, and you are starting to get concerned? So why does your dog snort like a pig?
The likely reason your dog is snorting like a pig is that it is reverse sneezing. Generally, it’s nothing to worry about and is caused by your dog’s throat muscles spasming and their soft palate being irritated. To try to clear their passages, they inhale too much air, creating a pig-like sound.
We know how concerning it can be when your dog starts to make different noises and you aren’t sure if they are normal or not. It can be scary, confusing and leave us wondering if our pet is okay or not.
We look at why your dog snorts like a pig, if it’s normal, and whether you should be concerned.
The most common explanation for a dog snorting like a pig is a reverse sneeze, a condition technically known as paroxysmal respiration. There are other possible explanations for the sound your dog is making, but a reverse sneeze is the most likely.
What is a Reverse Sneeze?
A reverse sneeze occurs when a dog quickly and forcefully pulls air into their nose, as opposed to a regular sneeze where air is quickly and forcefully pushed out through the nose. Instead of a normal sneeze noise, a reverse sneeze creates a snorting noise.
What Happens When My Dog Reverse Sneezes?
While it is not certain what exactly causes a reverse sneeze, we do know that some sort of irritation to the nose, throat, or sinuses often triggers it. Such irritants could be allergens such as grass or pollens, smoke, dust, specific smells, nasal drainage, or nasal mites.
Once triggered, the dog makes rapid, long inhalations (technically called “aspirations”) which create the snorting noise. They will stretch their head and neck, their chest will expand, and their trachea will narrow. It usually sounds like they have something caught in their nose or throat and are trying to get rid of it.
In addition to the snorting, you may also notice hacking, coughing, or wheezing. A typical reverse sneeze event lasts up to a minute in duration.
Are Reverse Sneezes Dangerous to a Dog?
Reverse sneezes pose no more danger to your dog than a regular sneeze — which is little to none. While it can be scary for you and stressful for your dog, there is no risk or danger associated with a reverse sneeze. Like other involuntary responses such as sneezing or hiccups, it usually startles the dog more than anything.
Could It Be Something Other Than Reverse Sneezing?
Yes, there are other causes such as allergies, upper respiratory infections, nasal tumors, foreign bodies in the nasal passages, or a collapsed trachea, all of which can be serious. These are usually rare, but it’s worth being aware of the symptoms.
What Dogs Snort Like A Pig?
Reverse sneezing is more common in smaller breeds and brachycephalic breeds. These include but aren’t limited to: Pugs, Boxers, Chow Chows, English Bull Mastiffs, Yorkshire Terriers, and Beagles.
These dogs have smaller throat and nose structures, making them more susceptible to reverse sneezing.
Brachycephalic breeds also generally are more likely to snore or make other unusual noises as a result of their different nasal structure, even without reverse sneezing.
Common Causes That Aren’t Reverse Sneezing
In some cases, particularly in smaller dog breeds, the snorting isn’t always reverse sneezing. So what else could it be?
Sometimes allergies, infection, or something caught in their nose can cause snorting. This behavior, however, generally continues for longer than reverse sneezing. There also may be other symptoms, including gagging, as well. If the snorting is persistent and regular, see your vet to determine the cause and rule out infection.
Another cause for the pig-like snorts could be a collapsed trachea. A collapsed trachea is when part of the trachea gets obstructed by a tracheal ring collapsing. As the trachea helps your dog breathe, this can be incredibly serious, and you will want to see your vet immediately.
What are the Symptoms of a Collapsed Trachea?
A collapsed trachea means that your dog’s airways will be blocked. You might see other symptoms like labored breathing or a lack of interest in exercise. If you suspect your dog has a collapsed trachea, be sure to take your dog to the vet as soon as possible.
What is the Treatment for a Collapsed Trachea?
Your vet can prescribe antibodies, cough suppressants, or steroids. They will also likely recommend changes such as using a harness when walking your dog, reducing contact with irritants, or weight loss for your dog. With these steps, you should be able to manage the condition.
Other Times Your Dog Might Snort
Snorting, as you can see, is fairly common and isn’t exclusive to certain breeds. To help you identify the cause of your dog’s snorting, there are some factors you should consider. Make a note of when your dog snorts, oinks, or grunts.
Are they excited? Are they pulling on the leash? Have they encountered a strong scent like perfume? If there is a pattern, you can make some changes to help reduce the snorting. Instead of using a lead, you can use a harness to take pressure off your dog’s neck and reduce the snorting.
You can keep them away from perfumes, reduce the number of air fresheners or strong scents in your home, and see if you notice a difference. Ruling out whether it’s situational or not can help determine if your dog’s reverse sneezing is reacting to a certain stimulus.
If your dog has anything stuck in their breathing passageway, a vet can remove it safely. They can also prescribe antihistamines to alleviate any allergies, which should also reduce the reverse sneezing. The same applies to nasal mites; the vet can prescribe the necessary medication to help your dog.
Are These Noises a Sign of Something Serious?
No, occasional snorting is usually not a sign of anything serious. However, if reverse sneezing becomes chronic, it’s worth visiting the vet for anti-inflammatory medicine. If the noises start suddenly, there could be an infection. If this does not stop in a few days, then you should consult your vet.
How to Manage Reverse Sneezing
Ideally, you want your dog’s reverse sneezing to last for as little time as possible. It can be uncomfortable for them, and the noise can be alarming.
Techniques to Stop Reverse Sneezing
Dog owners suggest many different management techniques for reverse sneezing based on their own anecdotal evidence. Of course, many of these will depend on the specific trigger that is causing your dog’s reverse sneeze. Much like treating hiccups, success is on a dog-to-dog basis.
Reported techniques for stopping reverse sneezing include massaging their throat, softly blowing in their face, or holding their nostrils closed for a few seconds. Again, these are speculative treatments and caution should be exercised when applying these techniques to a dog, especially one who has not experienced them before. They can scare the dog.
Many owners of dogs that reverse sneeze suggest gently tapping them on the nose, which can encourage them to swallow. This can sometimes help clear their passageways and reduce the time they are reverse sneezing.
When they are sneezing, do not put your hand in their mouth. This can confuse your dog and might even lead to them accidentally biting you. It’s best to keep your hands away from their mouths at all times as you don’t want to get nipped in the process. Stressed or surprised dogs behave differently than normal.
If you notice that the sneezes are incredibly long, or they are becoming a regular occurrence, then it’s time to call your vet. It’s worth taking notes of when you notice the sneezing happen, as this will help your vet identify any causes or triggers that you can reduce or avoid to help your dog.
If you have a small breed like a Yorkshire Terrier and you notice this happening frequently, then it is best to speak to your vet. It could be a collapsed trachea, and it’s best to get this ruled out as soon as possible.
Can I Stop a Dog from Snorting Like a Pig?
Unfortunately, there is little you can do to stop your dog’s susceptibility to reverse sneezing! Where possible, note any triggers that set your dog off and look to reduce or eliminate them. Some dogs just naturally are more prone to reverse sneezing than others, just as some dogs are more likely to get the hiccups. If you do have serious concerns, then be sure to consult your vet.
While there are a few reasons why a dog might snort like a pig, it is likely to be reverse sneezing most of the time. Those with dogs that are more susceptible to this will be familiar with the noise and can take some reassurance in knowing that it’s usually nothing to worry about.
However, in cases where something more serious might going on, be sure to keep an eye out for other symptoms and take your dog to the vet if the frequency of snorting increases.