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Snoring

Poodle Snoring

Overview

Many owners wonder if it is normal for Poodles to snore, since this is normally thought of as a problem for Brachycephalic breeds (those with short, compacted faces such as the Pug or Bulldog). However, there are several reasons why a toy, mini or standard Poodle may snore. 
 
Actual snoring is the sound that manifests when there is a vibration of the respiratory structures due to obstructed air movement while asleep. Therefore any grunting type noises that happen when a Poodle is awake will be a different issue.

Snoring typically happens once the dog falls into deep sleep. 
Although some Poodles may snore even during short, light naps. While it may worsen as a dog ages, it is not limited to any one particular age or variety of Poodle.

Effects of Snoring

Can snoring be harmful to a Poodle? Not always, but in some cases it can be. Aside from keeping you awake at night, there are some concerns to keep in mind that may happen to dogs that have moderate to severe snoring problems.
 
1) Altered behavior - If you're ever grumpy after a bad night's sleep, you'll understand why snoring may affect a Poodle's mood. While some people assume that a dog is in a heavy sleep when snoring, quite the opposite may be true. It can cause a disturbed sleep pattern that leads a type of deep sleep deprivation which in turn can lead to moody or agitated behavior.

2) Heart strain - Over a long period time, prolonged snoring due to obstructive sleep apnea can cause elevation in blood pressure and even enlargement of the heart which increase a dog's risk of heart attack and stroke.
Reasons why a Poodle Snores

The reasons why a Poodle may can range from very simple and easily resolved issues to much more serious medical conditions. 

The most common reasons include:

Allergies - Inflamed throat and nasal passages can cause snoring. This may be a seasonal issue such as pollen in the spring or dust in the winter when houses are often closed up due to cold weather. Other signs of allergies may include eye or nasal discharge, wheezing, coughing and itching. Since snoring is not often the only symptom of allergies with a Poodle, it's best to seek veterinary treatment that will help the puppy or dog with all issues. For mild to moderate issues antihistamines and/or anti-inflammatories may be given.

Dry Air - When the air in the house is lacking normal moisture (common during the winter when heating elements are being used), this can cause throat and nasal membranes to swell, which in turn can lead to snoring. It should be noted that very dry air (both indoor and out) can cause dry skin on a Poodle and even static to the coat which can result in breakage. Of course humidifiers will help though low-cost at-home remedies can include leaving bowls of water out, having lots of house plants, keeping doors open when showering and leaving clothes out to air dry.

Odd positioning of the head - Some Poodles will sleep in very odd positions and if they tend to curl up a certain way there may be obstructed breathing that does not wake the dog up but does cause him to snore. If snoring is loud enough to wake up owners or if it is disturbing the sleep patterns of the Poodle enough to cause behavioral issues, you'll want to try and improve your Poodle's sleeping posture. This can be accomplished by switching to a different dog bed that either has a deeper or more shallow design depending on what is currently being used. In addition, offering a canine pillow that will elevate the Poodle's head can often help to reduce snoring.
Less Common but Possible Reasons include:

Sleep Apnea - Snoring is the #1 sign of sleep apnea and this can be a serious health issue for dogs. This is a condition in which breathing is temporarily halted for very briefly but continually while sleeping. This pause is breathing typically lasts 10 to 20 seconds and a dog can have this happen anywhere from 10 to 100's of times each night. Aside from snoring, a Poodle may also make gasping noises.

Minor cases will often include snoring and lead to the dog being overly sleeping the next day or moody. More serious cases can even be fatal.

Treatment involves making sure that the Poodle is not overweight and placing a humidifier by his sleeping area during the winter and using AC in the summer. The dog will be checked for allergies and in some cases anti-inflammatory medication can help. In serious cases that are jeopardizing the dog's heath, surgery performed to remove excess tissue in the throat to make the airway wider.

Elongated soft palate -While not common with the Poodle breed, this is sometimes the cause of snoring. Dogs that have a longer than usual soft palate may snore and also have trouble breathing during exercise, make snorting noises , gag when eating, cough and/or vomit during or right after eating. These symptoms may worsen during hot humid weather conditions.

Treatment for minor cases often involves non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications. More serious cases are often treated with surgery to shorten the palate.

Nasal Stenosis - As with elongated palate, stenotic nares (pinched nostrils) are not common with the Poodle breed but is a possible cause. This is a narrowing of the nostrils that causes snoring, snorting noises and often times trouble breathing, particularly when excited. This is a congenital defect (the dog is born with this) though with minor cases it may flare up only when a puppy is in the teething phase and clears up on its own afterward. With mild cases, a Poodle should not be exercised in hot, humid weather and owners should try and help avoid any stressful situations. If a dog is really struggling, surgery is often performed to widen the nasal openings.
Aspergillosis - This is a type of fungal disease that -when seen in canines- is localized to the nasal cavities. It is causes by mold that can be found in outdoor grass clippings and other similar environments.

Other signs aside from snoring are sneezing, weakness, nasal discharge and lesions around the nose. This is treated with antifungal medication.

Dental Problems - While you may not immediately equate snoring with tooth issues, infection of a tooth can inflame the nasal passages which can lead to snoring. Other signs may include trouble eating hard foods, swollen gums and/or bad breath

At-home dental care that includes regular brushing of the teeth is a very important part of Poodle care. Offering healthy dental treats and having your Poodle's mouth examined at least once per year are also vital in maintaining good oral hygiene and helping to combat tooth decay, tooth loss and such serious issues as weakened jaw bones and even full-body infection.

Excess Weight - While this breed is not known for having obesity problems, any dog can become overweight from a combination of too much food and not enough activity. Excess fat around the neck area will have an effect on a dog's tracheal rings, which in turn can cause snoring. Carrying around excess pounds can have terrible health effects and even shorten a dog's lifespan.
At-Home Ways to Help a Poodle Stop Snoring

If you have had your Poodle checked out to rule out any of the above listed possible medical issues, there are some easy steps you can take to help cut down on snoring:

1- Keep moisture in the air. Use humidifiers throughout the house or just where you Poodle sleeps.

2- Evaluate your Poodle's sleeping area. A different dog bed or the addition of a canine pillow can help reposition the way your dog sleeps.

3- Remove/limit possible allergens. Dust mites can be a common cause of allergies, so be sure to clean your Poodle's bed coverings and any blankets that he/she may use. Using a HEPA certified vacuum cleaner can remove fine particles of pollen and other allergens from both flooring and the air.

If it is a matter of seasonal allergies, check your local pollen levels (via weather station reporting) to avoid walking your Poodle at times when triggers may be high.

4- Keep your Poodle at a healthy weight.  Senior dogs are most prone to weight gain since there is a slowing of the metabolism and often a decrease in activity. If you suspect that your Poodle may be too heavy, discuss this with your vet.

5- Help your Poodle avoid airborne irritants - While the number of smokers drops each year and is currently fewer than 20% of the population, if there are any smokers in your house keep in mind that inhaling secondhand smoke will have serious effects on your Poodle. Irritation to the throat and nasal passages may cause snoring and prolonged exposure to smoke can lead to cancer. Heavy use of air freshener sprays and other airborne chemicals can also cause issues over time. 
6- If snoring is chronic you'll want to have your Poodle examined by a trusted, experienced veterinarian who can look into things further and rule out possible serious issues.
Summary

While snoring may be completely harmless and in some cases even seem comical, it is important to remember that if a Poodle has chronic snoring this can point to serous health issues that must be treated by a professional. 

We are our dog's advocates and should not hesitate to have issues evaluated. Many conditions are much easily treated when detected during early stages.
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