If your dog is making strange noises when they breathe, it’s possible that they could be congested. Congestion can be awful and will make breathing more difficult for them, especially at night, so it’s important to figure out the cause and get them some relief as soon as possible.
In this article, I will share the 9 most common reasons why dogs sound congested. I will also provide tips on how to help your dog get relief from congestion and feel better again. If you’re concerned about your dog’s breathing then keep reading!
What does it mean when your dog sounds congested?
When your dog is congested, it means that their airway is blocked or partially obstructed. This can be caused by a number of things including allergies, colds, sinus infections, and more. Congestion can make your dog’s breathing sound laboured or wheezy and they may make strange noises when they breathe out. In severe cases, your dog may have trouble breathing and may even stop breathing altogether.
If you think that your dog is congested, it’s important to take them to the vet as soon as possible. They will be able to determine the cause of the congestion and help you treat it effectively – they are the experts after all.
Why your dog may sound congested
There are a few underlying medical conditions that can cause congestion, however, in some cases, congestion can occur if your dog is sleeping in a cold room, on a hard surface or sleeping in an unusual position that can restrict their breathing. If your dog is otherwise healthy and only sounds congested when they sleep, there’s a good chance that this is the reason why.
Here are the 9 most common reasons why your dog may sound congested:
- Unusual sleeping positions
- Dental problems
- Obesity or weight gain
- Sinus Infections
- Heart failure
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Congested breathing from an unusual sleeping position
If your dog is sleeping in a weird or unusual sleeping position, this can cause congestion. This is because when they sleep, their muscles relax and their tongue can fall back into their throat, blocking their airway. They may snore or make grunting noises when they breathe.
If you notice this, gently move your dog into a different position so that they are more comfortable and their airway is not obstructed. You may need to do this every so often during the night.
Dental issues can cause congestion in dogs
Dental problems are one of the most common causes of congestion in dogs. If your dog has a tooth that is abscessed or infected, this can cause its gums to swell and block its airway. They may also have trouble eating, drinking and moving their mouth around.
It’s important to take your dog for regular dental checkups, especially if they are getting older or known to chew on things they shouldn’t, as they will be able to spot any problems early and treat them before they cause issues for your doggo.
Medication side effects can cause congestion
If your dog takes medicine, it’s worth checking the side effects to see if one of them is congestion. Some medications, such as those for allergies or colds, can cause your dog to sound congested. This can happen because the medication dries out their nose or throat, or because it irritates their airway.
If you have suspicions that your dog’s medication could be causing the congestion, it’s important to not stop it without speaking to your vet first, as this could cause more serious problems. Always get an expert’s opinion first before stopping any type of medication.
Obese dogs are more likely to develop congestion
Weight gain is the culprit for many health problems in dogs and humans, including congestion. This is because obese dogs are more likely to have fatty deposits in their throat and neck which can block their airway.
Allergies can make your dog feel congested
One of the most common causes of congestion in dogs is allergies. If your dog is allergic to something in its environment, it may start to sneeze and have a runny nose. According to the Mayo Clinic, this can lead to congestion and make it difficult for them to breathe.
Other symptoms of allergies in dogs include itchy skin, red eyes, and paw licking. If you think that your dog’s congestion is caused by allergies, it’s important to talk to your vet. They may recommend a change in diet or medication to help relieve your dog’s symptoms.
If needed, the veterinarian can recommend a test to find out what your dog is allergic to. This will help you avoid the allergen in the future and keep your dog from getting congested again.
Colds can cause congestion in dogs
Just like humans, dogs can catch colds from time to time. This will make their congestion worse and is usually coupled with body aches and a sore throat. Colds in dogs are caused by viruses, and sometimes bacteria, and are highly contagious. If your dog is sneezing a lot and is experiencing congestion, it’s possible they have a cold.
If you think that your dog has a cold then it’s important to take them to the vet as soon as possible. They will be able to give them a check-over to see what’s wrong and recommend the best course of treatment. In most cases, dogs with colds will recover on their own but your vet may prescribe medication to help relieve their congestion symptoms.
Sinus infections can be a common cause of congestion in dogs
Dogs are able to develop sinus infections that will result in congestion. These infections usually occur when the sinuses become inflamed or irritated. The most common symptoms of a sinus infection in dogs are a runny nose, sneezing, and finally, congestion. If your dog is experiencing these symptoms then it’s possible they have a sinus infection (2, 3)
You can help relieve these symptoms by using a humidifier in your dog’s environment and by applying warm compresses to their face. However, it’s important to take them to the vet as well if you think they have a sinus infection. The vet will be able to prescribe the appropriate medication to help clear up the infection.
In serious cases, if your dog is congested, it could be a sign of heart failure. Heart failure causes congestion because the heart is unable to pump blood as efficiently, which leads to fluid buildup in the lungs and this will impact their ability to breathe.
If your dog is experiencing any of the following symptoms along with its congestion, then please seek medical attention as soon as possible.
- Struggling to breathe
- Looks exhausted
- Has fainted
- Increased heart rate
- Swollen belly due to the build-up of fluid in the lungs
- Refusal to exercise or eat
Heart failure is a serious condition and requires immediate medical attention, so if there are any signs or doubts, you should speak to a veterinarian.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
In extreme cases, if your dog’s congestion is chronic and doesn’t seem to be going away, it could be a sign of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). This is a serious lung disease that’s caused by long-term exposure to irritants, like cigarette smoke. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, it’s a non-reversible condition and is often slowly progressive.
Dogs with COPD will have a hard time breathing, and their congestion will be accompanied by coughing and wheezing. Other symptoms of dogs with COPD include:
- Shortness of breath
- Exercise intolerance
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Blue tint to the skin due to lack
If your dog develops re-occurring congestion or always seems to be congested with no periods of downtime, then it’s important to take them to the vet. They will be able to determine if your dog has COPD and recommend the best course of treatment to help improve the quality of their life.
Even though this condition is considered progressive and chronic, there are treatments that can help manage the condition.
What can I give my dog for nasal congestion?
If any dog is experiencing symptoms of congestion, you should take them to a veterinarian. However, there are a couple of home remedies to help relieve their symptoms in the short term.
Here are some home remedies that can be used to help relieve symptoms of congestion in dogs:
Humidifier for congested dogs
A humidifier will help add moisture to the air, which can help loosen up your dog’s congestion. These can be found online such as on Amazon or at your local shopping centres. They are an affordable solution that can help your dog feel more comfortable.
It’s important to clean the humidifier according to the manufacturer’s instructions to prevent the growth of bacteria and mould. As this could further worsen your dog’s congestion symptoms if it’s not cleaned, so they can be a double-edged sword! But in most cases, they are a helpful tool.
Warm compress for a dog’s congested nose
You can also apply warm compresses to your dog’s face, which can help soothe their congestion. Simply wet a clean cloth with warm water and apply it to your dog’s face for a few minutes. You can do this a couple of times a day as and when needed.
Don’t use hot water as this could burn your dog’s skin. And make sure the compress is not too wet as you don’t want to make their congestion worse.
Saltwater rinse for dogs with a congested nose
You can also make a saltwater solution at home to help rinse your dog’s sinuses. This will help remove any irritants that could be causing their congestion. To make the solution, mix ½ teaspoon of salt with 16 ounces of warm water.
Use a clean syringe or eyedropper to insert the solution into one nostril while your dog’s head is tilted. Once done, allow it to drain out of their other nostril. Repeat this process a few times per day until your dog’s congestion clears up.
While these home remedies can help, it’s always best to speak to a veterinarian first as they will be able to give you specific advice for your dog’s individual case. And if the congestion is severe, then it’s best to seek professional medical help.
Conclusion: Why does my dog sound congested?
Congestion in dogs is something to not usually worry about and is often just due to a minor cold or allergies. However, if your dog’s congestion is severe or re-occurring, it could be a sign of something more serious like COPD.
You should always take your dog to a veterinarian to get a professional opinion and to rule out any serious health concerns. But in the meantime, there are some home remedies that can help your dog feel more comfortable!