Does Your Dog Have Sleep Apnea (Causes & Symptoms)

Sleep Apnea in Dogs

Sleep apnea is currently troubling the sleep of almost a billion people across the globe (yes, that’s a billion with a B). It can make your nights frightening, when you wake up in the middle of the night to desperately gasp for air. 

It’s something we’d never wish on our furry friends, but can they suffer from sleep apnea, too? Unfortunately, the answer is yes. 

Sleep apnea can sometimes be mild and only slightly disrupt the sleep of your dog, but it shouldn’t be ignored, as it can become severe and  put them at risk of serious health problems, possibly even leading up to death.  

So, now that we know dogs can suffer from sleep apnea, how do you know if your dog has it? What are the causes of sleep apnea in dogs? And How can you indicate sleep apnea in yours? 

Keep reading to find out…

What Is Dog Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea, which is a result of breathing problems, is more common among humans than animals. But the sleeping disorder can also be found in other animals, like dogs and cats, so your pets might have it, too! Sleep apnea causes them to suddenly stop breathing at night, which can wake them up in the middle of the night to gasp for air. 

Although it might seem normal, sleep apnea can pose a serious threat to your dog and lead to unpleasant consequences if not treated. It’s important to consult your vet if you think your furry friend is suffering from sleep apnea to get the full insight about the situation. 

Main Causes of Sleep Apnea in Dogs

Sleeping apnea in dogs is very similar to how it is in humans — they both have similar causes and symptoms, with few differences. If you want to treat your poor pup from their sleep apnea, you have to first know the main causes of the disorder… 


Achoo! One of the main reasons your pooch can be suffering from apnea is allergies (whether food, seasonal , skin, or environmental toxins allergies), which can all cause obstructions in the snout and throat of your dog and block their breathing at night. 

This situation is quite easy to fix, as you already know how to help your dog. If you can treat them yourself from the allergy, great. But if you’re not sure about their conditions, take your furry friend to a vet visit for the best advice and treatment. 


Similar to humans, obesity in dogs can be a direct cause of sleep apnea. Obese dogs can develop a fat buildup around their neck, which can prevent proper breathing while sleeping, or even stop breathing altogether. 

Being an overweight or obese dog usually means that they suffer from other health issues. You should take active steps to help your pup loses some of their unhealthy weight to keep bad health at bay. 


Short nose is also a factor for sleep apnea in dogs. Certain dog breeds can suffer from apnea as they’re naturally born with brachycephalic – simply, short – noses, like English bulldogs, French bulldogs, Pugs, and Boston terriers.These breeds are more prone to obstructive breathing due to their head shape.

Brachycephalic is a condition that many dogs are born with, as in the breeds mentioned above, and this condition is passed down through generations of dogs in the same breed.

This problem in dogs can’t be fixed without surgery. It doesn’t indicate that your dog wasn’t bred well, but it’s a problem that affects entire gene pools, so entire breeds all have the same problem.

You’ll find that these dogs are often associated with breathing problems that cause them to snore loudly in their sleep, so a good idea would be to talk to your veterinarian about it.

Common Symptoms of Dog Sleep Apnea

Though sleep apnea isn’t easy to diagnose without the help of your vet, there are some signs that indicate it. 

When in doubt about whether little Fido has sleep apnea or not, these are the main symptoms you should look out for: loud or frequent snoring, choking or gasping during sleep, irritability, fatigue, and frequent napping. Some of these signs, though, can be normal behavior of dogs, which makes it tricky to figure out about their apnea. 

If your dog has sleep apnea, they will tend to stop breathing and wake up frequently. This usually happens at night, preventing your dog from entering the REM phase of sleep, meaning that they’re not getting enough rest to be a normal, healthy pup.

Dogs with sleep disorders find it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep, which largely affects both their physical and mental health. If you notice that your dog snores often and seems always tired, this can indicate a serious problem like sleep apnea, and that needs a vet consultation. 

If your pooch is restless at night, don’t jump straight to the conclusion that your dog has sleep apnea, it can sometimes be a simple problem like needing a more comfortable bed.

Bottom Line

When it comes to sleeping disorders, dogs can be just like us, they also require a comfortable sleeping environment, and they can suffer from insomnia, REM behavior disorder, and sleep apnea. 

These disorders, particularly sleep apnea, should be taken very seriously, as they put your pooch at risk of serious health issues, and in some cases, these issues can lead to death. That’s why it’s important to keep an eye on your dog when you notice some symptoms like loud snoring, choking and gasping while sleeping, fatigue, too many naps, and irritability. 

Typically, dog sleep apnea is caused by allergies, obesity, and obstructions caused by  brachycephaly. Once you know the cause from your vet, the solution becomes easier. Just like us, our loyal, four-legged friends deserve a good night’s sleep!



Dan was diagnosed with sleep apnea in 2017 when he was only 32 years old. He has been using a BIPAP machine for his treatment. He hopes to provide a patient's perspective on the sleep apnea experience. Dan lives in Tampa with his girlfriend and 2 dogs.

Recent Posts