Golden Retrievers are some of the most popular family dogs in the world, treasured for their playfulness and good natures. Like all dogs, they can run into health issues at any stage of their life. One of these issues is snoring, which can be either harmless, or a symptom of an underlying health issues. Which begs the question: Is it normal for Golden Retrievers to snore?
Like most animals, it is completely normal for a Golden Retriever to snore. However, you will want to take your dog to the vet if you suspect their snoring is caused by abnormal factors such as obesity, illness, infection, physical obstructions, allergies, medications, nasal tumors, or sleep apnea.
In this article, I’ll cover all the reasons why your Golden Retriever could be snoring. I’ll explain the difference between normal and abnormal snoring and what you can do to stop it. So, let’s get started!
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Why Do Golden Retrievers Snore?
As a breed, Golden Retrievers, due to the shape of their snout, are not genetically inclined to snore as some other breeds are (like a Pug or a Bulldog). Therefore, snoring in these dogs can usually be explained by environmental or health factors.
The common reasons for snoring in Golden Retrievers are:
- Relaxed throat muscles
- Swelling of throat/mouth tissue
- Fat deposits around the throat
Relaxed throat muscles can come from completely normal causes like a scrunched up sleeping position, or abnormal factors like medications.
The swelling of throat and mouth tissue usually comes from illness or infection, allergies, or physical obstructions.
Fat deposits around a Golden’s throat are usually caused by obesity. We’ll go through each of the causes of snoring in Golden Retrievers and show you which are normal and which aren’t.
Obesity is one of the main contributors to snoring in Golden Retrievers.
Excess weight causes snoring because the fat is often stored around the throat, which obstructs proper breathing.
A 2012 survey by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention found that more than 62% of Golden Retrievers in the US were overweight or obese. This makes them more susceptible to snoring than many other dog breeds.
Even just a little excess weight can accumulate and restrict a Golden Retriever’s breathing while they sleep, resulting in snoring. The risk becomes a lot higher, the more obese the dog becomes.
If you suspect that your Golden Retriever might be overweight or even obese, you can test by doing a visual check and feeling for their ribs.
How to Check Your Golden Retriever for Obesity
- Stand above your dog and look down. You should be able to see a defined waist and straight sides.
- Place your hands on your Golden’s ribcage. Without applying much pressure, you should be able to feel the outline of their ribs.
- Look at your dog side on. There should be a visible tuck at their abdomen, and it should sit higher than their chest.
If your Golden Retriever doesn’t fit the criteria above, then they are overweight or obese. You can also weigh them at the vet’s office to double check against their breed standard weight.
Illness or Infection
Just as with humans, respiratory infections like kennel cough or the flu can cause snoring in dogs.
Kennel cough is a common respiratory tract infection from bacteria. It is highly contagious and spreads between dogs when they breathe in the infected particles.
Kennel cough has the following symptoms:
- Strong, persistent cough
- Clear discharge from the nose
- Eye discharge
Kennel cough, as well as other respiratory infections, can cause laryngitis. This is an inflammation of the larynx, which sits at the top of the throat. Once the larynx tissues are infected, their mucous membranes swell and fill with fluid to fight infection. This swelling makes it difficult for air to pass, causing snoring while the dog sleeps.
If your Golden Retriever’s snoring is accompanied by the above symptoms and has been in recent contact with unknown dogs, then it could be the cause.
If your Golden loves to explore with their nose, then the culprit for their snoring could be a simple physical obstruction.
Dogs can easily get grass or seeds stuck inside their nostrils, which then swell and prevent proper breathing.
You can easily check if there is obstruction by inspecting your dog’s nasal cavities. If there appears to be swelling or discharge, then there could be something stuck inside.
Allergic reactions in Golden Retrievers can cause snoring by creating an immune response that swells the tissue in their respiratory tract.
Other symptoms of an allergic reaction in dogs include:
- Itchy skin and scratching
- Redness and infection in the ears
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Itchy eyes
- Nasal discharge
A 2015 study in the Clinical and Translational Allergy journal found that Golden Retrievers are in the top 19 of dog breeds that are most likely to be affected by pollen allergies. Pollen can be found in grasses, trees, and weeds, and is usually seasonal.
Pollen allergies in Golden Retrievers often affect their skin, with inflamed and itchy patches, but it can also cause rhinitis. This is an inflammation of the mucous membrane in the nose, which can restrict breathing and cause snoring.
Golden Retrievers can also be allergic to:
- Dust and dust mites
If you notice that your Golden Retriever is snoring and has other symptoms of an allergic reaction, you may need to seek treatment for their allergies.
Some medications can cause snoring by relaxing the muscles of the throat. These include painkillers and muscle relaxants.
If your Golden Retriever has recently had surgery or is on medications to manage chronic pain, then it’s possible that their pills are part of the problem.
In severe cases, snoring could be a symptom of nasal cancer. The tumors cause a physical block that makes it more difficult for your dog to breathe while asleep and awake.
Other symptoms of nasal cancer include:
- Trouble breathing while awake
- Nasal discharge with blood and/or mucus
- Visible discomfort and face rubbing
- Facial swelling
- Sudden weight loss or gain
- Wounds that don’t heal
If your Golden is showing any of these symptoms, it’s important to go to a vet as soon as possible for diagnosis.
Your Golden Retriever’s snoring could come from something as simple as their sleeping position.
Sometimes dogs like to sleep lying on their back, which naturally obstructs their airflow. Their tongue drops towards the roof of their mouth and prevents the usual amount of air from moving in and out of the throat.
If your Golden has no issues with snoring when they’re sleeping on their front or side, then it’s probably just the sleep position that is causing the issue.
What Is Normal Snoring?
If your Golden Retriever has always snored, there’s probably nothing to worry about. If they’re breathing normally while awake and seem to be well-rested and energetic, then their snoring is likely not affecting their quality of life.
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What Isn’t Normal Snoring?
If your dog has never snored before but has suddenly started, it could be a sign that there is an underlying issue that needs attention.
Furthermore, if they have any of the inflammation or infection symptoms, you should seek treatment for their snoring.
Additionally, if your Golden Retriever has any of the sleep apnea symptoms, you should consult a vet for treatment as soon as possible.
Sleep apnea is a more severe form of snoring that can have a bigger negative impact on your Golden retriever’s health.
The symptoms of sleep apnea in dogs are:
- Loud, continual snoring
- Intermittent choking and/or gasping
- Bad mood while awake
- Loss of breath
- Being prone to accidents
Similar factors can cause sleep apnea the same as regular snoring, including obesity, allergies, and physical obstructions in the throat.
The apnea forms when the dog falls asleep, and the throat relaxes, allowing the soft tissue to drop and block the airways.
The dog’s breathing can be interrupted from 10-20 seconds at a time. When they resume usual breathing, it will usually be with audible gasping that might wake you up.
It will sound different from regular snoring because there will be multiple times when your Golden Retriever simply stops breathing.
Can Snoring Be Dangerous?
Golden Retriever snoring can be dangerous in the long-term because of the continual oxygen reduction in their blood.
This means that your Golden may not be able to handle high-intensity exercise or hot weather as easily, which can be dangerous in the summer.
Furthermore, if the snoring is a symptom of sleep apnea, then the consequences can be more severe. Untreated sleep apnea can cause long-term health complications like chronic sleep deprivation, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, obesity, and hypertension.
How to Prevent Golden Retriever Snoring
Because Golden Retriever snoring can usually be attributed to obesity, the simplest way to avoid it happening is to keep your Golden at a healthy weight.
There are various steps that you can take to help your dog lose excess weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Feed a Balanced Diet
One of the easiest ways to help your Golden maintain a healthy weight is by feeding them high-quality food.
Golden Retriever food should include:
- No chemical preservatives
- Animal protein like lamb, chicken, or turkey
- No animal digest content
- No sugars, artificial colors, or flavors
Golden Retrievers are a medium-large dog breed and are more susceptible to diseases like:
- Hip/elbow dysplasia
- Skin allergies
As such, it’s important to choose a food that supports your Golden Retriever’s bones and won’t provoke allergic reactions.
Like many vets, we recommend Purina Pro Plan, which is developed for large breed dogs with sensitive skin and stomachs.
It’s also important to monitor how much food your Golden is eating. Most adult Goldens can eat 2 cups of food a day. You should always measure out portions for your dog, rather than allowing them to eat as much as they want.
However, if your dog needs to lose weight, you can reduce their intake by ⅓ of a cup and supplement with green beans or pumpkin. These vegetables can fill your dog’s stomach without adding too many calories.
While treats are great for training purposes, they are often high calorie and can stack on the weight. Limit the number of treats or choose healthier alternatives.
Some healthy natural treats to add to your Golden’s diet include:
- Brussel sprouts (cooked)
- Carrots (raw or cooked)
- Green beans (cooked or fresh)
- Pumpkin (canned)
- Spinach (cooked)
- Sweet potatoes (steamed or boiled)
Give Sufficient Exercise
Golden Retrievers are extremely intelligent and high energy. Therefore, you’ll need to provide sufficient exercise and stimulation to keep your dog fit and healthy.
It’s recommended to exercise your Golden for at least 2 hours every day. However, if your Golden is already overweight or obese, you may need to start slowly and increase exercise over time.
This should include different variations of exercise like:
- Playing fetch
- Playing with other dogs
You should divide exercise between a few shorter sessions a day and vary the kinds of exercise so that your dog doesn’t become bored.
Avoid Early Spaying/Neutering
A 2019 study found that spaying/neutering large breed dogs too early increases their risk of obesity.
The Golden Retriever Lifetime Study has been collecting data for the last six years from 3000 different Golden Retrievers across the US. They found that spaying or neutering at an earlier age is riskier.
Likelihood of Developing Obesity
|Age at Spay/Neuter||Percentage of Adults that Are Overweight|
|Under 6 months||41%|
|More than 1 year||30%|
If you have not yet spayed or neutered your Golden, you could consider waiting for more than a year or leaving them intact to reduce the likelihood of obesity.
Change Their Sleeping Position
If your Golden Retriever only snores in some positions, then you can make changes to stop it from happening.
You can use a pillow to elevate your dog’s head while he sleeps. You can also buy a round-shaped bed that expands the airflow through your Golden’s throat.
Encouraging your Golden to sleep on their side is also a good solution for their snoring.
If allergies are the culprit of snoring, then there are various things you can do to alleviate the symptoms for your Golden.
Common treatments for allergies include:
- Reducing exposure to allergens is the simplest cure for an allergic reaction in your dog. In this approach, you would keep your dog away from parks and other places where they are picking up the allergen. However, it isn’t always the most practical. You still need to exercise your Golden Retriever, so you won’t be able to completely eliminate exposure.
- Anti-inflammatory therapy involves giving medications to your dog that reduce the allergic response. These can include corticosteroids or antihistamines, which reduce symptoms of itchiness and irritation. These drugs can be very effective, but you’ll need to continually give them to your dog to reduce their allergic reactions.
- Desensitization therapy means exposing your Golden Retriever to their allergen to reduce their immune response. This usually involves allergy shots, where a vet injects small amounts of the allergen over a long period of time. This therapy has been shown to reduce the severity of allergic reactions in approximately 50% of dogs.
Treat Nasal Tumors
If cancerous nasal tumors are causing the Golden Retriever snoring, then you should quickly take action.
Nasal cancer can be treated with the following procedures:
- Radiation therapy
- Stereotactic radiation
Both kinds of therapy use radiation to treat tumors of a series of several sessions. Receiving treatment as soon as possible is important to maximize the effectiveness of treatment.
Treat Sleep Apnea
If your Golden Retriever’s snoring is actually a cause of sleep apnea, then it is a more pressing issue to solve.
You can relieve symptoms for your dog by using a humidifier to add moisture to the air. This can move more easily through their respiratory tract and may relieve some discomfort.
However, if you want to cure the condition, your Golden Retriever will need to undergo surgery.
Common procedures to treat sleep apnea in dogs include:
- Maxillofacial surgery
- Nasal palatopharyngeal surgery
- Upper airway surgery
Go to the Vet
If you still have doubts about the origins of your Golden Retriever’s snoring, or you’re looking for more advice, then it is always advisable to make an appointment with your vet. They can evaluate your Golden and provide specific advice to reduce or eliminate the snoring.
Most Golden Retrievers snore at one point or another, but you may start to feel concerned if it’s becoming a recurring problem.
We’ve covered all the reasons why your Golden Retriever might be snoring, as well as what you can do to fix it. We’ve also distinguished between normal and abnormal snoring, so you’ll know when it’s time to go to the vet.
Armed with this knowledge, we’re sure that you and your furry friend will be getting a better night’s sleep in no time. Hopefully, this article has given you some helpful ideas on taking care of your Golden Retriever’s health.
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