Noisy breathing in dogs

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Flat faces, heart conditions, environmental irritants, diseases and parasites are just a few of the reasons that dogs may be noisy breathers. Your dog must be seen by a veterinarian to be diagnosed and treated if he has suddenly started snorting, gagging, wheezing or gurgling.

Some dogs are naturally noisy breathers but if the noise is not normal, he must be examined.


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Brachycephalic dogs have short muzzles and broad skulls and are noisy breathers due to congenital defects. Boston terriers, Pekinese, pugs, bulldogs and Shih Tzus are a few examples of brachycephalic dogs. Stenotic nares, or collapsed nostrils, and elongated soft palates cause these dogs to breathe through their mouths. The elongated soft palate obstructs the airway, causing gurgling, snoring and snorting. Both can be surgically corrected but many brachycephalic dogs never require treatment.

Heart and Lungs

Congestive heart failure, broken or bruised ribs, or punctured lungs can also be attributed to noisy breathing. Fluid around the heart can cause gurgling or raspy sounds. Trauma to the ribs can cause shallow panting. Punctured lungs will produce gasping, shallow breathing or panting. All of these conditions must be treated by a veterinarian immediately. Medication or surgery is available to alleviate symptoms but time might be the only treatment.


Obstructions in your dog's throat or intestines can produce noisy, panicked breathing. Your dog should not be allowed to play with toys that might get stuck in his throat. Never give your dog a treat that will not break down in his stomach if it gets lodged in there. Soak the treat overnight in a bowl of water. If the treat has not changed its shape or consistency by morning, do not give it to your dog. If your dog suddenly starts gagging or vomiting, take her to the veterinarian immediately. Surgery can sometimes remove the obstruction and repair vital organs that were damaged by the object. Prevention is the best treatment.


Pneumonia, cancer, heart disease, asthma, distemper, liver or kidney failure and tumours will affect your dog's breathing. These are just a few of the diseases your dog may get that cause noisy, painful breathing. Take your dog to the veterinarian immediately if you suspect your dog has any of these conditions. Treatment might include medication, surgery and time.


Heartworms, fleas, roundworms, ringworms and ticks are just a few of the parasites that can cause your dog's breathing to become loud and laboured. Preventing your dog from becoming a host to parasites is easier on your dog than treating the illnesses caused by the parasites. Monthly medications can prevent most parasite infestations on your dog. Your veterinarian will advise you as to the best treatment for your area of the country.

Tracheal Collapse

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Yorkshire terriers, chihuahuas, Pomeranians and other small and toy breeds are prone to tracheal collapse as they age. Your dog might start honking, gagging or coughing when trying to breathe. Being predisposed to this condition, do not overfeed your dog because the extra weight will put pressure on the trachea. Allowing your dog to get overly excited can bring on honking, or reverse sneezing, spasms. Keep your dog away from smells that might trigger spasms such as cigarette smoke, perfume, chemicals or other irritants. Always put a harness on your dog when walking him to avoid putting pressure on the trachea. The symptoms of tracheal collapse can sometimes be treated by avoiding situations that would bring on breathing spasms or with medication or surgery.