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Your Guide to Dog Sleep Apnea and How to Help Your Pup

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dog sleep apneaDid you know that dogs can develop sleep apnea?

Our four-legged friends actually behave a lot like us in their sleep. From letting out little murmurs to acting out their dreams, watching your pup sleep can be very entertaining! It’s even common for dogs to snore lightly, although this is much cuter than when your partner does it at three a.m.

But, if your dog is snoring loudly, it could be a sign of dog sleep apnea. This isn’t quite adorable as the light, occasional snores and could become a problem for your pup.

Keep reading to learn more about sleep apnea in dogs, how to spot it, and when to seek help.

Can Dogs Have Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that’s most commonly seen in humans. Unfortunately, your four-legged friend can also suffer from it! Both dogs and cats can develop sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is caused by the repeated stopping and starting of breathing during sleep, leading to your pup waking up frequently as they struggle for air. It can be tricky to spot sleep apnea in dogs if you don’t know the signs. It can have a pretty big toll on your pet if it goes untreated, so it’s vital you get to know what to look for.

Common Causes of Dog Sleep Apnea

As with all sleep apnea, dog sleep apnea can have a variety of causes. Take a look at some of the most common.


Just like us, our pets can suffer from allergies. Your dog could have an allergy that’s leading to breathing problems. This could be from a variety of things, including their type of food or from seasonal allergies that you and I get as well.


If your pup is obese, it’s likely they’ll have a range of underlying health problems, and sleep apnea could be one of them. Obesity can cause fat to buildup in the throat, making breathing harder during sleep.


Obstructive Sleep Apnea in dogs is caused when their nose or throat is naturally obstructed. This is more common in certain breeds, like pugs and bulldogs, where a short snout makes it harder to breathe.

Signs to Look Out For in Dog Sleep Apnea

If you’re wondering “why does my dog stop breathing in his sleep,” it could be down to sleep apnea. Sleep apnea causes frequent stops in regular breathing, where your pet will completely stop breathing for at least a few seconds before suddenly gasping or taking a deep inhale of breath. But, this isn’t the only sign to look out for.

Loud snoring is often a key sign of sleep apnea. If your dog seems extremely fatigued most of the time, is irritable, or is taking more naps than the usual pup snooze, these could also be hinting that they have the condition.

Your dog might also be having trouble sleeping for long periods of time or struggling to fall asleep at all. If you notice your little one is restless at bedtime, this could be a sign. However, a lot of these symptoms can also be completely normal behaviors for dogs, so don’t panic.

If you think your dog might have sleep apnea, the best thing to do is to stay calm and take them to a vet. They can check your dog over properly and provide you with the information you need to help them. This is the same advice if you spot these symptoms in your cat.

How Can You Treat Dog Sleep Apnea?

There are plenty of ways you can help your dog if they have sleep apnea. First of all, you need to identify the cause. If it’s an allergy, treatment can be as simple as helping to get their reaction under control so that they can breathe properly.

If they’re obese, a vet can help you get your canine’s weight under control. A stricter diet and plenty of exercise will help your dog shed excess fat and help them breathe easily again.

If it’s a natural obstruction that’s causing your dog to have sleep apnea, your vet may be able to prescribe medicine to help the problem or perform surgery on the malformed airway. This is the same if your cat has sleep apnea.

Are There CPAP Machines for Dogs?

CPAP machines are a common treatment for humans with sleep apnea. CPAP therapy helps alleviate the problem by delivering oxygen into your airways. The pressurized air is delivered through a mask and a tube that should be worn throughout the night to make sure the symptoms are stopped, and you can get a good night’s sleep.

Unfortunately, CPAP machines aren’t available for your pets yet. Although studies are taking place to see how they could work on dogs and cats, there isn’t a commercially available mask or machine for your furry friends just yet. If your dog is struggling with sleep apnea, your best bet is to take them to the vet for professional treatment.

Help Your Dog to Live a Healthy Life

If your pup has dog sleep apnea, don’t panic! There are plenty of ways it can be treated to get your pup on their way to a peaceful night. Take your dog to the vet, and they’ll be able to diagnose the cause of the problem and how to treat it.

  • Taylor Whitten

    Taylor has seen sleep apnea treatment first-hand and has learned the ins and outs through formal training in CPAP machines, masks, and equipment. She strives to make learning about sleep apnea and sleep apnea therapies a breeze. Interested in sharing your story or have a topic you’d like CPAP.com to investigate? Contact us!

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