Why Does My Dog Sound Congested When Sleeping? Here’s How to Help

There are several reasons your dog might sound congested when sleeping. The most common reason is simply that your dog is sleeping in a weird position that is causing congestion. Other reasons include allergies, illness, dental issues, obesity, medication, and nasal obstruction.

You are about to fall asleep when suddenly you hear heavy breathing from your dog. Not only is it heavy, but your dog sounds congested. You wonder whether this is a serious problem or if it’s nothing to worry about it.

Like humans, dogs can get congested, and the main reasons for dog congestion are often the same as humans.

In most cases, dog congestion is nothing to be worried about. However, if you notice it is becoming a long term issue and it seems your dog is starting to have trouble breathing, be sure to schedule an appointment with the vet ASAP.

Below are the reasons why dogs can sound congested when sleeping.

Reasons Why Dogs Sound Congested When Sleeping

Not every reason below will apply to every dog. For example, if your dog is healthy, then obesity obviously isn’t the cause. When reading through the following reasons, ask yourself if that reason could match your dog.

1. Your Dog Has Allergies

Much like humans, dogs can experience seasonal allergies as well as allergies to a specific food. As a result of such allergies, your dog may sound congested while he sleeps. This occurs because things from the environment, such as pollen or food, cause inflammation in your dog’s nose.

Some dogs suffer from seasonal allergies more than others. Although we aren’t sure why some dogs get hit hard, one thing is for sure…allergies can cause severe congestion!

2. Your Dog Chose A Strange Sleeping Position

One of the more harmless causes of congestion in dogs is simply due to the position in which your dog is sleeping.

If you only notice the congested noises when your dog is lying in a particular position, such as when he is on his back, but not at other times, there is nothing to worry about.

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However, if your dog is experiencing congestion in their usual sleeping position, this likely isn’t the case.

3. Your Pup Has a Cold

Something as benign as the common cold can also make it more difficult for your dog to breathe.

Just like when you get a cold and have a runny or stuffy nose, the same thing can happen to your dog.

This will cause him to make funny noises while he sleeps. Typically, with colds, you will also notice other symptoms like sneezing, a runny nose, or a fever.

Colds are usually nothing to worry about and will clear up in a week or two. Until then, do your best to keep Fido comfortable.

One of the best things you can do to stop the congestion from a cold is to change your dog’s position. Sometimes changing the position is all it takes the drain the excess mucus out of the nasal cavity.

4. Dental Issues

Dental problems can cause all sorts of issues with dogs, including congested breathing while sleeping at night.

This could be caused by an abscess under your dog’s tongue, a sore tooth, or an infection inside your dog’s mouth. This is because the airway is connected to your dog’s mouth, so any irritant will affect your dog’s breathing.

When was the last time your dog went in for a dental exam? Does your dog have terrible breath? If so, dental issues could be the cause of congestion.

5. Prescription Medications

Most prescription medications come with several side effects. For example, if your dog is taking a tranquilizer for anxiety, you may notice that your dog sounds very congested when he sleeps.

This is because sleeping medication puts your dog into a much deeper sleep. You may even start to hear snoring.

Make sure you address any new symptoms associated with your dog’s medications jointly with your vet.

6. Gained Extra Weight

Weight is one area that dog owners often forget about. However, just like in humans, extra weight is associated with breathing difficulty.

Excess weight can put pressure on the trachea or even create more tissue that obstructs your dog’s airway.

It’s essential to make sure that you work with your vet to help your dog maintain a healthy weight through diet and exercise to minimize medical risks associated with extra weight.

Remember, all those treats you’re feeding Fido might seem harmless, but many of them are packed with calories!

7. They Were Born That Way

In some cases, the congested sound when your dog breathes is simply how your dog was born. Some dogs, like Boston terriers, tend to have small noses, which can create breathing problems.

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Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do about this. Just try to make them as comfortable as possible and let them get as much sleep as they need. These breeds tend to wake up often throughout the night.

8. A Medical Issue

Congested breathing may be a sign of a severe medical problem. For example, there could be a tumor that makes it difficult for your dog to breathe normally.

Alternatively, there could be too much tissue lining the throat. It is essential to consult with a vet to figure out the best course of treatment.

9. Something Stuck in The Nose

When dogs are running and playing in the yard, they can quickly get something lodged in their nose. It could be something as simple as dirt or debris.

In cases where the foreign object is small, you might not know there is something lodged in your dog’s nose.

One sign that your dog has a nasal obstruction is congested breathing. You can try to inspect your dog’s nose to see if you see the culprit, but if not, take your dog to the vet for a full exam.

What Should I Do If My Dog Sounds Congested While Sleeping?

As a dog owner, it’s natural to look for solutions when you think something might be wrong with your dog. In many cases, congested breathing is a temporary issue that will fix itself.

However, for those who still want to see if they can help, here are a few things you can try.

Allergy Medication

If you feel that the congested breathing is a problem and you notice it more in summer months, consider starting Fido on allergy medication.

Many medications that are used in humans can also be used in dogs. You’ll just need to adjust the dosage to your dog’s weight.

It is best to touch base with your vet before introducing any new medication.

Change Your Dog’s Medications

If your dog is taking prescription medications, consider exploring whether the congested breathing is a side effect of his medication.

If so, you can opt to switch medications to make it easier for your dog to breathe.

Take Your Dog for a Vet Visit

If you are not sure why your dog is breathing strange or if your dog’s congestion seems too problematic, schedule a vet visit to get to the bottom it.

While in some cases it could be a tumor that needs to be addressed, in many cases it could be resolved simply by dislodging a foreign object from your dog’s nose or prescribing medication for a cold.

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Have A Dental Check-Up

Since dental issues can cause a variety of problems, it is important to maintain good dental hygiene for your pup. This involves regular dental visits.

However, if there is a problem, you will need to make a special vet visit. Your vet can obtain X-rays to look for an abscess that might be on your dog’s tongue or mouth.

The checkup will also alert the vet to any other problems that could be causing issues with your dog’s airway or ability to breathe.


In most cases, there is nothing that you need to do if your dog sounds congested. It could be something as simple as your dog chose an odd way of sleeping. In addition, your dog could just be fighting the common cold, in which case your pup will be back to normal in a week or two.

Congestion When Sleeping is Normal

It’s normal for dogs to sound congested when sleeping. Although it could be the symptom of a major medical problem, it’s nothing to worry about in most cases. Still, to ease your mind, you may want to schedule an appointment with your vet. In the meantime, try to make your dog as comfortable as possible until the issue goes away.

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