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Have you noticed your dog suddenly becoming congested? Nobody likes to see their furry best friend coughing, sneezing, or wheezing, and you can bet your dog is entirely miserable. But what if your dog has always sounded congested? What is the cause of congestion in dogs, and is it ever considered “normal?” Let’s look at the ten main reasons your dog sounds congested when breathing.
Yes – and no. Let us explain. Brachycephalic dogs, otherwise known as flat-faced breeds, have more difficulty breathing due to their shortened snouts. The French bulldog, Boston terrier, and pug are among the most well-known brachycephalic breeds, and 24 breeds total have brachycephalic conformation.
These breeds commonly experience airway obstruction due to their physical “deformities,” and you will often hear a brachycephalic pup snorting, snoring, or breathing through their mouths. These breathing issues are often pronounced with exercise and become more evident as your dog ages.
While this type of congestion in dogs is considered normal for certain breeds, their physical features can lead to severe issues such as nasal stenosis and laryngeal collapse, both of which require surgery.
10 Reasons Your Dog Sounds Congested When Breathing
While being a brachycephalic breed is reason number one why your dog may be experiencing congested breathing, there are several reasons why other breeds can become wheezy, stuffed up, and develop a cough. Here are the most common causes:
If your furry friend’s congestion has suddenly come on, then a foreign object may be in their nose. A foreign body in your dog’s nose is dangerous and can lead to severe discomfort and health problems if not quickly resolved. This cause of the congestion can be obvious, as you’ll witness your dog violently sneezing at first and potentially rubbing its nose with its paw.
If the foreign body is left in your dog’s nose for days, you may notice that your dog has a stuffy nose accompanied by a thick, sometimes bloody discharge build-up. You may be able to see the leaf, wood chip, piece of grass, or whatever your pup has managed to get up their nose protruding out of their nostril. In that case, gently remove it with tweezers. If you cannot see or are uncomfortable removing the obstruction, have a veterinarian examine your dog and remove the object. They may need to sedate your pup if the foreign body is far up its nostril and will provide the best follow-up treatment.
If you’ve never had a dog with allergies, you may not know that dogs can develop allergies, just like humans! Dogs and humans can share many of the same allergies, including allergies to several environmental substances. These include grass, pollen, dust mites, and more. Your pup may even be intolerant to cigarette smoke, certain types of medicine, or chemicals used in cleaning.
Not only can congestion be a symptom of allergies in dogs, but they may also experience itchiness, runny eyes, inflamed skin, diarrhea, vomiting, and constant licking, among other symptoms.
3. Respiratory Infections
If your pup suddenly becomes congested, you are most likely dealing with a respiratory infection. A viral infection is the most likely cause of sudden congestion or sinusitis in your dog, and congestion is the result of inflammation and excess mucus. . Several common respiratory infections and conditions develop in dogs, including kennel cough, pneumonia, dog flu, rhinitis, chronic bronchitis, and tracheal collapse. Schedule a vet appointment immediately if you suspect your dog has a respiratory infection. Many of these conditions must be treated as soon as possible to avoid serious health consequences.
While nobody wants to admit their dog needs to lose some weight, obesity could be what’s causing your dog’s congestion. Sadly, your dog’s breathing quality may be affected by the extra pounds he carries, as unnecessary weight can put pressure on their heart and lungs.
While age alone could be causing your furry friend to sound congested due to weakened cartilage in the airways, this is sadly not the only reason why this may occur. Heart disease is most common in older dogs, which may cause congestion and wheezing. Your older dog may find physical activity difficult as a result or is experiencing difficulty breathing due to lethargy.
6. Sleeping Position
Have you noticed that your dog only seems to sound congested when sleeping? Lying awkwardly can cause a slight obstruction in their airway, making them sound congested and increasing their likelihood of snoring.
7. Air Quality
The air quality in your home could be causing congestion in your pup and, unsurprisingly, yourself. You may have a mold problem in your home that you’re entirely unaware of, and these fungal spores can cause congestion in animals and humans. This can result in fungal infection, with your dog sounding congested for even weeks or months at a time.
Has your dog recently been sedated due to a medical procedure or surgery? Don’t be surprised if they’re congested for a day or two afterward. Sedation relaxes your furry friend’s muscles, which slightly narrows the airway. Plus, your dog will be a little more sluggish than usual.
Sadly, several types of tumors, both benign and cancerous, may cause congestion in dogs due to upper airway disease. These are primary tracheal tumors and will need to be removed to clear the obstruction in the airway.
How you can help your dog’s congested breathing largely depends on its cause, but treating your dog with some extra TLC can help ease their symptoms while they recover. A humidifier can help reduce inflammation and release congestion, as can the steam from a hot shower. Of course, you shouldn’t put your dog in the hot shower, but you can enjoy one while your pup reaps the benefits of the warm steam! When using a humidifier, remember not to add any essential oils, as they may be toxic to animals.
Getting to the route of your dog’s congestion is essential to provide the best care possible for them. While it could result from something as minor as a doggy head cold, it could also be more serious. Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian if you’re unsure, and shower your pup with additional love and care while they recover.
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