Do Dogs Have Sleep Apnea? What to Do if My Dog Experiences it?


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Surprisingly, dogs share some disorders that humans experience. But do dogs have sleep apnea? This condition is prevalent among humans, but if your doggo is lethargic and sleepy during the day, you may want to check with the vet.

Dogs can also have sleep disorders. Like their hoomans, they can also find it hard to sleep or they tend to become too sleepy during the day. Still, there are some breeds that are more of a couch potato than others.

But sleep apnea? It may sound crazy, but yes, your pooch may have this condition. If he snores too loud, it might be a sign of a more serious problem you need to fix. A dog sleep apnea machine could be an option.

Common sleeping disorders among dogs

Sleep apnea isn’t the only sleeping problem your dog may have. Like humans, they can experience a slew of slumber problems from time to time. Some can be acquired while others can be the result of some physiological abnormalities in their bodies.

Like us, it’s important that dogs get enough sleep. If not, they will be lethargic and will lack the zest to exercise. This may lead to other health concerns if not addressed early on.

So to help you with the diagnosis, here are some of the possible sleep problems your dog may have aside from apnea:


This condition is characterized by a strong – usually uncontrolled – urge to sleep. This is a genetic disorder which causes the pups to have very low levels of hypocretin. This hormone is also known as ‘orexin’ and is responsible for promoting wakefulness.

If not managed right away, adult dogs may still carry the narcoleptic tendencies. Take note that narcolepsy isn’t curable but the attacks can be lessened by reducing over-excitability and other triggers.

As many noticed, dogs tend to fall in a sudden sleep after a fit of anxiety and other strong emotions. The same goes for humans experiencing narcolepsy.

Meet Skeeter, the dog with extreme narcolepsy:


Is your doggo wide awake at night? Insomnia can also be a canine problem. There are many possible reasons behind the inability to sleep. Your doggo might be experiencing joint pain due to arthritis and injuries which prevents it from falling asleep.

The likes of kidney disease, diabetes, and allergies can cause your dog to skip sleep.

Dogs with anxiety and stress may also be wide awake at night. If your pet has cognitive disorders, it’s possible that the pooch will experience insomnia.

The good news is that most cases of insomnia can be treated by your vet. If the problem lingers, the vet can prescribe a melatonin supplement for dogs.

REM Behavior Disorder

Have you seen your dog zooming in on his sleep? If your pet is treading, twitching, or barking on his sleep, the pooch might be experiencing REM Behavior Disorder. Some dogs would even ‘sleepwalk’ or run to walls. This is easy to treat but take note that the sleepwalking part will be dangerous for your pooch.

The uncontrolled behavior will put your doggo at risk of falling, bumping, and getting hurt along the way.

If you notice other weird behavior while your dog is asleep, don’t hesitate to phone a veterinarian. There might be other conditions that are compromising your pooch’s quality of sleep.

What is sleep apnea in dogs?

Do dogs have sleep apnea? Sleep apnea is a condition where the individual stops breathing multiple times during sleep. The same goes for dogs experiencing the condition. When the breathing stops, the brain and other parts of the body will run out of oxygen.

Sleep apnea is a life-threatening condition that should be treated right away. In humans, some would be awakened in the middle of their sleep with a massive headache. Worse, some may die in their sleep. This is no different when it comes to canines.

Flat-nosed and stocky breed like Bulldogs, Pugs, and Terriers are at a higher risk. When the breathing stops, the airway will collapse which will jolt the doggo awake. The repeated cycle will cause them to have a poor night’s sleep.

This is the same reason why humans with sleep apnea tend to be sleepy during daytime.

Take note that sleep apnea can be a standalone condition or a complication of another health issue. If your dog snores loudly, you should consult a vet. Also, don’t use a dog sleep apnea machine unless prescribed.

Here’s a video of a doggo experiencing sleep apnea:

What causes sleep apnea in canines?

There are many possible causes of sleep apnea among dogs. But no matter what the culprit is, treatment is imperative for all cases. The longer the sleep apnea lingers the more dangerous it becomes for your pooch.

If you’re wondering what causes this condition, here are some of the usual reasons:

Predisposed conditions

Like what was mentioned earlier, dogs with flat noses are prone to sleep apnea due to the structure of their airway. Also, breeds known as loud snorers have the predisposed risk to sleep apnea. This includes Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Shih Tzu, French Bulldog, Boston Terrier, and the likes.

Basically, dog breeds that are known to snore loud have a higher susceptibility compared to doggos who don’t. Still, if your pooch is quietly sleeping, it doesn’t mean they’re off the hook from the condition. You should always take the time to check and observe your pooch.


Do dogs have sleep apnea if it’s plump? Due to the excessive fat build up around the throat, sleeping dogs may find it hard to breathe. When breathing difficulties linger, the dog may stop breathing at some point in his sleep. This is where the condition becomes life-threatening.

Aside from the direct effect of excess weight to breathing, other underlying conditions may affect your canine’s health. With this, weight loss will be a big help not just in avoiding apnea but in dodging other dangerous health conditions as well.


Food allergies can directly impact your dog’s airway and snout. Any obstructions like swelling can cause breathing difficulties which can compromise your dog’s sleep.

Allergies can also be triggered by bee stings. If your doggo got stung in the neck or face area, send him to the vet right away to stop the inflammation. Letting the pooch sleep with a swollen neck, snout, and mouth can be highly dangerous. This is especially true if your pooch got multiple stings.

Other underlying conditions can cause sleep apnea in dogs. The key here is to subject your pooch to regular check-ups in the vet’s clinic. This way, the animal doctor can spot any diseases or problems in your pet’s body.

Signs your dog has sleep apnea

A lot of dog owners dismiss snoring as a cute behavior of their dog. However, if the snoring is becoming very loud and recurring, you should be concerned with the situation. Your dog may have sleep apnea and other health issues.

It can be tricky to spot sleep apnea. But with a proper diagnosis from a veterinarian, you can prevent this condition from becoming.

For starters, here are the common signs that your pooch has sleep apnea:


Irritability during the day

Constant naps during the day

Extreme fatigue even after waking up

Choking or gasping in the midst of snoring

It can be difficult to identify if your pooch indeed has sleep apnea. If you observe these symptoms, it’s best to ask the help of a veterinarian to confirm your speculations.

Some dogs with prolonged sleep apnea may find it hard to fall asleep or stay asleep. This is the reason why they may take constant naps during the day.

On the other hand, irritability is the result of their fatigue. When your doggo sleeps during the day, try observing it to check if he has the symptoms.

Do dogs have sleep apnea? Just take note that just because your doggo is tossing and turning during the night doesn’t mean he already has sleep apnea. Consider what you fed the pooch. Does it have caffeine? Lots of sugar? Any energy-pumping substance?

Aside from that, check if your doggos’ bed is comfy. Arthritic dogs may need better support. If not, they may fail to sleep soundly at night which will cause frequent naps during the day.

do dogs have sleep apnea

Diagnosis of sleep apnea in dogs

Veterinarians will use various diagnostic tools to determine if your pooch has the dreaded sleeping problem. First, an imaging test will identify if your dog has any obstruction or tumor that causes the difficulty of breathing.

If the dog has no abnormal growth, the vet will check its blood and blood sugar levels. Any spike or spiral can be a cause of sleep disruption.

In case your dog has a clean bill of health, you may want to check the indoor air quality of your home. Is it too dry for your flat-nosed pooch? If the snoring happens during the hot summer months, you may try to let your doggo sleep in an air-conditioned room. If the snoring stops, your dog may not have any health problem at all.

The bad effects of poor sleep

Like humans, dogs need enough sleep to stay healthy and happy. The quality and duration of your pooch’s sleep will impact its behavior and health. Studies found that dogs with poor sleeping habits can have accumulated amounts of stress hormones. Such a condition can lead to aggression and negative behavior despite intensive training.

Puppies need at least 12 hours of sleep per day while adult doggos should sleep for 14 hours. For large breeds, sleep is more demanding for up to 18 hours a day. Meanwhile, senior canines have to take restful slumber for more than 18 hours a day depending on their health condition.

The size, age, and health condition of your pooch will dictate the amount of sleep it needs per day. Most adult dogs will take a nap after a walk in the park. Like cats, dogs have to take naps during the day. However, it shouldn’t be too much.

Aside from the quality of sleep, you should also ensure that your pooch has a comfy bed. Dogs with skeletal problems need more support to make sure that they get enough rest.

If your doggo doesn’t have any health issue, you can help him have a good night’s sleep by taking him to a brisk 30-minute walk before bedtime and an hour after eating dinner.

Treatment of dog sleep apnea

If the cause of sleep apnea is excess weight, the veterinarian will surely recommend that you come up with a plan that will reduce your dog’s weight. You may need to give him more exercise or monitor the dog’s diet even more. The goal is to reduce as many obstructions present in your pet’s airway.

For flat-nosed dogs with structural abnormalities in their bodies, surgery will be the answer. In case the pooch has allergies, the animal doctor will prescribe an antihistamine and other medications.

Dental procedures may also be needed if it impedes comfortable breathing in your dog.

Using a dog sleep apnea machine

For dogs with a very chronic case of sleep apnea, the vet may recommend that you make them wear a CPAP mask during sleep. CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure which is connected to a pump that will supply your doggo with breathing air.

This mask will ensure that your doggo won’t stop breathing in the midst of its sleep. This is also used for humans with chronic obstructive breathing. Just take note that you should only use a machine that’s made for dogs. Also, never improvise or you’ll just compromise your pet’s health.

Still, a dog sleep apnea machine masks aren’t a mainstream option for canines as of this day. A study conducted in 2011 yielded successful results in cats with OSA (obstructive sleep apnea). Still, time will tell if CPAP masks can be used widely for dogs with such sleeping condition.

Do dogs have sleep apnea? Yes, these pooches can experience this sleep problem. As the dog owner, it’s your responsibility to ensure that they will get immediate treatment. If not, sleep apnea may turn into a life-threatening condition.