Noisy Breathing in Dogs

Veterinary reviewed by: Michele K.

Noisy Breathing in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

Veterinary reviewed by: Michele K.

Noisy Breathing in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

What is Noisy Breathing?

When a dog has a noisy breathing problem, we as pet owners, cannot easily dismiss it. Not only is the sound disturbing, the actions of our pets as they deal with uncomfortable breathing is a concern as well. Noisy breathing is described as stertor and stridor. Stertor is an inspiratory snoring or gasp. Stridor is is a raspy, wheezing, or vibrating sound upon inhalation (most common) and exhalation.

Noisy breathing can be an indication of many different medical issues. When a dog has a breathing abnormality, whether acquired or congenital, this means an indication of a respiratory issue, which should be evaluated by a veterinarian.

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Noisy Breathing Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $200 - $4,000

Average Cost

$950

Symptoms of Noisy Breathing in Dogs

Noisy breathing can be displayed in many ways; the causes for why your dog is breathing with a raspy sound can range from mild to serious. Always see your veterinarian for any changes in your pet’s breathing patterns.

  • Open mouth breathing
  • Exercise intolerance
  •  Restlessness
  • Noise upon inhalation, exhalation or both
  • Coughing
  • Snorting
  • Gagging
  • Labored, difficult breathing (dyspnea)
  • You may see movement of the chest
  • The sounds may be heard even at a distance
  • Snoring
  • He may be asymptomatic at rest, and only breathe noisily during exertion, or he may make the noises all of the time
  • Change or loss of bark
  • There may be a nasal discharge
  • He may have blue mucus membranes (cyanosis)

Types 

Abnormal breathing will result when air passes through areas that may be affected with disease or malformation.

Nares and nasal cavity

  • The nose openings, the nasal cavity, and internal nares open to the pharynx

Nasopharynx 

  • Connects the windpipe with pharynx above the soft palate

Pharynx

  • Connects the mouth and the nasal passages with the esophagus

Larynx

  • Connects the pharynx to the trachea, and is also known as the voice box

Trachea

  • Connects the larynx to the lungs, and is commonly called the windpipe
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Causes of Noisy Breathing in Dogs

The causes of stertor and stridor in dogs are many. Some are congenital (present at birth), while others may be acquired due to illness or trauma. Always consult your veterinarian if you notice that your canine family member is having a breathing issue. A few of the causes you may want to have your veterinary care team investigate are listed below.

Nares and nasal cavity

  • Neoplasia (new, uncontrolled tissue growth)
  • Foreign body
  • Collapsed nostrils (stenotic nares)
  • Chronic nasal disease like rhinitis

Nasopharynx

  • Neoplasia
  • Foreign body
  • Nasopharyngeal stenosis (results in poor airflow when the mouth is closed)
  • Polyps

Pharynx

  • Neoplasia
  • Abscess
  • Tonsillar prolapse
  • Retropharyngeal lymphadenopathy (enlargement at the back of the throat)
  • Soft palate elongation

Larynx

  • Neoplasia
  • Laryngeal paralysis (breeds congenitally prone are Bouvier des Flandres, Dalmatian, Siberian Husky, Bulldog and Bull Terrier, while  breeds prone to acquire the paralysis are Saint Bernard, Great Pyrenees, Labrador Retriever, Irish Setter and Great Dane)
  • Laryngeal collapse
  • Everted laryngeal saccules (masses between the vocal folds)

Trachea

  • Tracheal stenosis (windpipe becomes narrow or constricted)
  • Tracheal collapse (tracheal loss of rigidity and prevention of airflow to the lungs, often seen in Yorkshire Terriers, Poodles, and Pomeranians) 
  • Foreign object

Brachycephalic syndrome is common to breeds with short noses; the complications are a combination of elongated soft palate, stenotic nares, and everted laryngeal saccules. Breeds predisposed are the Bulldog, Shih Tzu, Pekingese, Chow Chow, Pug, Lhasa Apso, Boxer, Shar Pei, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, French Bulldog, and Boston Terrier.

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Diagnosis of Noisy Breathing in Dogs

Sometimes our family pets become very excited when they walk through the veterinary clinic doors. Whether it is the elation about the outing or the stress of the clinical visit, the excitement will perhaps exacerbate the noisy breathing that is already present. While waiting in the reception area of the clinic, try to calm your pet if he is so enthusiastic that the veterinarian will have a difficult time assessing the problem.

Give your veterinarian as much information as possible. Let her know the changes that you have seen in your furry family member, such as a difference in his bark or exercise tolerance. Tell the veterinarian if your pet has had any accidents or trauma of late. As she listens with the stethoscope, your veterinary caregiver might hear sounds that will provide clues as to if there is an obstruction or abnormality.

Radiographs of the head, neck, lungs, and chest may give some insight. Sometimes an elongated palate or a polyp on the windpipe could be evident. Further diagnostic tools, like ultrasound or computed tomography (CT) scan could be invaluable in assessing noisy breathing.

In addition, a complete blood count, biochemical profile, and urinalysis may be needed to add information to the health evaluation of your dog.

If absolutely necessary, a pharyngoscopy or laryngoscopy will be considered. This will clearly show anatomical changes, but will only be done if the risk of complication (such as airway collapse) is low. Rest assured, if the veterinary team feels this must be done in order to fully diagnose the reason for the stertor and stridor, your pet will be carefully monitored, and the team will be prepared for intervention measures if required.

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Treatment of Noisy Breathing in Dogs

Treating the cause of noisy breathing is important, especially if there is risk of respiratory collapse or secondary complications like hyperthermia, aspiration pneumonia, or consistent regurgitation.

Surgical measures are sometimes needed to correct noisy breathing problems. Shortening of an elongated palate, removal of obstructive polyps, enlarging of nasal openings, and foreign body removal are all possibilities that can bring dramatic improvement for your beloved pet. Your veterinary specialist and her team will discuss with you the best options, cost, prognosis, and aftercare.

Of course, if when you bring your dog into the clinic the situation has already reached critical stages, emergency measures will be taken to permit your dog to breathe more easily, once he has been stabilized.

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Worried about the cost of Noisy Breathing treatment?

Pet Insurance covers the cost of many common pet health conditions. Prepare for the unexpected by getting a quote from top pet insurance providers.

Recovery of Noisy Breathing in Dogs

Once your pet has been released from the hospital, it is essential that you provide a quiet resting place. A soft bed would be a nice feature to offer your recovering pet. There will be pain medication and antibiotics prescribed, and exercise restriction will need to be followed for a period of time. You may notice that your pet still makes noise when he breathes. This is normal, may take time to resolve due to swelling at the surgical site. Your veterinarian will advise you on follow up appointments in which to verify that all is well.

As for the future, it is in the best interest of your dog to remain at a weight healthy for his stature. Over strenuous exercise, stress, and exposure to extreme heat and high temperatures must be avoided.

Noisy breathing can be expensive to treat. If you suspect your dog has noisy breathing or is at risk, start searching for pet insurance today. Brought to you by Pet Insurer, Wag! Wellness lets pet parents compare insurance plans from leading companies like PetPlan and Trupanion. Find the “pawfect” plan for your pet in just a few clicks!

Paying for your pet’s routine shots, bloodwork and tests can be also difficult to budget for. Fortunately, Wag! Wellness plans cover costs for routine care for your pet, getting your money straight back into your bank account within 24 hours. In the market for wellness plans? Compare wellness plan packages to find the right plan for your pet!

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Noisy Breathing Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $200 - $4,000

Average Cost

$950

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Noisy Breathing Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Malinois X

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Five Weeks

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13 found helpful

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13 found helpful

Has Symptoms

My puppy started with noisy breathing a couple days ago, sounded like he had mucus stuck in his nose but now he has a runny nose and he’s sneezing. I think he caught a cold but I’m not very sure. He’s 5 weeks old and still hasn’t had his first vaccine. He’s very furry, so he doesn’t like sleeping on his bed with his siblings because it gets hot for him, so he sleeps on the floor. He’s acting normal: eating/drinking, playing, and running around. Is there any reason for concern? We’re keeping an eye on him, but from what I’ve seen he’s doing alright.

Feb. 19, 2021

Owner

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Dr. Maureen M. DVM

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13 Recommendations

Hello, Sorry about that. The above symptoms indicate either an allergy or a respiratory infection. Please take him to a vet for treatment. If it's a respiratory infection e.g kennel cough he may pass it to his littermates as it's contagious. Good luck

Feb. 20, 2021

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Pit Bull

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five months

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10 found helpful

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10 found helpful

Has Symptoms

When she breathes it sounds like something stuck in her throat. And its loud like you can hear her breathing over her eating.And she seems to try to hack something up a lot. She eats just fine, is active, nothing else seems out of the ordinary.

Jan. 15, 2021

Owner

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Dr. Maureen M. DVM

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10 Recommendations

Hi, Sorry about this. This could be a respiratory infection commonly known as kennel cough. It's usually treated with a prescribed course of antibiotics. Please visit your vet for a tentative diagnosis and treatment.

Jan. 15, 2021

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Noisy Breathing Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $200 - $4,000

Average Cost

$950

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