It is hard enough sleeping with a spouse who snores. But lately your dog has been sawing logs, and even the cat lets loose with an occasional sneeze. You can hardly sleep with all the noise.

Your pets' snoring may keep you awake, but it probably isn't bothering them at all, says David Tayman, D.V.M., a veterinarian in private practice in Columbia, Maryland. Snoring usually means that a slight obstruction -- like postnasal drip or a loose bit of tissue in the throat -- is rattling when your pet breathes. It may be noisy, but it is not a serious problem.

If your pet is snoring all the time, he could have allergies. In pets, as in people, being overweight can also cause some nighttime noise, adds Richard L. Headley, D.V.M., a veterinarian in private practice in Mishawaka, Indiana. "As the tissue in your pet's throat becomes thicker, he may start snoring."

Pugs and Pekingese are particularly prone to snoring because they have an elongated soft palate, the fleshy tissue at the rear of the mouth that separates the nose from the mouth. When they sleep, this tissue can hang down in the airways, causing them to snore, says Kenneth Drobatz, D.V.M., assistant professor of veterinary medicine and director of emergency service at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine in Philadelphia.

Cats generally don't snore as much as dogs, although Persians sometimes have a problem because their nostrils are so small and the tissue vibrates when air goes out, says Annette Carricato, V.M.D., a veterinarian in private practice in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and author of Veterinary Notes for Dog Breeders.

Snoring can also be caused by polyps, growths that can form in the nose or throat. When your pet sleeps, muscles in the airways relax, causing the polyps to partially block the flow of air. This can result in a high-pitched snore, says Dr. Carricato.

See Your Vet If...

  • Your pet gasps and wheezes even when he is awake
  • The snoring is worse during pollen season
  • Your pet is overweight
  • Your pet's voice has recently changed.
  • Your pet is panting excessively
  • Your dog or cat is coughing, wheezing, sneezing, or gagging
  • Exercise makes him unusually tired or causes him to cough or wheeze
  • Your pet has recently begun snoring, wheezing, or panting at night
  • He is breathing rapidly or taking shallow breaths
  • His belly is heaving when he breathes
  • His nose is dry, crusty, or bleeding
  • There is a discharge from his mouth or nose for two days or longer
  • Your pet's tongue or gums are blue or pale

Copyright 1999 Rodale Press, Inc. All rights reserved.

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