What are the Common Causes of Dog Snorting?

Do you have a dog? Have you ever seen them snorting? Dog snorting can actually be a common behavior, but owners may not always recognize the underlying cause of this behavior. If you’ve ever caught yourself wondering just why your dog is snorting so much, you’re not alone!

Dog snorting

6 Causes of Snorting in Dogs

In this article, you’ll find out more about the most common causes of snorting in your pet. Although some of these are serious, it’s important to remember that the vast majority of snorting in dogs has completely benign and mild causes.

6 common causes of dog snorting include, but aren’t limited to:

1. Communication with Other Dogs or Humans

Dogs sometimes snort and snuffle to communicate with other dogs. They use this behavior to show other dogs a variety of meanings, including their willingness to play. It is not fully understood just what snorting means for dogs, but it seems to mean many things.

Some dogs also communicate with their human family members by snorting. They may snort for attention, because they feel frustrated, because they want to play, or even out of hunger. If your dog’s snorting seems to be telling you something, this is probably the cause.

2. Sniffing and Exploring

Dogs sniff and use their noses to explore their surroundings all the time. The nose is one of the most important parts of a dog’s body, and your dog may snort sometimes to clear their nasal passages so they can smell things more easily.

Your dog may snort and sneeze at the same time for this reason. If your dog seems to be exploring the world around them and snorts as part of their experience, there is usually nothing to worry about. They are simply behaving normally for a dog, and they will probably stop snorting again shortly.

However, you should always be mindful of what your dog is getting themselves into. If you know or think they got into something they shouldn’t have, pay close attention to them afterwards and don’t hesitate to call your vet if you’re unsure about anything.

3. Reverse Sneezing

Reverse sneezing is an odd behavior that can be startling to some dog owners who have never seen it before. Instead of sneezing outwardly, this behavior involves more or less sneezing “in.” Dogs may make a snorting or honking sound when they reverse sneeze, and the attacks may last for several seconds.

If your dog is reverse sneezing for the first time, take them to the vet to have them checked out. However, if you know your dog has an issue with reverse sneezing, you do not need to take them to the vet every time it happens. Just watch them to ensure they go back to breathing properly shortly after.

4. Irritation from Contaminants

Dogs may have an irritated nasal passage from contaminants or irritants in the environment, just like humans might. If you’ve ever smelled smoke from a fire, candle, or cigarette and sneezed shortly thereafter, you can understand why this is one of the most common causes of snorting in dogs.

If your dog responds to contaminants by snorting like this once or twice, there’s nothing to worry about. However, if your dog seems to be in distress or is having trouble breathing, remove the contaminant and take your dog to the vet.

5. Respiratory Infection

If your dog has a respiratory infection from a virus or from bacteria, they may snort as part of their symptoms. Dogs with respiratory infections are likely to have symptoms other than just snorting, and they may sneeze, cough, wheeze, or have a runny nose as well.

If you think your dog has a respiratory infection, take them to their regular vet. This situation is not usually an emergency, but it will require vet care to help your dog heal and recover properly. Your vet will probably give your dog medication to help, too.

6. Inhaled Foreign Object

Inhaling a foreign object is much less common than the other causes of snorting on this list, but it is still worth mentioning. It is possible for dogs to inhale foreign objects including pieces of food, parts of broken toys, or other household items. These objects can get lodged in the nasal passages or in the throat, partially or fully blocking the airways.

If your dog is struggling to breathe, take them to the emergency vet right away. If you know or suspect they may have inhaled a foreign object, this problem will require surgical treatment, so your dog needs to see a vet as soon as possible.

Talk with a Vet for More Information about Your Dog’s Snorting

As you can see, most dogs snort for no medical reason whatsoever, and just do so because it is part of how dogs communicate and explore their surroundings. However, if you think your dog’s snorting may be caused by one of the more serious problems on this list, it’s a good idea to talk to your vet right away.

Your vet (or emergency vet, depending on the severity of the issue) can tell you whether or not your dog’s snorting is caused by a serious issue. The vet can also help remedy or treat the issue and help your dog get back to their normal breathing in no time.

“This is one of the more common things veterinarians are asked about,” says Heart + Paw’s Chief Veterinary Officer, George Melillo. “It is often wise to bring a video of your dog snorting with you when you check in with your veterinarian. This can help your vet determine if there is something to be concerned about or not.”

For more information about dog snorting, or if you have any other question about your dog’s health, book an appointment with our team at Heart + Paw. Your pet’s wellbeing is just as important to us and it is to you, so we’ll always make sure your pet gets the care they need. Whether the cause of your pet’s behavior is something mild or more severe, we’ll help guide you in the best direction.

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Heart + Paw was founded in 2018 by Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. George Melillo, who currently serves the Mid-Atlantic area. Heart + Paw offers a combination of veterinary care, pet grooming, and dog daycare to help be a resource in your pet parenthood journey.

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