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My pet snores: Does it have symptoms of sleep apnea?

Can pets have obstructive sleep apnea symptoms? Can CPAP help to treat them? Find out if your dog’s snoring or daytime fatigue are signs of obstructive sleep apnea.

As with humans, your dog’s sleep apnea symptoms would most likely develop over time; either on its own or as result of another medical issue or prescription medicine it is taking.1

You’ll probably notice the snoring first, but also note if he’s gasping or choking while asleep, or more tired or irritable than normal during the day.2

Sleep apnea in dogs

Your four-legged friends may be at greater risk for symptoms of sleep apnea if they have allergies, obesity (e.g. English bulldogs) or short noses that can making breathing difficult (e.g. Boston terriers, mastiffs, Rottweilers).2

Is your dog showing symptoms of sleep apnea?

Dogs experience sleep apnea symptoms in the same way we do: They temporarily stop breathing, causing their bodies to jolt them awake to take a breath. And as with humans, this constant nighttime arousal results in sleep deprivation.

Treatment for dogs with sleep apnea

When it comes to pets with symptoms of sleep apnea, it’s not as simple as upgrading to a sleep-specific pillow to better solve their problem. Instead, veterinarians will often suggest a diet for overweight dogs, prescription drugs or possibly surgery if their obstructions are caused by malformed nostrils or airways.3 CPAP is not a treatment option for canines right now, but that could someday change thanks to studies like the one in 2011 – on cats5.

For a better understanding of sleep apnea when speaking to your vet, be sure you’ve brushed up on general terminology for the best outcome for your pet.

Sleep apnea in cats

Cats can also have OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnea), particularly cats that are overweight, as well as Persian cats, due to their shortened muzzles and the breathing problems that can result from them.4

Is your cat showing symptoms of sleep apnea?

As always, a cat’s snore will be the most noticeable symptom of sleep apnea. If sleep apnea is affecting your cat, a treatment option might be if the vet thinks it’s necessary.

However, in 2011, researchers successfully treated cats with OSA by using CPAP. Their study is self-described as “the first report of CPAP being used as an effective treatment for OSA in an animal.”5

What if my pet sleeps poorly?

Will this CPAP study lead to more research into animal OSA and whether CPAP can effectively treat it? Time will tell. But we do know that animals can have sleep apnea – and other sleep disorders like narcolepsy, insomnia and periodic limb movement disorder3,4 – and that it has an equally harmful effect on their sleep. That’s why you should call the vet if your pet shows symptoms of sleep apnea.

Treating sleep apnea

Are your pet’s sleep apnea symptoms a mirror of your own ? If you also snore or have sleep apnea, download our guide to how it can be treated. This free ebook outlines several treatment methods and advice.

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1 Sleep and Health Journal. Do animals have sleep disorders? 2009. http://www.sleepandhealth.com/do-animals-have-sleep-disorders (accessed February 2, 2016).

2 Rodriguez JS. Does my dog have sleep apnea? Advanced Sleep Medicine Services 2015. http://www.sleepdr.com/blog/does-my-dog-have-sleep-apnea (accessed February 2, 2016).

3 Wondra S. Common dog sleep disorders. PetCareRx 2013. https://www.petcarerx.com/article/common-dog-sleep-disorders/896 (accessed February 2, 2016).

4 Alling M. Common cat sleep disorders. PetCareRx 2013. https://www.petcarerx.com/article/common-cat-sleep-disorders/893 (accessed February 2, 2016).

5 Neuzeret PC et al. A new animal model of obstructive sleep apnea responding to continuous positive airway pressure. Sleep 2011;34(4):541–8.