Are Your Furry Friends Prone to Sleep Disorders?
Dog owners want what’s best for their pets, and won’t hesitate to buy them a mountain of toys or the best kibble on the market. When it comes to a dog’s health, it may be difficult for owners to tell when their pets need help.
In humans, sleep apnea manifests itself as loud, habitual snoring. Many pet owners may laugh at a video of their dog snoring and running in its sleep, but is this a sign of a problem? Can dogs experience sleep apnea the same way humans do?
What is Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a sleep disorder in which breathing is temporarily and repetitively interrupted. When throat muscles relax, the tongue may fall back into the airway, making breathing impossible. The body will wake itself up to catch its breath several times throughout the night.
As a result of lack of sleep and oxygen, patients with sleep apnea will feel tired and moody during the day. They may also experience difficulty staying awake, which can make daily activities a struggle. If your dog can’t seem to stay awake even when prompted to go for a walk, it may be a sign something’s wrong.
Risk Factors of Sleep Apnea in Dogs
Unfortunately, sleep apnea can occur in dogs. It’s especially common in dogs with short snouts and broad skulls, known as brachycephalic breeds. This includes:
- French and English bulldogs
- Shih Tzus
- Boston terriers
- King Charles spaniels
Because brachycephalic breeds have such poor facial structures, their airways are more likely to become obstructed, leading to loud snoring, sleep apnea, or brachycephalic syndrome. However, sleep apnea can develop in any breed of dog. Other common risk factors include:
- Obesity: As with humans, a dog that’s overweight may have trouble breathing. It’s best to ensure your dog is on a healthy diet and gets plenty of exercise.
- Allergens: Some veterinarians will test dogs for allergies. However, if you notice your dog’s snoring worsen during certain times of the year, it may be linked to allergies.
Signs of Sleep Apnea in Dogs
Keep in mind that snoring doesn’t automatically indicate sleep apnea. It’s simply one of the most recognizable signs of this sleep disorder in both humans and dogs.
Additionally, because sufferers of sleep apnea are more prone to fatigue during the day, don’t assume a napping dog is a suffering dog. Our furry friends need more sleep than we do, averaging about 12 to 14 hours per day in adult dogs. Some common signs of sleep apnea in dogs include:
- Loud and habitual snoring
- Frequent naps throughout the day
- Fatigue or lethargy
- Choking or gasping during sleep
When to See a Veterinarian
It may be tough to identify if your dog has sleep apnea. Regardless, if your dog regularly snores or displays any of the aforementioned symptoms, it’s a good idea to mention it at their next vet appointment. If your dog seems to be having trouble breathing while they sleep, you may want to schedule a visit right away.
When left untreated sleep apnea may put your dog at risk for serious and potentially fatal health conditions like high blood pressure or heart disease. Their veterinarian will be able to determine if they have sleep apnea, and may even check for other possible breathing issues.
Treating Sleep Apnea in Dogs
If your dog does get diagnosed with sleep apnea, there are a few treatment options available. While CPAP machines are effective in humans, there’s no research to suggest it’ll work for animals.
Instead, their veterinarian may suggest getting your dog down to a healthier weight through diet and proper exercise. They may also prescribe antibiotics to help alleviate many symptoms of allergies that may cause sleep apnea.
In some cases, such as in dogs with short snouts, surgery may be required to help them breathe easier. However, this usually isn’t a vet’s first step when treating sleep apnea in dogs. The treatment your dog may receive will depend on what’s causing their sleep apnea symptoms.
Sleep Apnea Treatment for Humans
Sleep apnea symptoms in dogs aren’t much different from symptoms in humans. If you’re experiencing fatigue, moodiness, or headaches during the day, it may be a sign of sleep apnea.
Fortunately, there are also various treatment options for humans. If you suspect you have sleep apnea, the professionals at North Texas Sleep Solutions are here to help. Dr. Lauck will find the treatment option that’s best for you.
To schedule an appointment at our Keller office, contact us at (817) 431-6764 or fill out a contact form and a team member will get back to you shortly. We look forward to helping you rest better!