Home Dog Theories Why Does My Dog Sounds Congested?

Why Does My Dog Sounds Congested?

by Joel
dog sounds congested

We all know how much joy and happiness our furry friends bring into our lives. But what happens when your dog starts making strange noises, like snorts, wheezes, or sounding all congested? It can be a little worrisome, right? Don’t worry because we’re here to help you understand what might be going on with your canine companion.

Like humans, dogs can also have respiratory issues that can make them sound congested. Sometimes it’s nothing serious, like a harmless sneeze or snort. But if your dog consistently makes congested sounds or seems to be having trouble breathing, it’s important to pay attention and figure out what might be happening. That way, we can help them feel better and get back to their happy and healthy selves! In this article, we will explore the common reasons why your dog sounds congested.

What is congestion in dogs?

Congestion is a condition that causes the mucus membranes of your dog’s nose to swell and produce extra mucus. It can also cause the nasal passages to become inflamed. When your dog has this condition, they might appear to be snuffling or sneezing—you may even hear them sniffing or see them pawing at their nose.

This condition usually affects dogs with long muzzles, such as hounds, pugs and English bulldogs. But any dog can develop congestion if they have allergies or other respiratory problems.

How do I know if my dog is congested?

When your dog sounds congested, paying attention to other accompanying symptoms is important to understand their condition better. So here are some common symptoms to look out for if you suspect your dog is congested:

Laboured or Rapid Breathing

If your dog is experiencing congestion, you may notice changes in their breathing patterns. For example, they may breathe faster than usual or struggle to take deep breaths. Additionally, you may observe their chest heaving or their nostrils flaring as they try to draw in more air.

Wheezing or Noisy Breathing

A congested dog may produce wheezing sounds or make snorting, snoring, or raspy noises during inhalation or exhalation. These sounds can indicate that their airways are partially blocked or narrowed due to congestion.

Nasal Discharge

Keep an eye out for any discharge coming from your dog’s nose. Congestion can lead to increased mucus production, resulting in a runny or stuffy nose. In addition, the discharge may vary in colour and consistency, ranging from clear and watery to thick and coloured (yellow or green).


Dogs with congestion often develop a persistent cough. It may sound dry, hacking, or even productive (with mucus or phlegm). Coughing can occur due to irritation in the respiratory tract caused by the congestion.


Just like humans, dogs may experience bouts of sneezing when they are congested. Frequent sneezing can be a way for their body to expel irritants and clear their airways.

Reduced Energy and Appetite

Congestion can make dogs feel uncomfortable and tired. If your dog is congested, you might notice a decrease in their energy levels, reluctance to engage in regular activities, and a loss of appetite.

Pawing at the Face

Dogs experiencing nasal congestion or discomfort may paw at their face in an attempt to relieve the irritation. For example, they may rub their paws against their nose or repeatedly scratch their face.

Restlessness or Difficulty Sleeping

Congestion can disrupt your dog’s sleep patterns, leading to restlessness or difficulty settling down. They may toss and turn, have trouble finding a comfortable position, or wake up frequently during the night.

Causes of congestion in dogs

Congestion in dogs can have various causes, ranging from minor irritations to more serious underlying conditions. Understanding the potential causes can help you identify the source of your dog’s congestion and seek appropriate treatment. Here are some common causes of congestion in dogs:


Dogs, like humans, can develop allergies to certain substances in their environment, such as pollen, dust mites, mold spores, or certain foods. When exposed to allergens, their immune system may overreact, leading to nasal congestion and other respiratory symptoms.

Upper Respiratory Infections

Viral or bacterial infections, such as kennel cough, canine influenza, or canine distemper, can cause congestion in dogs. These infections typically affect the upper respiratory tract, leading to symptoms like nasal congestion, coughing, and sneezing.


Sinusitis occurs when the sinuses (air-filled cavities in the skull) become inflamed and infected. This can happen due to an underlying infection, dental problems, or nasal obstructions. Sinusitis can cause nasal congestion, facial pain, discharge, and, occasionally, a fever.

Nasal Polyps or Tumors

Growths in the nasal passages, such as polyps or tumors, can obstruct the airways and lead to congestion. These abnormal growths may be benign or cancerous and can cause other symptoms like nasal discharge, sneezing, and difficulty breathing.

Foreign Objects

Dogs are curious creatures and may sniff or ingest foreign objects that can get lodged in their nasal passages. This can lead to irritation, inflammation, and subsequent congestion. Common foreign objects include grass awns, foxtails, or small particles.

Dental Issues

Dental problems, such as infected or abscessed teeth, can cause inflammation and swelling in the mouth and nasal area. This can result in nasal congestion, discharge, and other signs like bad breath and difficulty eating.

Environmental Irritants

Exposure to irritants like smoke, chemical fumes, or strong odors can cause temporary nasal congestion in dogs. These irritants can irritate the nasal passages and trigger congestion, sneezing, and other respiratory symptoms.

Anatomical Abnormalities

Some dogs may be born with or develop anatomical abnormalities that affect their respiratory system. Examples include elongated soft palates, collapsed trachea, or narrowed nostrils, which can contribute to chronic congestion and breathing difficulties.

Should I be worried if my dog sounds congested?

While congestion is common in dogs, it can also be a sign of other issues. For example, if your dog has been sneezing for more than a week, it could be an indication of pneumonia or an upper respiratory infection. If your dog has been sneezing for four weeks or longer and doesn’t respond well to antibiotics or other treatments, he may have chronic bronchitis or even cancer.

Suppose your dog has been sneezing regularly but hasn’t had any other symptoms that indicate an underlying medical condition. In that case, his congestion is likely just due to allergies or irritants in his environment. However, if he starts exhibiting other symptoms such as lethargy or loss of appetite along with his congestion, then you should consult with your veterinarian immediately so that she can rule out any serious conditions before they become life-threatening!

What to do when your dog sounds congested?

When your dog sounds congested, it can be hard to know what to do. Here are some tips:

  • Make sure you have the right tools. You’ll want a thermometer and a stethoscope so that you can keep track of your dog’s temperature and listen to his breathing.
  • Take your dog’s temperature. This is especially important if he has a fever or has been vomiting or coughing for more than 24 hours.
  • Monitor how much water your dog drinks daily, and ensure he’s getting enough nutrients from food. If he stops eating or drinking, get him to the vet immediately!
  • Make sure you can hear his breathing with the stethoscope, and check that it doesn’t sound laboured or wheezy—this could indicate pneumonia or other serious issues!

Treatments for congested dogs


In many cases, medications may be prescribed to alleviate the symptoms and address the underlying cause of congestion. These may include:

  • Decongestants: Nasal decongestants or antihistamines can help reduce nasal inflammation and alleviate congestion caused by allergies or irritants.
  • Antibiotics: If the congestion is due to a bacterial infection, antibiotics may be prescribed to combat the infection and reduce inflammation.
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or corticosteroids may be administered to reduce inflammation in the airways and relieve congestion.
  • Antiviral drugs: In cases where viral infections are the cause of congestion, antiviral medications may be prescribed to combat the infection.

Steam Therapy

Steam therapy can help loosen mucus and ease congestion in dogs. You can create a steamy environment by running a hot shower and allowing your dog to sit in the bathroom for a few minutes. Ensure the water temperature is comfortable, and keep your pet away from direct contact with hot water or steam.


Using a humidifier in the area where your dog spends most of its time can help add moisture to the air and reduce nasal congestion. This can be especially beneficial in dry climates or during winter when the air is drier.

Nasal Irrigation

Nasal irrigation involves gently flushing the nasal passages with a saline solution to remove mucus, irritants, or allergens. Your veterinarian can provide guidance on how to safely perform nasal irrigation at home using a saline solution specifically formulated for dogs.


Surgical intervention may be necessary in cases where anatomical abnormalities or nasal polyps/tumors are causing the congestion. Your veterinarian will assess the situation and determine if surgery is the appropriate course of action.

Supportive Care

Alongside specific treatments, providing supportive care for your congested dog can help ease their discomfort. This may include keeping your dog well-hydrated, providing a comfortable and clean environment, ensuring they have proper rest, and feeding them a nutritious diet.

Prevention of congestion in dogs


Ensure your dog receives all necessary vaccinations to protect against viral infections that can lead to respiratory issues. Common vaccinations include those for canine distemper, adenovirus, parainfluenza, and Bordetella (kennel cough).

Regular Veterinary Check-ups

Schedule routine check-ups with your veterinarian to monitor your dog’s overall health and respiratory system. Regular examinations can help detect any potential issues early on and allow for prompt treatment.

Clean and Dust-Free Environment

Maintain a clean living environment for your dog by regularly dusting, vacuuming, and removing potential allergens. Minimize exposure to dust, pollen, mold, and other airborne irritants that can trigger respiratory symptoms. Using air purifiers can also help improve air quality.

Avoid Exposure to Smoke and Chemicals

Keep your dog away from secondhand smoke, as it can cause irritation and respiratory problems. Similarly, avoid exposing your dog to strong chemical fumes, such as cleaning agents or paint, which can be harmful to their respiratory system.

Prevent Allergen Exposure

Identify and minimize their exposure to allergens if your dog is prone to allergies. This may involve keeping them indoors during peak pollen seasons, using hypoallergenic bedding, and using pet-safe cleaning products.

Dental Care

Maintain good oral hygiene for your dog to prevent dental issues that can contribute to congestion. Regular brushing, dental cleanings, and addressing dental problems promptly can help prevent infections that may affect the respiratory system.

Avoid Collar Pressure

Dogs with short or flattened snouts (brachycephalic breeds) are more prone to respiratory issues. Avoid using collars that put pressure on their necks and instead opt for harnesses, which distribute force more evenly and reduce strain on the airways.

Proper Exercise and Weight Management

Regular exercise helps keep your dog’s respiratory system healthy. Ensure they engage in moderate exercise appropriate for their breed and age. Additionally, maintaining a healthy weight through proper nutrition and portion control can reduce the risk of respiratory difficulties.

Prevent Nasal Foreign Bodies

Keep an eye on your dog’s surroundings to minimize the risk of them sniffing or ingesting foreign objects that could become lodged in their nasal passages. This may include monitoring them during outdoor activities and preventing access to objects that could be harmful.

Monitor Environmental Changes

Be mindful of sudden changes in temperature, humidity, or air quality, as these can affect your dog’s respiratory system. Make necessary adjustments, such as providing appropriate shelter, ventilation or using humidifiers, to ensure their comfort.

Final Thoughts

If your pup is experiencing a runny nose or acting like it’s hard to breathe, there could be several different things causing this. It could be as simple as seasonal allergies or as complicated as kidney disease. If your dog sounds congested, you should schedule an appointment with the vet. The sooner your dog gets treatment, the better and faster it will recover.

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