The Importance Of Detecting Sleep Apnea In Pets

We all love our pets as important members of the family. Some of us spoil our fuzzy companions more than others, by letting them sleep in the bedroom. Having them nearby could be helpful, in case you hear them snoring while they sleep. While it may be super cute as your pets snooze hard, snoring could actually indicate sleep apnea, which is potentially dangerous in cats and dogs. But before you run out and buy a CPAP machine (or C-Pup) for rover, read on to learn how to spot OSA in pets and what to do about it.

Sleep Apnea in Pets

Sleep apnea, insomnia, and narcolepsy are among the common sleep disorders in dogs and cats. However, when it comes to sleep apnea the risks range from trouble sleeping to death due to obstructions in your pet’s airways.

Similar to the way sleep apnea affects humans, in cats and dogs, it can cause breathing to suddenly stop during the night. As they jolt and jerk awake to restore airflow their fuzzy bodies are unable to get the necessary oxygen for proper rest. As a result, they may wake up gasping or choking. Also, similar to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), sleep apnea can result in the sudden death of cats and dogs.

Sleep Apnea In Dogs

Your dog may have sleep apnea if:

  • It snores loudly while sleeping
  • If is a breed with a short nose, such as a bulldog or Boston terrier, with shorter airways
  • Your dog is overweight and has more fatty tissues that can collapse on their airways, blocking them during sleep
  • Your dog has allergies that inflame and block its airways
  • Your dog has grown older
  • Has trouble staying asleep
  • Is grumpier and more confused during the day
cat with sleep apnea

Sleep Apnea In Cats

Your cat could be suffering from sleep apnea if:

  • It snores loudly during sleep
  • Your cat has a flat face, like a Persian, so it’d airways are shorter
  • Your cat has put on weight. Extra weight can narrow the airways or block them during sleep
  • Your cat has grown older and has lost muscle tone
  • Is grumpier and more lethargic than usual
  • Makes a high pitched tone or wheezing during sleep
  • Has allergies that inflame the airways

What To Do If Your Pet Has Sleep Apnea

First, don’t panic. It’s normal for a pet to snore occasionally due to awkward sleeping positions or a really great nap. Consistent snoring or snoring that suddenly starts is more of concern. If your pet exhibits any breathing issues consult your vet immediately.

Sleep apnea can develop very slowly in cats and dogs, so it’s important to monitor how they sound when they sleep over time.

If your pet isn’t treated for sleep apnea, it could contribute to:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Stroke
sleep apnea cat

Keep an eye out for nasal discharge, coughing, sneezing, or sores with snoring. This could indicate that your pet has a cold or respiratory infection that can most likely be cleared up with antibiotics.

However, if your pet does have sleep apnea the most common treatment method involves surgery, the use of antibiotics to clear up allergies, and weight loss, depending on what is causing the sleep apnea.

While studies are currently being performed to see how well cats and dogs respond to CPAP treatment, they have not created a device suitable for pets to use yet.

In the meantime remember that your sleep is just as important as your pet's. We may not be experts in the realm of dog or cat sleep apnea, but we can certainly help with yours!