Why Does My Golden Retriever Snort? Causes and Solutions


Dogs make all kinds of sounds, just like us, but some sounds you are used to, and others you are not. You know that barks are normal and you can tell what different kinds of barks mean, and you are also familiar with other sounds like howls, growls, and snoring – yes, dogs do snore

But snorting is not very common, and some new dog owners are very surprised when they hear it for the first time. But dogs do snort, and cats do too. 

Now to answer your question; why do golden retrievers snort? golden retrievers snort mainly to get rid of something that is irritating their noses such as some debris, dirt, or an allergen. Snorts can also be caused by a viral infection or a sinus one. Occasional snorts are fine but a lot of snorting could be a sign of an infection and should be checked by a vet. 

Let’s see why do dogs snort and whether – or when – you should be worried. 

Golden Retriever peeking

Why Does My Golden Retriever snort?

An image of a dog barking to illustrate the answer to the reader's question of why does my golden retriever snort

In sneezes, your dog is involuntarily forcing air from their lungs outside through their air and mouths, and snorts are the exact opposite of it. In snorts, the dog intentionally forces air into the lungs through the nose and mouth. While sneezes can have many causes, one of which is getting rid of something that is obstructing the airway, snorts are often done for this same reason. 

Causes of Snorts 

The most common cause of snorting is to get rid of something. This may be something that is obstructing their airway and is making breathing difficult for them by obstructing airflow during inhaling and exhaling, or it could be because of debris that is irritating their noses and mouths. 

Difficulty breathing 

If your dog is having difficulty breathing because of something that has entered their nose or has gotten even further, they may be having difficulty breathing normally and would then attempt to get rid of whatever is causing the blockage by snorting. 

If that’s the cause, you will notice your dog snorting a couple of times in a row and then trying to breathe louder than normal, that’s them checking if the thing is still there. 

It should be noted that the dog can keep snorting even if the obstruction has been removed. That’s because the will still have a phantom feeling that something is still there, and it could be irritating them very much.

Fluid Buildup 

Sometimes there will be a small fluid build up in your dog’s nose or throat that they need to get rid of, and if it’s irritating for them enough that they can feel it, they will try to snort to break it up. This is often effective enough and the dog will stop snorting after they break up the build-up. 

Something irritating 

Sometimes debris, dirt, or something very small will fly into your dog’s nose and just stay there. This will irritate the dog enough, especially if it gets stuck on their throat, that they may try to get rid of it by snorting.

What irritants cause snorting? 

Any small enough foreign body can irritate your dog enough to cause snorting if it gets stuck in their noses, sinuses, throats, or the back of their mouths. 

Examples of irritants that can cause reverse sneezing: 

  • Dirt
  • Debris
  • Nasal mites
  • Secretion
  • Pollens
  • Small grasses
  • Smoke
  • Odors
  • Any elongated soft plate
  • Masses

There are thousands of small things flying in the air that can easily get into our noses and our dogs as well, so it’s normal that something will get stuck there every once in a while. 

Are Reverse Sneezes Dangerous? 

Even though the strange noises may be alarming to some dog owners, reverse sneezes are not dangerous and are not considered a harmful condition by vets and medical professionals. There will not be any ill effects as a result of your dog’s snorting episode, and your dog will be fine before and after the episode. 

There really is nothing to be alarmed about. To snort, your dog will make rapid and long inspirations while standing still and some dogs may extend their head and neck while doing it. 

Snort episodes can last just a few seconds or a minute, and they are very short-lived and quite unlikely to be repeated soon after the first one is done. 

How to diagnose a reverse Sneeze? 

In case you have noticed that the reverse sneezes – or snorts – are worthy of a vet visit as they can be a sign of something that needs your attention, your vet will try to first get their medical history of your dog and check them for clinical signs. 

Most vets will check your dog’s nose, mouth, and nasal passages for foreign bodies that may be obstructing the airflow, irritating the dog, or is making breathing harder. 

They will then try to rule out other causes of abnormal breathing and snorting. They will try to rule things like an upper respiratory tract infection, nasal tumors, collapsing trachea, and so on

How to treat Snorting?

In the majority of cases with reverse sneezes, there will be no medical treatment required. In fact, I would say 99% of the times your dog will do something like snorts, it will go away on its own and you wouldn’t even remember it happened one hour later. 

I would recommend just letting them be and get on with your day. The easiest and probably the most effective way to help would be to give them some fresh water to drink. If you want to go an extra step, you can stroke their neck gently and try to calm them down. 

Once your dog exhales through their nose again, the snorting episode is over and they will get back to what they were doing before. 

As mentioned before, most reverse sneeze episodes will last less than one minute, so you wouldn’t need to worry about it at all. 

If the reverse sneezes are excessive and you do take them to the vet, they may prescribe them an anti-inflammatory, decongestant, or antihistamine medications to help them. 

One thing to remember

While reverse sneezes are nothing to worry about, you should remember that you should stay calm. Yes, you. If you panic or become visibly worried by your dog’s snorts, you can actually make your dog anxious. 

A long snorting episode can make your dog a little stressed on its own, but you can make it worse if you also become stressed by it. So, calm down and keep it together and try to calm your dog down. I find that simply petting them and talking to them in a calm and assuring voice helps greatly calming them down after small things like this, and in a minute they are back to normal. 

I also find that classical music calms down my dog, so you might want to try this out yourself and see if it works.

Golden Retriever peeking

Related Questions

Do Dogs Snort when they’re excited?

Dogs will sneeze and snort when they are happy and excited, and they will sneeze to tell the other dogs – or whoever is watching – that they are playing and enjoying their time and are not unfriendly.

Why does my dog snort when I pet him?

Your dog may snort when you pet them because they are excited and are telling you that they’re enjoying their time. They may also be telling you that they want to play.

Why Does My Dog Snort at me?

Your dog doesn’t snort at you, but rather happen to be looking at you while snorting. It’s important to distinguish between a snort – also known as a reverse sneeze – and a snort. A snort is your dog forcing air out of their lungs through their nose and they do it to get rid of something that is irritating their noses or because something is blocking the airway.

Why does my dog snort like he can’t breathe?

If your dog is snoring and trying to take long breaths but seems unable to do so, there may be something that is obstructing their airway and they are feeling choking. Depending on how hard they seem to be struggling, you may need to intervene and help them clear the airway by either giving them water or gently stroking their neck area.

Sources

Reverse Sneezing in Dogs – PETMD

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