Most sounds your dog makes can be pretty amusing. Often your dog makes these noises when it’s playing or excited, so you have nothing to worry about, as these noises are only a sign of alarm when they are frequent and regular.
If you’re here, it is most likely you might have accidentally heard your dog snort or oink like a pig, or you’re an obsessive dog lover, and you got curious about why your dog makes a funny pig-like sound.
Despite the age, lifestyle, and breed of your dog, it would make snorting sounds frequently.
Sometimes your dog will snort like a pig due to it being extremely excited, an irritant in its throat, or if it is a brachycephalic breed with a small nose and throat and it is lying in a particular position.
What is reverse sneezing?
A reverse sneeze is the same as when your dog is sneezing, only this time it is much noisier. Reverse sneezing is when your dog’s throat muscles spasm and the soft palate is irritated.
During a reverse sneeze, you would notice your dog would stretch out its neck as its chest expands and its trachea narrows. It happens because your dog breathes in too much air through his nose.
A reverse sneeze could give you the impression of pig noises that might sound like your dog is hacking, coughing, wheezing or any other alarming sounds. A reverse sneeze is in a way the opposite of an actual sneeze.
The air is being sucked into the nose during a reverse sneeze, unlike during a real sneeze where the air is being pushed out quickly and aggressively.
But this is not something to worry about as calming your dog down and petting your dog could help them. Dogs reverse sneezing is a quite interesting phenomenon that might happen because your dog is excited has an irritant in its nasal passage or an inflammation.
Although your dog might seem in danger and make you feel alarmed when it reverse sneezes, it is quite normal and is rarely a sign of something wrong. All breeds of dogs experience a reverse sneeze frequently, but smaller dog breeds experience it more often.
Causes of a dog snorting like a pig
Airborne Irritants: Dogs can be quite sensitive to airborne irritants. Irritants or foreign bodies like dust, perfume, grass, a piece of a soft toy and pollen, other small particles could get trapped in your dog’s nasal passages or pharynx, causing an irritation that could make them reverse sneeze.
While these getting into your dog’s nasal passages or pharynx might sound alarming, your dog’s body has a mechanism it uses to get rid of these. Again, this may sound scary and make you wonder if your dog is sick.
There is no reason to worry, as your dog does not know what it is doing. Your dog reverse sneezing is a way for its body to get rid of whatever irritant is causing the discomfort.
Your dog having an irritant stuck in its nasal passage might only be a cause of concern if your dog is showing signs of it reacting to an allergy. Some signs your dog might have an allergic reaction to something include watery eyes or regular sneezing. If this is the case, visit your vet.
Excitement, Laughter and Sense of smell: Dog’s laugh just like humans! It happens when your dog is playing or having fun, or reconnecting with someone it hasn’t seen for a long while.
You might notice your dog reverse sneezing in these situations, and it is totally normal because of its sheer excitement and energy at that moment.
Your dog might also reverse sneeze because it picked up a pretty strong scent or smelt something unpleasant. It could be because of the scent of a strong perfume or air freshener. If you notice this happens whenever such smells are in the air, keep your dog away from such perfumes and air fresheners.
You should pay attention to your environment to see what scents might have a negative effect on your dog, as dogs have a stronger sense of smell than we do.
Also, your dog might have difficulty breathing or making funny noises when it breathes because of a change in the weather or other environmental factors like smoke, high humidity or a change in temperature.
Collar: If your dog’s collar puts too much pressure on your dog’s throat, it forces your dog’s trachea to narrow and might cause your dog to have breathing problems or reverse sneeze a lot. It is because of the effect collars could have on your dog that harnesses are often the preferred option.
Excess Weight: Another reason your dog might be reverse sneezing is due to it adding a few extra pounds. This extra weight might make your dog have some difficulty breathing, as it requires more oxygen and energy taken into its body as it plays around.
Dog breeds that often snort like a pig
Dogs like Pugs, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Chow Chows, Shih Tzus, English Bull Mastiffs, French Bulldogs, and Pekingese are called Brachycephalic breeds.
Brachycephalic breeds can easily be distinguished by their smushed skull or a skull considered flat. Because of their smaller stouts or openings to their nasal passages, long, soft palates, and narrower tracheas that could easily collapse, they have a higher risk of respiratory illness.
Brachycephalic dogs might reverse sneeze way more often than other dogs throughout their lifetime, as their natural build makes it harder for them to breathe.
Smaller dogs like Beagles and Yorkies reverse sneeze more often too. This is because of their small body size. Reverse sneezing in small dogs, although can be quite normal, maybe a sign of a collapsed trachea.
It is the trachea that allows your dog to breathe. A collapsed trachea happens when the trachea gets obstructed by one of the tracheal rings collapsing, blocking your dog’s airway. This makes your dog snort or oink as it struggles to breathe.
Is it possible my dog stops snorting like a pig?
Reverse sneezing is quite normal in dogs and is only a problem if it has become severe or is caused by a collapsed trachea.
If you suspect an irritant is causing your dog to reverse sneeze, helping your dog massage its throat or blocking its nostril for a few seconds would help it get rid of the irritant and stop the reverse sneezing.
Also, paying attention to your dog environment and taking caution to prevent strong scents that could irritate it would help.
What to do in the rare case my dog has a collapsed trachea?
Your dog’s collapsed trachea would only get worse without proper treatment. You should immediately take your dog to the vet if you suspect your dog is snorting because of a collapsed trachea. While a collapsed trachea can be scary, your vet would advise and offer the best treatment for your dog.
Symptoms of a collapsed trachea
Asides from your dog reverse sneezing for longer than a minute or making a snorting noise like a pig for no reason, other symptoms of your dog having a collapsed trachea include your dog breathing heavily and it losing interest in playing or exercising.
Do I need to visit my vet?
Reverse sneezing should stop within a minute as your dog should only take a few seconds to get rid of the foreign body or irritant in its nose.
Honestly, most dogs will snort like a pig when they’re excited or playing, and there is absolutely no reason to be worried about it. You should inform your vet if you notice your dog snorts for no reason.
If your dog’s snorting is severe and caused by an underlying medical condition or a foreign body, it would have to be treated. Your vet would conduct a diagnosis and ask some questions to let you know why your dog is snorting.
Part of the diagnosis would be trying to find out if foreign bodies cause the snorting: bacteria or virus infection, your dog being overweight or a collapsed trachea.
Depending on the diagnosis result, your vet may recommend medications such as antibiotics or anti-inflammatories or surgery to treat whatever the cause of the snorting is.
It is important to note that your curiosity and caution might be of no need, as your dog snorting like a pig is very normal behaviour and is rarely a sign of your dog being unwell.