Does my dog have sleep apnoea?
Is it possible that pets can have obstructive sleep apnoea? And if so, can CPAP help treat their symptoms? The answers are yes… and possibly.
As with humans, little Rover’s sleep apnoea would most likely develop over time, either on its own or as result of a separate medical condition or drug he’s taking.1 You’ll probably notice the snoring first, but also note if he’s gasping or choking while asleep, and he may be more tired or irritable during the day as well.2
Sleep apnoea is also more serious for animals in the short term; while it is known to raise the risk of secondary-cause death in humans over time, “there have been several episodes of sudden death in young dogs and cats while sleeping, which are similar to sudden infant death syndrome in humans.”1
OSA and dogs
Your furry friend may be at greater risk of sleep apnoea if they have allergies, short noses that can make breathing difficult (e.g. Boston terriers, mastiffs, rottweilers).2 Much like humans, obesity plays a part as well. Dogs experience apnoeas the same way we do: They temporarily stop breathing, causing their bodies to jolt them awake to take a breath. And as with humans, this constant night-time arousal results in sleep deprivation and all its short- and long-term health risks.
Your vet will often suggest prescription drugs or possibly surgery if their obstructions are caused by malformed nostrils or airways.3 He may also recommend a diet for overweight dogs. CPAP is not a treatment option for hounds right now, but that could someday change thanks to studies like the one in 2011 – on cats.
OSA and cats
Your furry feline friends can also have OSA, particularly overweight and obese cats, and Persians due to their shortened muzzles and the breathing problems that can result from them.4 As always, Shadow snores will be the most noticeable sign that something may be wrong. If so, the most common treatment is surgery if the vet thinks it’s necessary. Interestingly though, in 2011 researchers successfully treated cats with OSA by using CPAP. Their study is described as “the first report of CPAP being used as an effective treatment for OSA in an animal.”5
What if my pet sleeps poorly?
Time will tell whether this CPAP study will lead to more research into sleep apnoea in animals and whether CPAP can effectively treat itBut we do know that animals can have sleep apnoea, and that it has an equally harmful effect on their sleep.
Has your pet ever experienced sleep problems? If so, please share what condition they had and how you or your vet decided to treat it.
Sleep and Health Journal. Do animals have sleep disorders? 2009. http://www.sleepandhealth.com/do-animals-have-sleep-disorders (accessed February 2, 2016).
Rodriguez JS. Does my dog have sleep apnoea? Advanced Sleep Medicine Services 2015. http://www.sleepdr.com/blog/does-my-dog-have-sleep-apnoea (accessed February 2, 2016).
Wondra S. Common dog sleep disorders. PetCareRx 2013. https://www.petcarerx.com/article/common-dog-sleep-disorders/896 (accessed February 2, 2016).
Alling M. Common cat sleep disorders. PetCareRx 2013. https://www.petcarerx.com/article/common-cat-sleep-disorders/893 (accessed February 2, 2016).
Neuzeret PC et al. A new animal model of obstructive sleep apnoea responding to continuous positive airway pressure. Sleep 2011;34(4):541–8.