Dogs cannot talk like humans, but that doesn’t mean they’ll not communicate with each other. They have different ways to reach out to their peers and human friends through verbal and non-verbal gestures. When it comes to vocalizations, dogs use several methods of communication. They include whining, barking, growling, howling, whimpering, panting, sighing, and screaming.
So, what about snorting? It’s that sudden bout of noise made through the nose. So, what does it mean when your dog snorts at you? Is it a part of his behavioral tantrums? Is your dog trying to communicate with you? Or, is there any other reason behind the same? Read on to know more.
What Does Snorting Mean in Dog Language?
Dogs often use snorting to communicate with other canines. When you have multiple dogs at home, you might often spot them snorting at each other. It could be in pursuit of play. One of your dogs could warn the other to stay away from their domain.
Your dog could even snort at their owners or other family members. If they do so mostly during mealtime, it could mean that they are hungry. If you find your dog clinging onto you and snorting at you when you have gotten home after a long day. It might indicate that your dog is seeking your affection.
If you’ve missed taking your dog out on his daily walk and find it snorting around that time, it means that he is expressing his frustration. He is perhaps annoyed about not being taken out on a walk.
Dogs have a powerful nose and are curious beings as well. They use their noses to explore their surroundings. So, when your dog is out on a walk and sniffs and snorts, it could mean he is exploring things around him. However, it would help if you watched out for your dog’s actions. Does your dog run in a particular direction after snorting and sniffing? That might mean he has smelled something, perhaps a prey. Before he runs in that direction, you need to establish control over him.
Playful Snorting vs. Warning Snorting
When your dog has indulged in joyful play with his peers, he will sometimes let out sneezes. These aren’t the real ones that occur due to bouts of cold. There’s something known as a play sneeze that a dog may fake during play. These play sneezes sound similar to a snort. A play sneeze will come from your dog’s nose, not his lungs.
When your dog is snorting playfully, it will also be evident from his gestures. You will see him doing the customary play bow, where their bums go up and elbows down. They’ll not just do it with their other canine friends. They may also indulge in play bows with their human pals.
Other signs that your dog is happy and relaxed include bouncy and exaggerated body movements. Your dog’s ears will appear loose and floppy, while his eyes will generate a relaxed expression. Most importantly, he will even wag his tail happily.
If your dog snorts because of anger, his body language, vocalizations, and gestures will change completely. He will no longer let out those play sneezes. Instead, he will vocalize through a deep, throaty bark, which may sound threatening.
He would do this with his relaxed expression and become rigid and still. Besides snorting, an angry dog will growl and show his teeth out of aggression. All these are warning signs and may indicate that something is wrong. It’s better to stay out of his way then, lest he might also bite you.
4 Reasons Your Dog Snorts at You
Do you find your dog snorting at you quite often? Does his behavior seem weird to you? You must be wondering the reasons behind the same. Let’s check out the causes of why your dog snorts at you. Here they go!
1. Your Dog is Happy and Excited
All dogs bond with their owners; some may be clingier than others. Do you have to stay away from home for long hours throughout the day? Does your dog snort at you and lick you all over once you are back? Well, that’s his way of expressing his happiness upon seeing you. Your presence makes him feel excited, and he reacts that way.
2. Your Canine Wants Your Attention
Why just dogs? Attention-seeking behavior is typical in humans, too. So, when your dog is not getting the required attention he needs from you, he’ll try a lot of gestures to intimate you. He will combine many gestures, like snorting, barking, and whining. Your dog could even jump on you or paw at you. All of these are to attract your attention and have you listen to him.
3. Your Dog Needs Something
Snorting is a form of communication. Your dog may need something apart from your attention. He might be hungry and in need of food. He will not just snort but make his demands clear through other gestures like licking lips and paws, excessive whining and barking, and so on.
It could even be that your dog wants to play, and you’ve missed taking him out. He snorts at you to remind you of the same. However, at times, the snorting could mean something serious. Perhaps your dog is hurt, in pain, or facing other discomfort.
4. He’s Frustrated
If your dog is frustrated for any reason, he may vent it out through gestures. He could become stiff and refuse to move. He may act snappy, grab food or other things from your hands, or even pull his leash. He will even let out angry snorts to express his frustration or annoyance.
Understanding Your Dog’s Body Language
As a pet owner, understanding your dog’s body language is essential. In that way, you’ll be able to understand his changing emotions and act accordingly.
When your dog is happy, these are some of the things that he will do:
- He will have a relaxed and calm expression
- His mouth would remain open, ears would drop down, and he’d even wag his tail enthusiastically. A happy dog will wag its tail slowly and gradually from one side to the other. Fast wagging of the tail is a sign of anxiety
- He will even break into play bows quite often
- His overall expression will be a happy one
When your dog is worried, these are the signs that he is likely to show:
- He will lower his head and body tuck his tail. Your dog will even indulge in excessive yawning
- Your dog will also make minimum or no eye contact with his owner and turn his head away
- You may even spot your dog pacing up and down and drooling excessively
- Your canine will also whine and bark increasingly
An angry dog isn’t a pleasant thing to see. So, if you find your dog getting aggressive or angry, it’s better to give him some space till he pacifies, lest he may even bite you. Here are the signs of an angry dog:
- Your dog will have a stiffened body and will mostly be bent forward
- He will keep his ears erect his, tail would be up, and his nose will appear wrinkled, too
- His teeth would remain exposed, and he may often snort, growl, or snarl
How to Respond to Your Dog’s Snorting?
When your dog snorts at you, it is essential to understand the underlying cause. This will help you to act accordingly. When you identify that your dog’s snorting is an attention-seeking behavior, you should not give in immediately. Instead, try to calm him down at first. If he is adept at following commands, then the ‘Quiet’ or ‘Stop’ commands may help. Once your dog stops, you may pat him on his back or reward him with a treat.
If your dog snorts during play and gives you the customary play bow, you can respond similarly. You could then indulge in a game of chase and try running away as your dog gets after you. This is a great way to bond with your dog.
However, if you have identified that your dog is snorting because he is angry, then the first thing you must do is to stay calm. Avoid looking straight into your dog’s eyes, as the latter may perceive it as a threat and get even more aggressive. Do not address your dog with a loud voice. Instead, be soft and calm. You could even give your dog some space. Intervening too much might intensify your dog’s anger, compelling him to bite you.
When to Seek Vet’s Guidance?
Your dog will not snort only when he is happy or angry. Sometimes, snorting could hint at an underlying medical issue. Keep a watch on your dog’s symptoms. Whenever you sense something unusual, speaking with the vet is always essential. Here are some of the instances when you need to get in touch with the vet:
1. If Your Dog is Reverse Sneezing
As the name suggests, reverse sneezing is when your dog pulls the air into his nose rather than pushing it out ( as in regular sneezing). However, the exact reason behind reverse sneezing in dogs remains unknown. Yet, it could be a result of an allergic reaction.
Moreover, dogs having narrow nasal passages could be more prone to this condition. When your dog reverse sneezes, he could even make honking or snorting noises. Most episodes of reverse sneezing get over in less than a minute. When your dog does it for the first time, it’s better to take him to a vet for a thorough examination. He may advise you on dealing with reverse sneezing episodes if your dog has them in the future.
Also, it’s essential to monitor your dog. Under normal circumstances, he will return to normal breathing after the episode of reverse sneezing ends. If that does not happen, do consult the vet.
2. Inhalation of a Foreign Object
It could be that a foreign object got inside your dog’s nasal passage, resulting in snorting and other signs of discomfort. If the thing is stuck in the nasal passages or throat, it may result in breathing difficulties. This is an emergency, and the dog must be rushed to the vet’s office immediately.
3. Respiratory Problems
Your dog may have respiratory problems when suffering from bacterial or viral infections. It could result in nasal and oral blockages, making your dog sneeze, cough, wheeze, or snort. He may even have a runny nose. When your dog shows signs of respiratory infections and has trouble breathing or wheezes and gags a lot, you must contact the vet immediately.
If your dog has a malignant or benign tumor in his throat or nose, that could result in recurring snorting behavior. Dogs with nasal tumors will exhibit other signs as well. These include noisy breathing, nasal discharge, coughing, weight loss, and reduced appetite.
5 Common Misconceptions About Dog Snorting
Snorting isn’t just health-related but can occur for many other reasons, as mentioned above. Dogs mostly snort when they reverse sneeze or inhale air through their nose. However, people may have certain misconceptions regarding snorting in dogs. Let’s analyze them in detail:
Most people feel that snorting only occurs in brachycephalic breeds like the Pugs, French Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Boxers, Brussels Griffons, etc.
These breeds are more prone to snorting because of their flat faces and short snouts. But that doesn’t mean that they are the only ones snorting. It may also occur in non-brachycephalic breeds.
Many are under the impression that snorting is a type of sneezing. Well, that isn’t true either. When one sneezes, the air is forced out through the nose. Whereas snorting is the sound produced due to reverse sneezing when the dog inhales the air through his nose. You should also know that every snorting isn’t a reverse sneeze. It is a manner in which a dog communicates as well during play or to express their emotions.
People think reverse sneezing to be painful. Well, it might be terrifying for owners to behold when they see their dogs pulling in the air and snorting. But, it doesn’t cause pain to dogs. They are back to their daily activities after an episode of reverse sneezing.
Another misconception is that reverse sneezing isn’t harmful. Well, sometimes your dog might fake a sneeze while playing. They’ll even sneeze and snort to communicate. But it’s not always the case. Your dog might reverse sneeze and snort if something has gotten into his nose, if he has respiratory problems, or even in the case of nasal blockages. Under such circumstances, your dog will need immediate medical attention.
Many owners often think that stopping their dogs when snorting and reverse sneezing may relieve them of the pain and discomfort. That’s, again, a wrong notion. It would help if you allowed your dog to sneeze and snort and not interfere unless it goes on for a long time. You can try massaging your dog’s throat to relieve him of the spasm. But they will mostly be fine after reverse sneezing.
What should you do when your dog keeps on snorting?
When your dog keeps snorting, that may not be confined to merely behavioral issues. It might indicate a severe health problem. A vet’s consultation is a must under such circumstances.
What should you do when you find your dog snorting in a way similar to a pig?
When your dog snorts in a way like a pig does, there isn’t much to worry about if he doesn’t do it too often. Moreover, if your is a brachycephalic breed like a French Bulldog or a Pug, chances are that it will snort more than others. This is because of the shorter airways and narrow nostrils due to their flat face.
How to treat and prevent snorting in dogs?
If your dog is snorting constantly and showing other symptoms, like breathing distress, nasal discharges, and so on, then he would need medical intervention.
If you have a brachycephalic breed, only a little can be done since the anatomy of their mouth and nose causes them to snort. However, surgical correction of the soft palate may sometimes be needed to lessen snoring and snorting.
The better you comprehend your dog’s body language, the easier it will be to understand the several gestures he makes. So, suppose your dog’s snorting indicates a positive behavior, like playfulness or expression of joy. In that case, there isn’t much to worry about. If the sorting results in an angry reaction, you must find ways to alleviate your dog. However, immediate medical intervention is necessary if the snorting hints at a severe health problem.
Elena Gherman is a highly skilled and knowledgeable animal care expert. At the start of her career, she gained practical expertise with multiple animals. In addition to that, she works as a DVM veterinary editor for Joy Pet Products, which focuses on offering reliable information on pet health and wellbeing. She meticulously reviews each piece of writing before it is published to make sure pet owners get the most precise and updated information possible.