Why Does My Dog Snort When They Get Excited?

As someone who has spent nearly their entire lives arounds, I’ve heard them make all sorts of noses. Grunts, “talking“, snores, farts, sneezes, and even snorts!

Dogs have a pretty complex system of communication, and contrary to what you might think, they don’t snort for the same reasons we do.

While I’ve heard dogs snort before, I didn’t know exactly what it meant, so I dug in and did my research. If your pup snorts and you’ve wanted to know why, then keep reading!

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Why Does My Dog Snort When Excited?

By now, you’ve probably noticed a connection between snorting and your pup having a good time. It’s pretty easy to recognize an excited dog: they might bark, do a play bow, wag their tail, pull on their leash, or zoom around.

Yet, have you heard of an “excitement snort”? This is when your dog demonstrates their excitement through a snorting sound, that, as we’ll see in just a minute, is also called a “reverse sneeze”.

The first time you hear it, it’ll probably take you by surprise.

So, why does it happen? Well, for one, it’s an involuntary reflex that happens when pups get giddy with emotions. They gulp in too much for their airways to handle, which ends up sounding like a snort.

How Do Dogs Snort?

Let’s clarify one thing: dogs don’t “snort” in the same way pigs do. Instead, what happens is they let out a shallow sneeze that falls short of an actual, full-blown “achoo”.

Note: if you want to read more about sneezing, click here for why dogs sneeze when excited, and what to do if they won’t stop sneezing.

This forces them to emit a sort of sudden breath from their noses, which sounds like a snort. Experts call these snorts “reverse sneezing” or Pharyngeal Gag Reflex.

In other words, that snorting sound we talked about? Its official term is a “reverse sneeze“.

When your canine reverse sneezes, their throat muscles spasm slightly, which irritates their soft palate. To alleviate this irritation, they’ll suck in too much air through the nose. As a result, you hear snorting, grunting, as well as the occasional squeal.

Is Snorting or Reverse Sneezing Normal?

These pig noises you’re hearing from your dog may surprise and scare you when you first hear them but, don’t be alarmed. They’re usually innocent ways your pup expresses emotions or communicates with you.

There are times when it’ll appear that your dog stretches out its neck and expands its chest. When this happens, the trachea will become narrower, and it’ll seem like it’s not getting enough oxygen. They may start coughing, wheezing, or hacking. These alarming sounds can be scary, especially if you’re a new dog owner.

Remember, snorting for canines is what sneezing is to us. So, it’s often just a harmless, short-lived incident that shouldn’t alarm you.

Another reason is that your pooch could be craving attention. So, they might “fake” snort and maybe inch closer towards you while they’re doing it to make sure there’s no way you can ignore them.

How to Help

Most of the time, your dog’s reverse sneezing will be temporary and shouldn’t last more than a few minutes. However, there might be times that your dog is more alarmed by what’s happening than you are.

By the sound of it, it doesn’t seem to be much fun. So, when a snorting episode begins, make sure to show your pup some affection. You could also try cuddling them for a while just to say that everything is okay and that you’re there for them.

If you feel it’s taking longer than it should, you could try a few things to help reduce your pooch’s snorting and sneezing episodes.

Here are a few ideas that can help release whatever’s stuck in their throat or nose.

  • Briefly close your dog’s nostrils for no longer than a second or two
  • Softly blow into your dog’s face
  • Gently massage your dogs’ throat

When to Call the Vet

That said, you should keep an eye for excessive snorting. This is especially important if your canine belongs to one of the smaller breeds.

So, if you notice your pooch is reverse sneezing more often than they’re used to, it’s time to pay a visit to your vet. They’ll be able to decide whether your dog needs treatment or if it’s something that will likely go away on its own.

If it’s the former, then it could be a sign of any one of the following health issues:

  • Allergies
  • Nasal mites
  • Infections
  • Something lodged in their nose, like a small toy or even a blade of grass
  • A collapsed trachea, which is more common in small breeds, like Yorkies

Do All Dog Breeds Snort?

We’ve eliminated snorting and other pig-like sounds as signs of a potentially harmful health issue. Now, it’s time to talk about which breeds are more inclined to snort.

In general, all dogs will snort at some point in their lives, no matter the breed. Although, some are more prone to reverse sneezing than others. Let’s take a look.

Brachycephalic Dog Breeds

Brachycephalic breeds of dogs are small with flat faces and stubby noses. Because of their compressed nasal structures and small throats, they’re more susceptible to sneezing. Thus, they tend to make snorting pig-like sounds more often than other breeds.

Some brachycephalic breeds include:

  • English Bull Mastiffs
  • Pugs
  • Chow Chows
  • Bulldogs
  • Boston Terriers
  • Pekingese

Conclusion

We love our pups and all of their weird, canine behavior (well, most of it anyway!)

Witnessing a reverse sneeze for the first time can be unsettling, and it seems most dog owners only find out about it by googling it after the fact!

As long as you keep an eye on your pup, you’ll know when a reverse sneezing spell is because they’re excited or if it’s something more serious. In all likelihood, these episodes tend to be short-lived and hopefully will go away on their own.

However, if you’re concerned, talk to your vet about what’s going on. It never hurts to get a proper check-up to make sure your pup’s healthy and happy.

PuppyLists is written by J., who has owned, trained, volunteered with, and loved dogs for nearly three decades. When she isn't writing or researching, she's out adventuring with her 14 year old Lab mix.