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We'd sleep better with a slimmer dog

Our dog snores. It’s a loud, deep-throated, staccato sound. And lately, it’s unrelenting.

The fact that Lucy sleeps on the floor by my side of the bed is the reason I find myself awake at 3 a.m. researching “Why dogs snore.” There’s an amazing amount of information online, by the way. There’s a particularly large number of problem-solving websites in the United Kingdom. “Why do some dogs snore whilst others never do,” begins one article.

My husband and I have had a lifetime of dogs but never one that created so much middle-of-the night disruption. And, yes, we thought about relocating Lucy outside our bedroom and closing the door, but when we do that she sleeps with her body pressed against the outside — the sound of her snoring can still be heard and even rattles the frame a little. And she’s a definite trip hazard in the morning.

My research surfaces what you might expect on this topic, as well as a few unanticipated realizations. As you reflect on this, it cannot be ignored that this information has broad-based human application, as well.

The most likely reason for a snoring dog is restricted air passages, much more common in dogs with short noses than our normal-nosed spaniel. If either of us were smokers, air quality could be another reason for her nighttime snorting sounds, but we aren’t. Although I am going to suggest we change the air filters tomorrow. Wait — it is tomorrow.

I find research-based information that suggests a floppy-tongued dog snores more, but she is not that. She demonstrates lots of licking, but no flopping. Dogs that sleep on their backs snore more — that has specific application. Lucy has outgrown her well washed, slightly misshapen dog bed so she sort of splays herself across it on her back most of the night, rather than curling up inside it as she used to do. Repositioning her at night might work. But she has become so heavy lately that it’s hard to pick her up. It’s related to the sprinkling of cheese I occasionally put on her kibble, I think. Well, not just occasionally, every evening. Truth be told.

And then I find it. “Overweight dogs snore more.” A lot more, apparently. They actually may have “pockets of fat deposited around the throat that disrupt air flow.” One article called it “canine obesity.” It’s a little hard for me to accept. Lucy is a fat dog.

I should have listened better when our son visited us over the holidays and said, “Lucy is getting to be a bit of a porker, don’t you think?” I remember becoming mildly defensive over that remark.

But I am a problem-solver. And I need a better night’s sleep. When Lucy awakes from her noisy breathing and snorting sleep, I will break the news that the cheese has gone missing. And those morning walks need to become more regular and longer.

And we will get her a new dog bed — the kind she can curl up inside for a nap. She will probably dream about cheese.

— Sharon Johnson is an associate professor emeritus at Oregon State University and the executive director of Age-Friendly Innovators. Reach her at Sharon@agefriendlyinnovators.org.