Monday, August 30, 2010

A Dog’s Life: How Sleep Troubles Can Plague Our Canine Counterparts

A blog post by Dr. Michael J. Breus, inspired by Dr. Patty Khuly’s FullyVetted blog post, reports on the dangers of a snoring dog.

Dr. Breus is a Clinical Psychologist and a Diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine.

Despite being man’s best friend, snoring dogs can be worst enemies to a good night’s sleep.

This is because, like humans, dogs can suffer from sleep apnea. The difference, explains Dr. Breus, is that we’re not always as inclined to kick them out as we would a snoring spouse.

To avoid sleep disruptions, he recommends that people, especially those with allergies or insomnia, give dogs a sleeping space of their own.

Sleep apnea is caused by the airway collapsing during sleep, producing loud snoring sounds and respiratory problems.

Dogs that snore are almost always experiencing some degree of respiratory problems that affects their waking lives too.

Canines don’t sweat. They regulate their body temperature through panting—using their tongue and airway as a cooling mechanism. If they are unable to move air efficiently, they are more likely to suffer heat stress and less likely to oxygenate their blood efficiently. This relationship helps explain why snore-prone breeds can suffer from chronic fatigue.

Which dogs are at-risk for sleep-related breathing problems?

A recent Associated Press story reported on dogs that die while traveling on planes. Short-snouted dogs like bulldogs, pugs, and similar breeds made up about half of deaths in the past 5 years. These "brachycephalic" breeds have a skull formation that affects their airways. They can’t cool themselves off so easily and are prone to heat distress and, in severe cases, death.

Like dogs, humans that suffer from obstructive sleep apnea often experience excessive daytime sleepiness. Left untreated, this condition can also raise our risk for heart attack, stroke, diabetes, depression, and cognitive problems. We also experience higher rates of driving and work-related accidents.

In people, certain jaw features, neck size, and body weight can indicate sleep apnea. This blog post reviews signs of sleep apnea in humans. Sleep apnea can be diagnosed at an AASM-accredited sleep center.

Image by Niranj Vaidyanathan

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The Official Blog of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) is intended as an information source only. Content of this blog should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment, and it is not a substitute for medical care, which should be provided by the appropriate health care professional. If you suspect you have a sleep-related breathing disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), you should consult your personal physician or visit an AASM-accredited sleep disorders center. The AADSM, and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, as the managing agent of the AADSM, assume no liability for the information contained on the Official Blog of the AADSM or for its use.