Why Does My Bichon Frise Snort Or Cough?

The Bichon Frise is a wonderful little dog to own, but unfortunately, they are quite well known for having snorting, coughing and wheezing issues.

This is not only irritating for you and your family but might also be an indication of a more serious health issue for your beloved Bichon Frise.

Below, we will take you through the most likely scenarios that cause your Bichon Frise to snort and cough, and what you can do to fix it.

bichon frise snort

1.) Your Bichon Frise Is Reverse Sneezing

Reverse sneezing in dogs that are smaller in size like the Bichon Frise is quite common, and this is the most likely cause of the ‘snort’ or coughing sound you’re hearing.

A reverse sneeze is a reflex that typically happens when your dog has an irritated respiratory tract, or sometimes, just when they’re very excited. Underlying causes can range from simple factors such as allergies and stress to more sinister issues like obesity or lung disease.

The most common cause of reverse sneezing in Bichon Frise’s is allergies. There are generally four types of allergies that can lead to snorting and reverse sneezing in your Bichon Frise and those are:

  1. Inhalant allergens (dust mites, cockroaches, animal dander, pollen)
  2. Food allergies
  3. Contact allergen sensitivities (to certain cleaning products or lotions)
  4. Atopy (a hereditary disposition to develop an allergy).
  5. Infected nasal passages (Rhinitis or Sinusitis)
  6. Nasal mites

During a reverse sneeze, the dog pulls air quickly inwards through the nose instead of pushing air out like a normal sneeze – resulting in a honking or snorting sound. It can last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes.

Reverse sneezing itself is typically not harmful, but some of the factors that cause it can be. If you’re Bichon Frise is fit & healthy and you’ve eliminated stress and allergy issues, then we recommend you seek professional advice from your veterinarian if the issue continues.

The video below shows a dog reverse sneezing so you can compare it to your Bichon Frise:

2.) Your Bichon Frise Has A Collapsing Trachea

Not to try and scare you but unfortunately, this condition is also quite common in small dogs like the Bichon Frise and can’t be ruled out.

A collapsed trachea is a serious health issue for small dogs that causes problems with breathing and swallowing.

A collapsed trachea in dogs is characterized by a narrowing of the windpipe with the airway collapsing and not being able to open properly.

This causes the dog to breathe more violently often making coughing, snorting or honking sounds as it tries to get air in.

A collapsed trachea is a serious issue and is usually diagnosed by your vet via X-rays or CT scans.

bichon frise coughing

3.) Your Bichon Frise May Have Heart Disease or Lung Disease

I know it’s very quickly escalating into some serious health complications, and this isn’t to alarm you, these are just scenarios that you need to rule out.

Heart disease in Bichon Frises causes snorting or coughing in one of two ways

  1. Enlargement of the dog’s heart putting pressure on the trachea
  2. Congestive heart failure leading to fluid on the lungs

Coughing and snorting related to heart issues most commonly occur at night time, or when your pet has been laying down for long periods of time.

Lung diseases are broad in nature and can relate to infection, asthma or even cancer.

These are all issues that must be diagnosed by a veterinarian.

How Do I Stop My Bichon Frise Snorting Or Coughing?

If it is caused by reverse sneezing, you should first look to remove anything that might be an allergen for the dog.

This can include but isn’t limited to:

  • Dust
  • Plants
  • Perfumes
  • Mould
  • Certain types of dog food
  • Chemicals
  • Shampoos
  • Grass

It is worth observing your dogs behaviour for a day and noting what they come into contact with and then removing anything that may have an allergy effect.

If you’ve removed all possible allergens and your dog is still reverse sneezing or making snorting, coughing and thinking sounds – then it’s time to see your vet.

The vet may prescribe an antihistamine to help your dog cope with seasonal allergies, or it may be that the reverse sneeze is caused by something lodged in its nose causing infection or irritation that needs removing and treating.

Beyond this, the vet may need to look into some of the more serious causes we’ve listed above.

why is my bichon frise snorting


Don’t panic yet – reverse sneezing is the most common cause of snorting, honking or coughing sounds from your beloved Bichon Frise.

While this does cause irritation in their nasal passages and some difficulty breathing, it rarely leads to more serious health complications for your pet.

That being said – if you have removed all allergens and other causes of the reverse sneeze and can confidently rule it out, it is time to take your dog straight to the vet for a more detailed assessment as these sounds and symptoms unfortunately can be the result of more serious issues.

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