Ask Ethel: Paula Abdul's Chihuahua Has a Snoring Problem!
In a little bit of a break from our normal activity, this week's Ask Ethel column takes on a question from pop goddess Paula Abdul. No, really. Don't worry – I'll be back to regular programming next week, and will pick up with another reader query. But I couldn't resist this plea from Abdul, who posted last week on Twitter that she was losing zzz's over her Chihuahua Tulip's snoring!
I quote: "whew, i only got 3 hours of sleep last night! my dog Tulip has a snoring habit. it was rather amusing at first, now it's annoying!"
Tulip must be a serious snorer! You know, my mom sometimes claims that I bark in my sleep when I'm dreaming, but it's never loud enough to keep her awake. (I'm inclined not to believe her, and even if it's true, it's very muffled.)
How to help Ms. Paula with her sleep-deprivation, other than to recommend ear plugs, new sleeping arrangements, or an over-the-counter remedy?
I reached out to Dr. David Holt, the director of the Critical Care Surgery department at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Veterinary Medicine, and he was game enough to "shoot from the hip" and try to help Paula with her problem.
He tells me that sometimes, dogs can snore, and that's completely normal. But, sometimes, it might be related to something more serious.
"If the dog seems to be having profound difficulty breathing, if it seems to be affecting the dog's quality of life, then she should seek veterinary attention for her dog," Holt says. "It might not be a bad idea just to have the dog examined to make sure that there's nothing obvious going on. "
The vet might ask how long Tulip's snoring has been going on, and if it's worse at certain times of year (allergy season) or night (during dreams).
If the snoring is related to something anatomical, then it might be correctible with surgery. Sometimes, the soft palate (the tissue that separates the mouth from the back of the nose) gets too long or gets in the way, and surgeons like Dr. Holt can get in and trim it. He typically works with dogs that have flat faces (English bulldogs and pugs, for instance), but it can happen with overweight dogs, too. Which counts out Tulip, I think, since she's an itty bitty thing.
So what's left? I'm at the end of my road. The advisable action at this point might be to seek the help of a true, trained professional. Dr. Holt is here to help, Paula!
"I think she should come in and see me at her convenience. That would be my recommendation," he says with a wink. "I'd be happy if you'd pass that message along."
Got a thorny pet (any pet!) problem that you can't figure out? Try Ethel – she'll do her best to help. Send your questions to email@example.com. Include your pet's age, breed and sex, and try to give as much context to your problem as possible.
Previously in Ask Ethel:
Ask Ethel: Why Does My Dog Dig Through the Bathroom Trash?
Ask Ethel: New Kitten Keeps Biting!