Why Is My Dog Puffing Their Cheeks?

correct answerThe Short Answer is:

It is safe to ignore your dog puffing his cheeks once. When this occurs repeatedly however it is time to take action. It is most likely that the dog is stressed and ready to act aggressively but he might also be angry. When puffing is accompanied by other strange noises like wheezing or gagging it might be a symptom of a respiratory condition.

In this research you will know the answer to the query “Why Is My Dog Puffing Their Cheeks?“.

When their dogs puff their cheeks for the first time many pet owners are taken aback. What does it mean?

The occasional puff of the cheeks might not mean anything but if he does it more often you should investigate. 

Your dogs new habit could be the result of psychological factors or it could be a result of a medical condition.

We will explore both possible causes in this research as well as examine other weird noises dogs make such as reverse sneezing.

Why do dogs puff or huff?

A dogs cheeks puff out when he exhales rapidly and this is often accompanied by a distinctive sound. Even if you are not looking at the dog you may sense that he makes a different breathing sound.

Puffing is not to be confused with huffing which is when the dog is growling or barking at low intensity and puffing his cheeks while doing so.

Stress relief

You will need to pay attention to the context in order to understand why your pet puffs his cheeks. Most of the time your dog puffs his cheeks as a way to relieve stress. The first instance might not be sufficient to establish the cause but if it occurs repeatedly and a pattern emerges you can identify whats making your dog feel anxious.

He may be bothered by various situations such as walking past a house where another dog lives or perhaps the sound of the washing machine.

If thats the case you can stop puffing simply by removing the stress trigger. Alternate your walking route or take the dog outside when your partner is doing the laundry.

Warning sign

If your dog is huffing rather than puffing it might be a warning sign that he is getting aggressive. When your dog sees another dog it will most likely huff and puff. It is not uncommon for the other dog to do the same.

I think thats bad very bad and you should remove your pet from that situation before it worsens.

This could be a shocking experience if your dog huffs at you or your children. As soon as your dog spots your child get them out of the room as the dog is about to attack. What is the reason for the attack?

Perhaps your dog perceives your behavior as threatening or he is stressed about something. As kids may not always know how to behave around pets its harder to say but if the huffing and puffing were directed at you and you know you did nothing to provoke the dog you’ll need to try to understand why hes upset.

Maybe he has anxiety maybe he has changed his environment or maybe he does not like to be left alone in the house so this is how he expresses his frustration.

In the absence of a psychological cause you should make an appointment for your pet to see the vet for a checkup. When a dog is in pain he takes it out on his family since he has no concept of illnesses and cannot communicate with you that he isnot feeling well.

Respiratory problems

A huffing or puffing sound can be accompanied by sneezing or choking in this case. Taking a look at the dogs airways and looking for obstructions is the first thing you need to do. You should try to manually remove anything lodged in his throat or failing that perform the Heimlich maneuver.

If however your dog does not appear to be choking on anything the strange noises he makes when he breathes could be a sign of a lung problem and you should take him to the vet as soon as possible.

Why do dogs puff their cheeks when asleep?

Seeing your pet puff his cheeks while hes sleeping isnot something you see every day but if you do see your pet doing it theres probably nothing to worry about. A vivid dream is most likely the cause of your dogs behavior.

If your dog resumes his normal breathing pattern after that it is obvious that the puffing was related to his dream. Dreams last for only a few minutes usually five at the most.

Rarely this puffing can also mean that the dog is suffering from a heart problem or anemia and he is breathing rapidly to get more oxygen and improve blood flow. Its best to consult a veterinarian if you see any other worrying signs in his waking state such as loss of appetite coughing lethargy.

Dog puffing cheeks and drooling

As with puffing excessive drooling can also indicate stress. The first thing you should do if you observe both of these symptoms in your dog is to grab a towel to clean up after your dog. Then you should consider what might be causing the stress. Saint Bernards and basset hounds which naturally drool a lot do not fall into this category.

In contrast a dog that has spent too much time in the sun might be panting and drooling excessively to keep cool. Taking the dog inside to a cool place and giving him plenty of water can also be signs of heatstroke.

What is reverse sneezing?

Puffing has nothing to do with this sound as its more of a snorting sound and a pretty terrifying one at that. When a dog reverses sneezes he inhales his own sneezes instead of sneezing. Most of the time this isnot a problem.

Irritation of the soft palate is likely responsible for this backward sneezing. This is more common among brachycephalic dogs such as French Bulldogs and pugs who have trouble breathing because they have too much tissue crammed into tight spaces such as their mouths and esophagus.

Other dogs may have episodes of reverse sneezing however.

Usually such episodes do not last for more than 30 seconds but if you want to end them you should cover your pets nostrils for just a few seconds just long enough to force him to open his mouth to breathe.

What are the common causes of a dog having puffy cheeks?

Whenever their dogs cheeks appear puffy a pet parent will immediately notice. He has a swollen face a sure sign that something is wrong. Here are a few likely explanations.

Dental problems

A dogs teeth can cause just as much pain as they can cause you. A dog with an abscess will appear puffy on one side of the face but probably only on that side.


Allergies are often accompanied by swelling in the face. There are many things that dogs can be allergic to including medications dust or household chemicals. Insect stings can also trigger an allergic reaction.


Any injury to the face can cause swelling whether it is from a dogfight a kick to the head or a puncture with a sharp object. You should check your dogs face for signs of injury disinfect the wound and see a veterinarian if necessary.

Heart failure

Fluid buildup is a common symptom of congestive heart failure. Any part of the body can experience it including the face.


Puffy cheeks can also be caused by cancer or benign growth tissue. If your dog does not show any other signs of being unwell do not worry too much about that.

Is it more common for certain breeds to puff their cheeks?

Apparently greyhounds are prone to this type of behavior though their owners might not notice it as often since these dogs have a reputation for being quiet.

Greyhounds however do not always puff when they are aggressive as they can also do it when they are happy such as when they are praised for something they did or are settling in for a nap.

Puffing and panting are more common in brachycephalic dogs but in their case it could mean they have difficulty breathing.

What other strange noises might a dog make?

A dog owner may find wheezing to be a frightening sound. In most cases this is caused by an obstruction of the airways such as mucus buildup an infection or an allergy. When a dog starts wheezing dramatically many owners are scared their pet might be choking but that is rarely the case.

When a dog eats too fast it makes a gagging sound. Despite the fact that the dog is not choking it may still take in some air when eating fast.

A gagging sound however might be a sign of Brachycephalic Airways Obstruction Syndrome (BAOS) a serious condition that can result in a tracheal collapse in brachycephalic breeds. A flat-faced dog that makes gagging or wheezing sounds should be examined by a veterinarian.

Some dogs might need corrective surgery to remove excessive tissue in their mouths or larynx.

How else do dogs use their faces to communicate?

Some dogs have large round eyes that are difficult to resist. When they’re begging for food other dogs may also be aware of this which is why they raise their brows and fix your gaze.

Studies have indicated that dogs use their eyes to communicate among themselves or with their families. If they’re angry about something dogs will often stare hard or look threateningly at you.

A herding dogs stare is a reflex from their working days that they apply more often.

Instead when a dog does something wrong he will avert your attention and look somewhere else.

Stress is usually indicated by blinking and squinting.

As well as using their ears dogs communicate with each other. They may be paying attention to you or a dog barking outside if they keep their ears forward.

This indicates that they are afraid when their ears are pulled back flat against their heads. You should comfort your dog when they display this behavior.


It is safe to ignore your dog puffing his cheeks once. When this occurs repeatedly however it is time to take action. It is most likely that the dog is stressed and ready to act aggressively but he might also be angry.

When puffing is accompanied by other strange noises like wheezing or gagging it might be a symptom of a respiratory condition. Generally flat-faced dogs are more prone to respiratory problems due to their shape.

If you want to read more about dog health tips read here: Dog Health Tips and Tricks.

Why Is My Dog Puffing Their Cheeks? (Watch Video)

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