The flow of air from the upper to lower respiratory tracts is relatively quiet in the normal patient at rest. However, abnormal sounds may result from obstructive upper airway disease. These sounds are audible without a stethoscope. Their presence and, in particular, their persistence, suggests that a diagnostic work‐up for the patient is indicated. Stertor and stridor are two abnormal sounds that result from upper airway partial or complete obstruction. These sounds are not distinguished based upon where they originate in the respiratory cycle: either can be inspiratory or expiratory. Rather, stertor and stridor are distinct because of their pitch. The low‐pitched sound that is associated with stertor suggests that flaccid tissue is vibrating throughout the respiratory cycle. This occurs routinely in brachycephalic patients that have elongated soft palates: although their skulls are foreshortened, the reduction in soft tissue structures is not proportional. This additional tissue bulges into the airway lumen, creating resistance to airflow. This forces the patient to increase respiratory effort to take in sufficient air. An elongated soft palate is just one structural abnormality that is associated with brachycephalic airway syndrome. Affected patients may also experience the additive effects of having stenotic nares, with or without everted laryngeal saccules. As compared to stertor, which sounds like a snore, stridor is a high‐pitched sound that results from rigid tissue vibrations. It is typically associated with laryngeal or tracheal disease. Laryngeal paralysis and tracheal collapse are two common presentations in companion animal practice.