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Laryngitis in Dogs

Respiratory illnesses can impact dogs just as they could you or me. Without proper care, however, they can seriously impact their health. Here, our Egg Harbor Township vets share the signs, causes and how to treat a dog with laryngitis.

What is laryngitis?

When your dog's larynx becomes irritated and inflamed, they experience a sore throat that we refer to as laryngitis. The larynx (or voice box) is the cartilage that helps prevent your pet from choking by closing off the trachea during swallowing.

Laryngitis typically starts with a dry cough. However, as the swelling of the larynx increases, it can impact the heart rate and breathing rate and, if not treated, cause suffocation.

What are the common causes of laryngitis in dogs?

There are several possible causes of laryngitis in dogs. It could be caused by something as simple as excessive barking, but viral or bacterial infection is often the cause.

Dogs with flatter faces are more likely to experience laryngitis, as their larynx and nasal passages are shorter than those of other dogs. Affected breeds include English bulldogs, Pekingese, and pugs.

Other underlying conditions that may result in canine laryngitis can include:

  • Lung disease

  • Heart disease
  • Laryngeal paralysis
  • Trapped foreign objects
  • Inhalation of smoke, dust, allergens, or gas
  • Laryngeal abnormality (such as a granuloma or tumor)
  • Laryngeal trauma (such as a breathing tube placement or a bite wound)
  • Cancer
  • Tracheitis
  • Distemper
  • Insect bites
  • Tracheobronchitis
  • Gastroesophageal reflux
  • Upper respiratory infection that is bacterial, viral, or parasitic

Signs & Symptoms of Laryngitis in Dogs

When a dog has laryngitis, the most obvious sign is usually a harsh cough. This cough could be wet or dry, but you should notice your dog coughing frequently and appear distressed.

Some of the other common symptoms include:

  • Hoarseness or loss of voice
  • Bad breath
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Harsh or raspy sound when breathing.
  • Other symptoms may include fatigue, loss of appetite, and fever.

If you notice any of the signs listed above, consult a veterinarian immediately.

Diagnosing Laryngitis in Dogs

Bring your pet to the vet immediately if there is the slightest sign of laryngitis. You can help your vet diagnose the issue by reporting any symptoms you have noticed over the last few days.

Your vet will make their final diagnosis based on an examination, an exam of the larynx, laboratory testing, and your dog’s response to treatment. Your veterinarian will also observe your dog’s respiration.

Diagnostic testing may consist of a urinalysis, serum analysis, bronchoscopy, cytologic exam of bronchoalveolar fluids, upper gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy or esophagogastroduodenoscopy, tissue biopsy, chest X-rays, a neurological exam, endocrine studies, EMGs, and culture samples. Your vet may perform any combination of these tests to identify the underlying cause.

How is laryngitis treated in dogs?

When recommending treatment for laryngitis, your vet may recommend anti-inflammatory medicine to help with any larynx swelling. Your dog may also be prescribed cough medicine to help relieve the symptoms while they recover.

The first step in the case of severe laryngitis is to stabilize your dog. Your vet may achieve this by addressing airway obstruction, reducing inflammation, and getting oxygen into the lungs.

Your vet may turn to intubation and ventilator support during the stabilization process. If excessive swelling causes a larynx obstruction, a tracheotomy tube may be placed through an opening in the neck to allow the dog to breathe while being treated.

If your dog is having trouble breathing, please contact our vets at Newkirk Family Veterinarians in Egg Harbor Township right away.

What can you expect during your dog's recovery from laryngitis?

The sooner treatment begins, the better the prognosis for your pup. Many causes of laryngitis can be successfully treated with medications and supportive care. If the larynx or the surrounding cartilage in the airway experiences chronic damage, the prognosis can be worse.

Your veterinarian will prescribe medication to be administered at home and provide advice on how you can care for your dog as they recover. Always notify your veterinarian if your dog continues to have trouble breathing.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your dog coughing or showing signs of an obstruction? Contact our Egg Harbor Township vets right away for veterinary care.

Always Welcoming New Patients

At Newkirk Family Veterinarians, we always accept new patients into our veterinary family. Our veterinarians are passionate about the health and well-being of Egg Harbor Township pets. Contact us today to book your pet's first appointment. 

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