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Dog Laryngitis

Laryngitis in dogs is a relatively common respiratory condition that affects the vocal cords, but it can become quite serious if not treated quickly. In this article, our Poway vets discuss laryngitis in dogs, including the causes, signs, and treatment options.

Canine Laryngitis

Laryngitis in dogs is a condition in which there is inflammation of the larynx. The larynx (or voice box) is the cartilage that helps prevent your pet from choking by closing off the trachea during the swallowing process.

A dry cough is usually the first sign of dog laryngitis. However, as the swelling of the larynx continues, it can affect their heart and breathing rate, and can cause suffocation if not treated.

Causes of Laryngitis in Dogs

There are a variety of reasons a dog may develop laryngitis. Something as simple as excessive barking could be the culprit, but a viral or bacterial infection is often the cause of this condition.

Dogs with a flatter face are more likely to experience laryngitis as their larynx and nasal passages are shorter than those of other dogs. These breeds include those like English Bulldogs, Pekinese, and Pugs.

If your dog has laryngitis, it could be due to an underlying health condition, such as:

  • 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 of Canine Laryngitis

The first and most common symptom associated with canine laryngitis is a rough cough. This cough will likely be dry, but you will notice your dog coughing frequently and appear to be in some discomfort.

In addition to a severe cough, you may also notice:

  • 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 with a veterinarian right away.

Diagnosing Laryngitis in Dogs

At the slightest sign of laryngitis, bring your pet to the vet immediately. You can help your vet diagnose the issue by informing them of your dog's behavior and symptoms over the last few days.

A full diagnosis can be determined following a physical examination, an exam of the larynx, laboratory testing, and your dog’s response to treatment. Your veterinarian will also observe your dog’s respiration for a few hours.

Diagnostic testing may consist of a urinalysis, serum analysis, bronchoscopy, cytologic exam of bronchoalveolar fluids, gastroduodenoscopy, tissue biopsy, chest X-rays, a neurological exam, endocrine studies, EMGs, and culture samples. Your vet may perform any combination of these tests to accurately determine the underlying cause.

How is laryngitis treated in dogs?

If a vet has confirmed the diagnosis and is looking to treat a dog with laryngitis, they will likely recommend anti-inflammatory medicine to help with any swelling of the larynx. Cough medicine may be provided to help deal with the pup's cough while they recover. Keep in mind that you should not give your dog cough medicine designed for humans. This could be toxic to your dog, so wait for a prescription from your veterinarian.

If the issue is due to an airway obstruction, the vet will insert a tracheotomy tube into the dog’s throat, allowing the dog's airway to open up. In severe cases, a dog may require surgery to fix the issue.

Recovery of Canine Laryngitis

Your dog will have a better outcome the sooner their condition is diagnosed and treatment begins. Many causes of laryngitis can be successfully treated with medications and supportive care when dealt with promptly. Left untreated, the larynx or the surrounding cartilage in the airway may experience chronic damage, leading to a worse prognosis.

Your veterinarian will prescribe medication to be administered at home, and provide at-home care instruction 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.

Has your dog been experiencing a persistent dry cough? Contact our Poway vets to have your pup diagnosed and cared for right away!

Experienced Emergency Vet Care in Poway

Animal Emergency Clinic of San Diego is a family-run after-hours and critical care hospital, providing veterinary emergency care since 1985. If your pet is experiencing an emergency, contact us to get the help your pet needs.

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