Laryngeal paralysis in dogs is characterized by a failure of the windpipe to open correctly when your pup breathes in, instead the sides of the windpipe are sucked into the opening. In severe cases, laryngeal paralysis can lead to suffocation, but when diagnosed early there are treatment options available. Our White Settlement vets explain... 

What is laryngeal paralysis?

The larynx of your dog is made up of a series of separate cartilage plates in the throat (voicebox). The larynx is in charge of blocking off your pet's lungs when he or she is eating or drinking, and opening the windpipe wider when a deep breath is required.

The movement of the cartilage plates is controlled by specific muscles in your dog's throat. When the nerves that control those muscles become weak or paralyzed, the cartilage plates become unable to move properly and begin to collapse inward, resulting in laryngeal paralysis.

What can cause sudden paralysis in dogs?

Dogs are frequently diagnosed with idiopathic laryngeal paralysis, which means that the cause of the condition is unknown. Idiopathic laryngeal paralysis is frequently seen as a symptom of neuromuscular disease. When this occurs, the condition is known as geriatric onset laryngeal paralysis and polyneuropathy (GOLPP).

Tumors or lesions in the neck or chest, trauma to the throat, hormonal disorders such as hypothyroidism and Cushing's disease, and congenital issues have all been linked to laryngeal paralysis in dogs.

While most dogs with laryngeal paralysis are middle-aged or older, it has been shown that Bouvier de Flandres, Siberian Huskies, Bull Terriers, and Dalmatians have an increased risk for the congenital form and frequently show signs of the condition when young.

What are the signs of dog laryngeal paralysis?

Symptoms of laryngeal paralysis in dogs can be vague and may not always be taken seriously. The condition is most often seen in medium to large dogs who are middle-aged or older. For this reason, some of the signs of laryngeal paralysis can be mistaken for slowing down or lack of fitness due to the aging process, cardiopulmonary disease, bronchitis, or difficulties related to obesity.

Common symptoms of dog laryngeal paralysis include:

  • Coughing following exercise
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Change in the sound of your dog's bark
  • Coughing when eating or drinking

Sudden and severe cases of laryngeal paralysis can result in a blue tinge to the mouth caused by respiratory distress or even collapse.

Can dog laryngeal paralysis be treated?

Surgery can be very effective if your dog has severe laryngeal paralysis or the congenital form of the condition. Arytenoid lateralization by tie-back is a surgical procedure that involves tying back the collapsed cartilage on one side of your puppy's throat to prevent breathing obstruction.

This surgery is known to be very successful in many cases and can greatly improve the dog's quality of life.

Are there alternatives to surgery for laryngeal paralysis in dogs?

If your pooch has mild laryngeal paralysis your vet may prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs, sedatives, antibiotics, or doxepin to help reduce the severity of your dog's breathing difficulties.

Do not allow your pet to take part in strenuous exercise in hot weather and avoid putting a collar around your dog's neck (have your dog wear a harness on walks).

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.

If your dog is showing signs of laryngeal paralysis contact our White Settlement vets today to book an examination for your pooch.