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Laryngitis in Dogs

Dogs can experience respiratory illness from time to time. These conditions must be treated promptly to avoid serious complications. Here, our Memphis vets talk about laryngitis in dogs including the symptoms, causes and treatment options, as well as when you should seek emergency care.

What is laryngitis in dogs?

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

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

What is causing your dog's laryngitis?

There are a variety of reasons a dog may develop laryngitis. It could be from something as simple as excessive barking, but 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 other dogs. Affected breeds include English Bulldogs, Pekinese, 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

If your dog has laryngitis the most obvious symptom may be a rough-sounding cough. This cough could be wet or dry, but you should notice your dog coughing frequently and appear to be in some distress.

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 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 reporting any symptoms that 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 to Treat a Dog With Laryngitis

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

In the case of severe laryngitis, the first step will be 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 there is an obstruction in the larynx due to excessive swelling, a tracheotomy tube may be placed through an opening in the neck to allow the dog to breathe while they are treated.

If your dog is having trouble breathing, please contact our emergency vets at Animal Emergency Center in Memphis right away.

The Recovery Process for Dogs with 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 experiencing an airway obstruction caused by laryngitis? Contact our Memphis vets right away for emergency veterinary care.

Animal Emergency Center in Memphis

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