Canine laryngitis is a relatively common respiratory condition that affects the vocal cords, but it can become quite serious if not treated promptly. In this post, our Kent vets discuss the causes, signs, and treatment of laryngitis in dogs.
What is dog laryngitis?
Laryngitis in dogs is a condition in which the animal's larynx becomes inflamed. 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.
Causes of Laryngitis in Dogs
There are a variety of reasons a dog may develop laryngitis. It could be from something as simple as excessive barking, 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 other dogs. Affected breeds include English Bulldogs, Pekinese, and Pugs.
Other underlying conditions that may result in canine laryngitis can include:
- 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)
- Insect bites
- Gastroesophageal reflux
- Upper respiratory infection that is bacterial, viral, or parasitic
Signs & Symptoms of Canine Laryngitis
The most common symptom associated with canine laryngitis is a rough cough. This cough could be wet or dry, but you should notice your dog coughing frequently and appear to be in some distress.
The most common symptoms aside from a cough 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.
A final diagnosis can be determined based on 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.
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 identify 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.
If the issue is due to an airway obstruction, the vet will insert a tracheotomy tube into the dog’s throat, allowing the dog to breathe easier. In severe cases, a dog may require surgery to fix the issue.
Recovery of Canine Laryngitis
The quicker treatment begins, the better the outcome will be for your dog. 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.