The larynx is a small organ located between the trachea and the pharynx that protects the entrance of the airways and is involved in the ability to make sounds. It is composed of cartilages that form the nut and vocal cords. Laryngeal paralysis in dogs decreases or prevents the entry of air due to immobilization of the laryngeal muscles.

Why does it occur?

In a healthy dog, the larynx opens during breathing and closes in the respiratory pause to prevent saliva and food from entering the respiratory system.

E n dogs with laryngeal paralysis, the muscles normally open airways do not function properly. When the animal inspires, the walls of the airways do not expand; In severe cases, it even closes, which causes choking.

This pathology can be congenital or acquired. The latter is the most common form: it appears in dogs older than an average of 9 or 10 years and is much more frequent in males than in females.

It is typical that acquired laryngeal paralysis occurs in large and medium breeds such as the labrador, the golden retriever, the St. Bernard, or the Irish setter.

Some dog breeds have a genetic predisposition to suffer from laryngeal paralysis: the Flanders Bouvier, the Siberian husky, the rottweiler, the Dalmatian, or the bull terrier are some of these breeds. Obesity is another factor that can aggravate the situation of the sick dog.

Symptoms of laryngeal paralysis in dogs

In the early stages of the disease, you can hear a noise when breathing. Other signs are:

  • Hoarseness when panting.
  • Cough, especially after exercise.
  • Growing gasps when the dog is calm or at rest.
  • Hoarse barks
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Exercise intolerance

The dog may show an expression of anxiety, with bulging eyes and the chest expanding very quickly.

Another consequence of laryngeal paralysis in dogs is overheating. The dogs are cooled by breathing, for which they keep their mouths open. If the animal presents this pathology, it is much harder to maintain body temperature.

In more advanced stages, dogs have constant breathing problems. They do not accept to be pulled from the collar, and the noise they generate with breathing is getting louder and may need urgent veterinary assistance.

It is best to go as soon as possible if we suspect laryngeal paralysis. The veterinarian will perform a series of tests, such as a chest x-ray, blood tests, a detailed examination of the throat … and decide which is the most appropriate treatment in each case.

Treatments of laryngeal paralysis

In emergency situations, possible intubation and assisted breathing will be necessary for a short time with the sedated animal. External cooling may also be necessary to reduce its temperature.

In mild cases, laryngeal paralysis can be treated with medications and some indications, such as avoiding overweight, intense exercise, heat, or the use of punishment collars.

Oxygen therapies can relieve respiratory crises, but it is not a definitive cure since the airways remain ‘defective.’ There is surgery to solve these cases, which consists of an intervention to keep the airways open by means of a suture that opens the walls of the larynx.

This surgery is called a tieback, and it is objective is to increase the diameter of the airways to facilitate the passage of air and, consequently, breathing and thermoregulation.

The veterinarian will be the one who will assess whether surgery is the best option according to the patient and the type of procedure itself. After the operation, the dog will need some care after surgery to avoid complications but can make a completely normal life.