Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Healthy Dogs

Font Size

Laryngeal Paralysis and Barking Problems in Dogs

This is an acquired disease that occurs in older dogs of the large and giant breeds, particularly Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Irish Setters, St. Bernards, and Great Pyrenees. In Siberian Huskies, Bouviers des Flandres, Bull Terriers, and Dalmatians it occurs as a hereditary defect. In these breeds, dogs with this problem should not be bred.

Laryngeal paralysis results from damage to the nerves that control the movement of the larynx. Trauma and age may be factors. Hypothyroidism may also contribute to this problem.

Recommended Related to Dogs

Mange in Dogs (Canine Scabies)

Mange is a skin disease caused by several species of tiny mites, common external parasites found in companion canines. Some mange mites are normal residents of your dog’s skin and hair follicles, while others are not. All mites can cause mild to severe skin infections if they proliferate.  

Read the Mange in Dogs (Canine Scabies) article > >

A classic sign of laryngeal paralysis is a characteristic croupy or “roaring” noise heard as the dog inhales. Initially it appears during or after exercise. Later it occurs at rest. Another sign is progressive weakening of the bark, which ends in a croaky whisper. In time the dog develops noisy breathing, labored breathing, reduced exercise tolerance, and fainting spells. Laryngeal edema may develop and further compromise the airway, causing respiratory collapse and even death.

The diagnosis is made by examining the vocal cords with a laryngoscope. Paralyzed vocal cords come together in the middle instead of remaining well apart. This produces a tight air passage through the larynx.

Treatment: A number of surgical procedures have been used to enlarge the airway. The technique used most often involves removing both the vocal cords and their supporting cartilage. This relieves the obstruction, but the dog is unable to bark. Surgery may also predispose the dog to aspiration pneumonia, so usually medical therapy is tried first (keep dog calm and cool, and have sedatives and corticosteroids on hand).

Laryngeal Trauma

Choke chain injuries, tight slip collars, or any rope around the neck can fracture the hyoid bone and/or cause compression damage to the nerves of the pharynx and larynx. Other causes of trauma to the larynx include bite wounds and sharp foreign objects such as bones and pins that penetrate the larynx. Dogs with laryngeal injuries often breathe normally at rest but show respiratory distress during exertion.

Treatment: Treatment of laryngeal trauma involves confining and resting the dog and administering anti-inflammatory medications. If the larynx is severely traumatized, a tracheostomy (an operation in which an opening is made through the skin into the trachea to establish a new airway) may be required. Choke chain injuries can be prevented by using a buckle collar, head halter, or chest harness.

Laryngeal Collapse

This is a late stage in airway obstruction. Pressure changes in the upper airway caused by stenotic nares, an elongated soft palate, laryngeal paralysis, or everted laryngeal saccules stretch the ligaments that support the laryngeal cartilages. These cartilages gradually collapse inward and block the airway. At this stage any change in the dog’s need for air can cause acute respiratory insufficiency and cardiac arrest.

Treatment: The first step is to surgically correct predisposing factors. If symptoms persist, the dog may benefit from a permanent tracheostomy.

WebMD Veterinary Reference from "Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook"

Today on WebMD

boxer dog
Slideshow
dog on couch
Evaluator
 
bad dog
Slideshow
Sad dog and guacamole
Slideshow
 
Pit bull looking up
Article
Pets: Is My Dog Normal
Slideshow
 
Dog scratching behind ear
Slideshow
dog catching frisbee
Slideshow
 
Dog Breed RMQ
Quiz
puppy eating
Slideshow
 
pooldle
Slideshow
ashamed yorkshire terrier
Slideshow