Laryngeal Disease in Dogs

The voice box or larynx performs many function which range from protecting the lungs from aspiration during swallowing and regurgitation, allowing for vocalization and serving as a passage for airflow from external environment to the lungs. A larynx disease is a condition which alters normal structure and/or function of the voice box or larynx.

Laryngeal paralysis is characterized by improper function of the muscle that controls the voice box (aretynoid cartilages of the larynx). 

Normally, the voice box (the "larynx") opens as the dog inhales and partially closes during exhaling.  Laryngeal paralysis (LP) occurs when the nerves controlling the voice box slowly but progressively lose their function.  When dogs normally breath, the voice box is opened permitting inhaled air to pass to the lungs. LP diminishes that ability when the tissue folds edging the sides of the voice box either do not move at all or move out of time with the phases of breathing.

There are a few breeds like the Bouvier des Flandres that have a hereditary form of the disease which can affect young dogs. In golden retrievers, laryngeal paralysis is an acquired disease in which the larynx does not function properly.

Common symptoms of this condition include


Noisy respiration and a high-pitched sound when breathing in (most common)

Change in character of the bark

Occasional coughing

Reduced activity, exercise intolerance

Elevated rectal temperature (especially during warm weather months)

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