Laryngeal Paralysis in Dogs
If not caught very early and treated could very easily take your dog’s life

Laryngeal paralysis in dogs can do much more damage than just affecting their voice.

If it is not discovered by an owner and then quickly treated by a professional, it can very easily lead to gagging, coughing, or difficulty in breathing.

If it becomes severe enough, it may also cause your dog to faint and in some cases may take their life.


Laryngeal paralysis is a disorder where the nerves that control both the muscles as well as the cartridge that are responsible for opening and closing the larynx do not operate properly.

The larynx, also called the voice box, as a result of this disorder, will cause changes in your dog’s voice.

However, this will become the least of the troubles your dog will face as it will also lead to difficulty in eating and drinking.

More importantly,however, they will have trouble breathing properly.

The larynx in your dog is located at the back of their throat.

When it is operating normally air moves from their mouth or nose through the larynx.

Once the air is in the larynx, it than travels into your dog’s trachea, or their windpipe.

The laryngeal cartilages under normal circumstances are pulled open during the breathing process.

However, with laryngeal paralysis in dogs, these cartilages do not open or close properly, as a result, it becomes very difficult for you dog to take in air in a normal manner.

DalmatiansThe first symptom of Laryngeal paralysis in dogs is a change in their voice


Laryngeal paralysis in dogs to this date still has no known cause, but it is believed to be congenital, meaning it is acquired.

This is considered the most common cause.

When it is also believed that in some cases it may be a secondary condition that is the result of an injury to your dog’s larynx, the laryngeal nerves, or the result of a neuromuscular disease.

It is most common in large breeds as they get older and include Labrador and Golden retrievers, Saint Bernard's, as well as Siberian Huskies.

However, if it is caused by an injury, it can and does affect any breed at any age.

In the larger breeds, there are generally no problems at birth through middle age; but as they do begin to age, these nerves and muscles start to lose their ability to function properly.

However, although it is not quite as common, laryngeal paralysis in dogs can also affect some breeds of puppies.

In these situations, the symptoms will start to appear somewhere between the ages of two to six months.

These breeds will include Dalmatians, Bouvier des Flandres, Siberian Huskies, and English Bulldogs.

With the Dalmatian breed, it is usually part of a larger collection of conditions and as such is considered a complex. In this situation, it is usually recommend that the affected Dalmatians are not bred.


Laryngeal paralysis in dogs has several symptoms, but the first one is always with your dog’s voice.

No one knows your dog any better than you do, and if there voice is starting to change, that is the time to take action.

However, in most cases it is ignored, and the next set of symptoms you will notice will be gagging or coughing by your dog when they try to eat or drink.

Coughing is perhaps the worst sound you can ever hear from your dog and if the voice change does not signal to you that something is wrong, the coughing should.

As this condition increases in severity, your dog will now be showing signs of either a labored breathing or a very noisy breathing.

Once this occurs, it is becoming very serious, and the next symptom is referred to as Cyanosis.

Cyanosis is a situation where your dog will literally start to turn blue due to the lack of oxygen in their system because of this disorder.

Syncope or fainting is usually one of the last symptoms to occur, and if it does reach this stage, your dog may not have much longer to live without emergency treatment.

It is estimated that about 80 percent of all cases of laryngeal paralysis in dogs is diagnosed in the latter stages of the disorder.

Diagnosis is usually done while your dog has been placed under a light form of anesthesia.

If your dog does indeed have laryngeal paralysis, their laryngeal cartilages will not open properly when your dog inhales during this process.


Laryngeal paralysis in dogs has one very sad fact about the treatment process.

In the vast majority of cases where the symptoms were not noticed or ignored, the only form of successful treatment will be surgery; usually an emergency surgery.

However, this type of treatment can easily be avoided. Most mild cases of this disorder will respond very well to several management techniques if it is caught early enough.

The first form of treatment will be managing your dog’s weight.

Obesity makes it very difficult for a dog to properly move air either in or out because the extra weight is compressing their diaphragm as well as their chest wall.

Obese dogs will also have a much tougher time managing excessive heat and will pant a lot more, which exasperates the situation.

As a result, the next form of treatment in mild conditions will be to restrict your dog’s exposure to excess heat as well as monitoring their lifestyle to prevent any type of exertion.

Oral sedatives as well as tranquilizers are also very effective, but there is one other method that can make or break mild forms of laryngeal paralysis.

Throw out your dog’s neck collar so you are never tempted to use it again and replace it with a harness.

A harness is actually much more effective in controlling larger dogs and will do wonders as helping to manage this disorder.

If the laryngeal paralysis has become severe, surgery is the only option.

The most common type of surgery for this disorder is a procedure called the laryngeal tie back surgery.

This will involve putting one or more permanent sutures in your dog to hold their cartilage open so that enough air can pass through.

Most dogs do extremely well after this procedure, but like any surgery, there is always a risk.

The risks include excessive bleeding or inhalation of their stomach contents during the surgery, or inhalation of food and water directly after the surgery.

These risks are something you should discuss with your veterinarian if it is not an emergency situation before the surgery is done.

It is helpful to also know that during this type of procedure, it is usually done on only one side of your dog and it accomplishes two major goals.

It provides an adequate air flow and it reduces the risk of aspiration or inhalations.


Laryngeal paralysis in dogs can become a very serious situation that can take your dog life, but it can also easily be corrected if caught early.

If you watch for the symptoms and identify them very early, it will never reach the serious stage.

In this case, it will only be a matter of controlling your dog’s weight, exposure to heat, and throwing away their collar permanently and replacing it with a harness.

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