Paralysis of the larynx is an upper respiratory disease that commonly found in dogs. This condition occurs when the laryngeal cartilages do not function normally while breathing. Some large breeds of dogs acquire this problem when they are middle-aged or older. Examples are Great Danes, Irish setters and Labrador retrievers. It can be a hereditary problem appearing congenitally in some other breeds such as Siberian huskies, Leonbergers, Bouvier des Flandres, Bulldogs, and many of the racing sled dogs.
The usual symptoms of laryngeal paralysis in dogs are change of voice, dry cough and breathing noisily and with increasing difficulty. The respiratory difficulties become worse with exertion and when the dog is under stress. Vomiting and regurgitation of food is common. The disease progresses gradually over several months or a few years before it becomes apparent from the symptoms. If untreated, this progressive paralysis may culminate in tracheal collapse.
When the dog displays symptoms of respiratory distress indicative of laryngeal paralysis, the veterinarian may examine the upper respiratory tract for abnormalities using an endoscope. The dog may need to be anaesthetized during this procedure.
When laryngeal paralysis is diagnosed, the veterinarian may try to relieve the symptoms of respiratory tract obstruction. If the condition is mild, corticosteroids may give temporary relief. In severe cases, a surgical procedure called tracheotomy is performed and a tube is inserted into the dog’s trachea. In many cases laryngeal paralysis can be successfully treated with surgery.