When the walls of the throat, known as pharynx, become inflamed, it is referred to as pharyngitis. Bacterial as well as viral infections of the upper respiratory tract such as canine distemper may result in pharyngitis in dogs. Oral cancers, tonsillitis and injury to the pharynx by sharp objects etc., can also cause pharyngitis. Dogs are especially prone to throat injuries from pieces of bones and sticks, pins, thorns and porcupine quills.
Difficulty in swallowing food is the main symptom of pharyngitis. The dog may have hunger and thirst as usual, but it may find it painful to eat and drink. Severe inflammation and development of abscesses in the throat may lead to potentially dangerous airway obstruction.
When the dog displays difficulty in swallowing, the veterinarian may first conduct a physical examination of the mouth and then follow it up with an endoscopy or x-ray of the throat. The fluid from the affected area or the lesions may be cultured to identify the infective organism, if any.
If the pharyngitis is caused by a bacterial disease, antibiotic treatment is initiated. Other reasons such as oral cancers are treated according to protocol. If a foreign object or an injury is responsible for the inflammation, surgical removal of the object or the damaged tissue may be necessary, followed by administration of drugs to prevent infection and to reduce pain and inflammation.