Laryngeal Paralysis, a common condition in middle- to old-age dogs, is usually seen in large breed dogs such as Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Saint Bernards, Newfoundlands, and Pointers. In hot, humid weather or with strenuous exercise—the symptoms can snowball leading to respiratory distress and collapse.
The larynx, located at the back of the throat over the opening to the trachea (wind pipe), opens when the dog is breathing and closes when the dog is eating or drinking. With this condition the larynx remains closed leading to difficulty in breathing. In most cases this condition is idiopathic, meaning there is no underlying cause.
- Early symptoms include noisy breathing, dry cough, and voice changes
- Progressive symptoms include difficulty breathing during exercise, easily fatigued, and cough or gag when eating and drinking
- Symptoms may progress for months or even years before becoming a problem
- The surgery most commonly performed is called laryngeal tie back
- The laryngeal tie back procedure carries the risk of aspiration pneumonia
- A tracheostomy can be performed as a last resort
With the pet owner’s diligence after surgery, a good quality of life can be achieved.