Laryngeal Conditions


Laryngeal Inflammation (Laryngitis)

Unlike the windpipe, the mucus membrane lining of the larynx does not contain the protective hair-like structures called cilia that waft away mucus and debris. Any condition that increases mucus will cause a pet to "clear his throat" to remove any debris. The most common causes of an inflammation to a dog’s larynx are excess barking or excess coughing. This causes a hoarse change of voice, even the loss of barking sounds. Laryngitis is uncommon in cats.

Laryngeal Paralysis

This is a condition of older dogs, especially Labradors. In Bouviers des Flandres, Bull Terriers, Dalmatians and Siberian Huskies it is thought to be hereditary. In retrievers and setters the cause is unknown. Individuals with laryngeal paralysis develop a progressive weakness of bark leading to a harsh noise as a dog inhales. Eventually breathing becomes laboured and difficult particularly in hot weather. An affected individual has reduced capacity for exercise and may collapse in a faint. It is rare in cats.

Reverse Sneezing In Dogs

This is a curious condition, not uncommon in small breeds, Yorkshire terriers in particular, in which an affected dog snorts inwards in a sometimes violent paroxysm lasting up to a minute. It often occurs when a pet gets excited, for example when you return home. After an episode your dog behaves completely normally. The exact cause of laryngospasm is unknown although massaging from the larynx forward may shorten an episode. Episodes may be frequent but are never prolonged. If your dog has an attack of reverse sneezing and collapses see us to ensure there is not a foreign body obstructing the larynx.

The Anatomically Disadvantaged - Flat-Faced Pets

Flat-faced breeds (Brachycephalics) such as Persian cats, Boston terriers, Bulldogs, Pekes, Pugs and Shih Tzus, and moderately flat-faced breeds including the Cavalier King Charles Spaniels may have two structural defects, small nostrils and elongated soft palates, that interfere with breathing. Narrow nostrils make breathing difficult. An elongated soft palate hangs down, partially obstructing the airway. Pets with loose, slack, soft palates are inclined to snore. The intensity and frequency of snoring increases with age. More severely affected pets may snort, gag, even faint. The condition worsens over time, as soft palate tissue looses its elasticity.


When necessary, both of these conditions are corrected by reconstructive surgery, especially in dogs. Small nostrils are enlarged by removing a wedge of nasal skin and cartilage. An elongated soft palate is reduced by simply shortening it. When possible, a decision to operate is postponed until a pet is physically mature.

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