The Throat


Sore Throat - Pharyngitis

Pharyngitis is rarely a local condition but rather is almost always associated with other infections in the mouth, sinuses or respiratory tract. Affected pets often have a fever, are lethargic and may cough, sneeze or gag. On examination the throat is red and inflamed. Pus is sometimes seen. Treatment depends upon the cause of the overall infection. Non-steroid anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) relieve discomfort while antibiotics eliminate bacterial infection Soft food that does not irritate the throat is fed for a week.


Tonsillitis appears to affect small dog breeds more severely. It is usually part of a more generalised infection of the throat or respiratory system. Affected pets have a fever, are depressed and usually off their food. We usually treat with NSAIDs and antibiotics. In very rare circumstances tumours can develop in the tonsils (which consist of lymphatic tissue). Removing chronically infected tonsils (tonsillectomy) is a rare procedure other than in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels where it is most common. Associated soft palate and adenoid tissue problems may be corrected at the same time.

Elongated Soft Palate

The soft palate in brachycephalic dogs is as long as in other pets of the same size and weight. The compression of the face however, also compresses the soft palate, causing it to hang down usually touching or even obstructing the cartilage of the voice box (larynx). This leads to gagging or retching, and snoring when relaxed or sleeping. Although the problem is called an "elongated" soft palate, it is in fact a problem caused by a normal soft palate in a "truncated " face. An elongated soft palate predisposes to pharyngitis and tonsillitis. Dogs that suffer from this condition have the slack surgically removed from the soft palate, a relatively simple procedure.


Gagging occurs when muscles at the back of the throat (pharynx) contract. It is triggered by irritation in the pharynx itself but also by these causes.

Irritation in the nose, palate or nasal sinuses

  • cleft palate
  • parasites
  • tumours
  • foreign bodies or obstructions

Irritation in the respiratory tract

  • tracheal collapse
  • laryngeal paralysis
  • kennel cough
  • parasites
  • tumours
  • foreign bodies

Irritation in the esophagus or stomach

  • megaesophagus
  • inflammations
  • tumours
  • foreign bodies

Conditions outside the digestive tract

  • Fluid build-up around the heart (pericardial effusion)
  • Middle ear disorders
  • Kidney disease

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