Laryngitis in Dogs

Written By hannah hollinger
Published: 11/21/2016Updated: 10/08/2021
Veterinary reviewed by Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS
Laryngitis in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

What are Laryngitis?

While often caused by a bacterial or viral infection, laryngitis can be a sign of another underlying issue, and can accompany such conditions as tracheobronchitis, distemper, heart disease, trauma, or an issue with the internal tissues, such as paralysis of the larynx or a trachea problem. The occasional to constant coughs can cause changes in vocalization, and the swelling from inflammation can lead to an obstructed airway in extreme cases. If the affected dog cannot cool itself down by panting, it may collapse. Many of the causes of laryngitis can be treated, and medical attention should be sought immediately for any breathing difficulties.

Laryngitis is the condition of an inflamed larynx, often caused by an infection. The larynx, or voice box, is the cartilage that prevents choking by closing off the trachea during swallowing. Laryngitis usually starts with a dry cough, but as the fluid builds up and the swelling of the larynx increases, it can affect the heart rate, breathing, and can lead to respiratory distress if not treated.

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Average Cost

$500

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Symptoms of Laryngitis in Dogs

Symptoms of laryngitis can include:

  • Dry, short cough 
  • Soft, moist and painful cough
  • Gagging or retching
  • Swelled larynx
  • Vocal changes e.g. a hoarse bark
  • Bad breath
  • Difficult and noisy breathing
  • Difficult and painful swallowing
  • Open mouth and lowered head stance
  • High pitched breathing
  • Slowed respiration
  • Bluish gums
  • Increased heart rate
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Excessive panting
  • Collapse
  • Suffocation

Causes of Laryngitis in Dogs

Laryngitis is usually caused by a bacterial or viral infection, but it can be caused by another underlying issue. Causes can include:

  • Upper respiratory infection that is bacterial, viral or parasitic
  • Inhalation of smoke, dust, allergens or gas
  • Insect bites
  • Trapped foreign objects
  • Excessive barking
  • Laryngeal trauma, such as a breathing tube placement or a bite wound
  • Tracheobronchitis
  • Tracheitis
  • Heart disease
  • Lung disease
  • Distemper
  • Gastroesophageal reflux, or GERD, a digestive disorder
  • Laryngeal paralysis
  • Laryngeal abnormality, such as a granuloma or tumor
  • Cancer
  • Brachycephalic condition, or dogs with a flattened face, and a shorter larynx and nasal passages. Affected breeds are English Bulldogs, Pugs, and Pekinese.

Diagnosis of Laryngitis in Dogs

Help your veterinarian correctly diagnose your dog by reporting any symptoms you’ve noticed. Other information such as your dog’s breed, travel history, environment, medical history and medications taken, any incidences of trauma, vocal changes, and any contact with other animals can help your veterinarian come to a diagnosis of laryngitis. A definite diagnosis can be made based on these factors, a physical examination, an exam of the larynx, test results, and your dog’s response to any treatment. Your veterinarian will also observe your dog’s respiration.

Other tests may include a urinalysis, serum analysis, bronchoscopy, cytologic exam of bronchoalveolar fluids, gastroduodenoscopy, tissue biopsy,  chest X-rays, neurological exam, endocrine studies, EMGs, and culture samples. Identification of the underlying cause is needed to be able to correctly treat the condition.

Treatment of Laryngitis in Dogs

Most mild cases are straightforward and resolve quickly with minimal intervention.

In the treatment of severe laryngitis, the first goal is to stabilize your dog if unstable. This can be done by relieving any airway obstruction, reducing inflammation, and getting oxygen into the lungs. Oxygen therapy, intubation, and ventilator support can be used, often with sedation if needed. If there is an obstruction in the larynx, a tracheotomy tube may be placed through an opening in the neck to allow the dog to breathe while the problem is fixed.

Any underlying cause needs to be treated, as well as concurrent conditions. Treatments can include anti-inflammatories to reduce the swelling, often along with systemic antibiotics. Diuretic drugs can be prescribed to eliminate fluid from the larynx and lungs. Cough suppressants and bronchodilators, which create bronchodilation and may reduce swelling, can be used. Antiparasitics, antimicrobials, and antacids are given as needed. Any heart or lung disease, abnormality, or cancer is treated appropriately.

Surgery may be needed for some conditions, such as to correct a muscular laryngeal issue or to remove obstructions. Supplementary care may be prescribed to help recovery, such as humidified air, diet modification, external cooling, and confinement in a clean, dust free environment.

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Recovery of Laryngitis in Dogs

The earlier treatment is given, the better the outcome is for your dog. Many causes of laryngitis can be treated with supportive care and medications. If the larynx or any surrounding cartilage areas in the airway incur chronic damage, the prognosis can be worse. Your veterinarian will likely prescribe medication to be administered at home, and a list of supplementary care to help your dog recover. Always notify your veterinarian if your dog has continuing breathing difficulties.

Laryngitis Average Cost

From 457 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,200

Average Cost

$500

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Laryngitis Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Boxer

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Ten Years

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17 found this helpful

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17 found this helpful

My pet has the following symptoms:
Coughing, Hoarse Bark, Swallowing Motions
Should I be concerned about these symptoms?

Sept. 27, 2020

Answered by Dr. Michele K. DVM

17 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. If these are new behaviors that you are noticing, I would be a little concerned, yes. It would be best to have them seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine your pet and see what might be causing this, and let you know what treatment might help.

Oct. 11, 2020

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Golden Retriever

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Four Months

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1 found this helpful

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1 found this helpful

My pet has the following symptoms:
Coughing
My dog suddenly started coughing and one time she lost her voice and she also gags while coughing and she's hot.

Sept. 27, 2020

Answered by Dr. Michele K. DVM

1 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. She may be having a problem with kennel cough, as it is contagious and common in puppies if they are not vaccinated for it. If she is still having this problem, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them and see what might be going on, and get treatment if needed.

Oct. 12, 2020

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Laryngitis Average Cost

From 457 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,200

Average Cost

$500

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