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What are Pharyngitis?

Your pet may not be able to vocalize that his throat is causing him pain; you may only become aware when you see visible signs such as a froth, bad breath, or sneezing. This is a very common condition in dogs, though it can be indicative of a more serious problem.

Pharyngitis in dogs is an upper respiratory condition when the pharynx, otherwise known as the walls of your dog’s throat, becomes swollen from either a viral or  bacterial infection like distemper or gum disease, cancers of the mouth, injury to your dog’s throat by a sharp object he was chewing on, or his tonsils.

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Symptoms of Pharyngitis in Dogs

There are a handful of symptoms that your dog may experience with pharyngitis. Make sure that you keep track of your dog’s symptoms and their progression so your veterinarian can correctly diagnose him. 

  • A dry cough, that will be more prominent at night
  • Inability to swallow easily
  • Swollen tonsils
  • Red pharynx that may be covered in a frothy white mucus
  • The outside of the throat may feel swollen to the touch
  • Vomiting
  • Gagging 
  • Drooling 
  • Possible abscesses in the throat that will complicate breathing 
  • Normal desire for appetite but slower eating due to pain
  • Fever
  • Swollen gums
  • Bad breath
  • Sneezing
  • Possible bloody discharge if he has swallowed a sharp object

Types

There are many different types of diseases that can share the above listed symptoms. In order to correctly diagnose the problem, you will need to see your veterinarian so that she can rule out other conditions. Just a few of the conditions that may have similar symptoms are listed here. 

Appetite Loss

  • Heartworm
  • Parvovirus
  • Lyme disease
  • Lymphoma
  • Jaundice

Cough

  • Distemper
  • Bronchitis
  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
  • Pneumonia
  • Nasal mites
  • Cleft palate

Coughing up white foam

  • Kennel cough 
  • Bronchitis

Fever

  • Distemper
  • Rabies
  • Parvovirus
  • Kennel cough
  • Osteomyelitis
  • Encephalitis
  • Leukemia
  • Meningitis

Gagging

  • Tracheal collapse
  • Bloat
  • Cleft palate

Vomiting

  • Distemper
  • Parvovirus
  • Giardia
  • Chocolate poisoning
  • Food poisoning
  • Addison’s disease
  • Kidney failure
  • Lymphoma
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Causes of Pharyngitis in Dogs

The most common cause of a throat infection in your dog is due to a change in the acidity of his saliva. Some causes of both the change in acid level and pharyngitis are listed below. 

Pharyngitis

  • Damage to the throat by a sharp object such as parts of bones, parts of sticks, thorns, or porcupine quills
  • Cancer in the mouth
  • Bacterial infections in the upper respiratory system
  • Viral infections like distemper
  • Tonsillitis

Change in saliva acidity

  • Infections in the respiratory system like kennel cough
  • Sinus infections
  • Injury to the mouth and throat
  • Something stuck in the throat
  • Tooth or gum disease
  • Kidney or liver failure
  • Parvovirus and distemper along with other systemic diseases 
  • Autoimmune diseases such as canine lupus or hypothyroidism
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Diagnosis of Pharyngitis in Dogs

Because so many conditions share symptoms, your veterinarian may need to run multiple tests to ensure she has correctly diagnosed your dog’s health concerns. Your veterinarian will look at symptoms both collectively and individually to determine the exact problem your dog is facing. Any cultures that the veterinary team has taken will be used to identify the strain of infection or virus affecting your dog. You can also keep track of your dog’s symptoms, noting when they started, how they have progressed, any changes in your dog’s behavior or eating habits, and any pain he may be having. By keeping an eye on your pet’s symptoms and changed behavior you will be able to give your veterinarian a better chance of knowing where to begin. Steps to the diagnosis may include:

  • Physical examination 
  • X-rays of your dog’s throat
  • Endoscopic examination of the throat 
  • Cultures of any discharged fluids
  • Blood test to pinpoint an infection
  • Cultures of any scratched areas in the throat
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Treatment of Pharyngitis in Dogs

Treatment for pharyngitis will depend on the exact cause. If for instance, the cause is a bacterial infection, your veterinarian will start a prescribed antibiotic regimen. Antibiotics will also be used for a respiratory infection, along with any sinus infection.

In other cases where an oral cancer is the cause of the pharyngitis, your veterinarian will treat that cancer in an appropriate manner. This could involve surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation. When a foreign object is found in your dog’s throat, surgery and antibiotics will be required.

For a tooth infection, your dog will undergo an extraction of the infected tooth, usually after being on antibiotics. Your veterinarian will also suggest a dental cleaning and removal of any plaque and tartar buildup so another infection doesn’t take place. When the cause is an illness like kidney failure, a modified diet, medication, and possibly IV therapy will be necessary.

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Recovery of Pharyngitis in Dogs

Recovery of pharyngitis has a very good outlook and once the underlying cause has been treated, it is usually resolved fairly quickly . In cases where there are systemic illnesses, cancer, or autoimmune diseases, recovery and management may be more extensive and take longer.

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Pharyngitis Average Cost

From 563 quotes ranging from $800 - $2,000

Average Cost

$1,000

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Pharyngitis Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Pit Bull

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Nine Months

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Noisy Breathing

She all the sudden got sick then ate grass and I tried stopping her when she was eating leaves. Now her breathing sounds like shes snoring every breath.

Dec. 27, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

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1 Recommendations

I'm sorry to hear this. Vomiting followed by abnormal breathing could indicate she has aspirated the vomit (the vomit went down the windpipe). This can be a real emergency and she should be seen immediately as she may need oxygen and antibiotics.

Dec. 27, 2020

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Pomeranian

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Three Years

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Unknown severity

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3 found helpful

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Unknown severity

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Loss Of Appetite

Dog hadn't eaten for 2days after eating a dried fish. Glucose given on the IV but the dog died in 3rd day.May I know the reason for the death

July 11, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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3 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I'm so sorry for your loss. It is possible that there were toxins in the fish, as bacteria can be quite devastating to the GI tract. It may be a good idea to call your veterinarian, as they may have a better idea after having worked with your dog. I am sorry again, for your loss.

July 11, 2020

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Mario

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Japanese Spitz

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1 Year

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Painful Urination
Breathing Difficulty
Cant Move Legs
Lose Of Appetite
Pain In Throat

Hey.. my pup mario swallowed a bone by accident a week ago and cried a lot after he swallowed it.. We helped him by tapping his back and pulling up his hind legs.. we rushed him to the vet and he vomited once while on the car.. (he sometimes vomits while travelling) there was no bone or anything in his vomit. After reaching the local vet he barked once when he saw another dog and then stopped. The vet looked at him and said that thers no bone stuck in his throat and that he’ll be fine.. but from that day he lost his appetite. I tried to feed him milk he only took a sip or two and then moved away as if in pain. And he also lost his active mood.. he was a very active pup who never sits still when he is released. But now he feels week and lies under the couch all day. We were concerned and took him to the vet again. And he gave him an antibiotic injection and some medication for gas and apetite. We waited for two days but he was not getting better instead he also stopped sipping milk.. we were very concerned and took him to an advanced vet hospital where they took his X Ray and examined it to confirm that there was no foreign body in his throat.. they then told me that he has a swelling in his throat and probably has an infection. And they also told me that due to the swelling his breathing is mildly heavy. They prescribed 5 doses of antibiotic injections (one per day) along with 100ml of iv solution (DNS). We’ve been giving him this for 3 days now. He was feeling a bit relaxed for a while but then on the 3rd day (today) he developed a breathing problem.. his breathing has become very heavy and forced.. he feels week and he cannot lie down for more than 10 mins because his breathing is difficult. He just stands there and breaths for a while and walks around all the time.. he hasn’t slept at all till now ( about 20 hours ). We’re very worried and don’t know what else to do.. seeing him in pain is really difficult and makes me wanna cry.. how long will he be like this.. how long will he take to recover? Do I have to take him to the vet again and do an endoscopic examination? They hesitate to do it because he has to given Anastasia for the process.. what should I do?

June 21, 2018

Mario's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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I do think that Mario needs to be seen again by your veterinarian, possibly for repeat x-rays to see what is going on with his lungs. It does not sound like he is getting any better, and is in fact deteriorating. He should be responding to the medication if it is going to help, by now. I hope that he is okay.

June 21, 2018

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Carina

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German Shepherd

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2 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

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I'm wanted to get a second opinion. Few weeks ago my 2 yr old sheperd, Carina, cut her pad. I took her to the vet because I could not get the bleeding to stop. They bandaged her up and told me to keep an eye on it sent me home with some antibiotics. And told me to try the antibiotics to see how she was because they know that she does not take well to any type of medication or antibiotics. Obviously should not take well to the antibiotics but I did give her four doses and kept wound clean 3 times a day. Carina is a extremely active and somewhat obnoxious if not giving attention type of dog. About a week ago one morning I was talking to the neighbor through the fence normally she be barking incessantly trying to get me to throw her stick. She barked once and her bark was hoarse and immediately stopped. In that early afternoon I was sitting out of the front of my house she was not playful and just sat in the grass which caused me to check her temperature. I noticed her temperature was 100.5. Throughout the night it ended up getting up to 103.7 but I ended up getting it to go down with cool rags and the fan. I took her to the vet the very next morning the minute they opened. They said for the most part she was fine and then her wound was healing nicely and I could stop the antibiotics and didn't think much of the fever or the bark. She is not really coughed or barked and she still eats and drinks. However the first day that I gave her the antibiotics after the cut she did throw up something but I figured it was because she did not have a full meal and she doesn't take well two antibiotics. She coughs sometimes and almost rarely but there are a couple of coughs that she has but it's usually after her eating grass or maybe taking in some water after going in the lake. She is not reading a fever anymore but very lethargic and doesn't want to play as much as she used to but still does. The vet seems to think she's okay but these are just symptoms that she does not usually exhibit and I'm worried if I should go get a second opinion from another vet so I thought I'd see what you thought. I was reading up on that disease about the pharyngitis or something more serious. She has had some of the symptoms like drooling but that was several weeks ago and that doesn't always happen now. About a month ago I noticed that her neck might have been a little bit more swollen but it didn't have any other symptoms at that time and it does not seem swallowing now. She hacked sometimes but it's usually after eating grass because she's always had a digestive issue. And I don't know if these are common things or something that I should be more concerned about if a dog had some kind of complication like kennel cough or the above-listed issue with the coughing and gagging and vomiting happen all the time would you see them all together or could they should be spaced out over a couple of months maybe I'm just reading too much into stuff.p.s.she no longer has a fever but she will not greet me when I come into the house she is very lack of energy and doesn't want to play in the morning after waking up and she will not bark and I'm guessing it's because it's hard for her she eats all food but won't eat her kibble but will definitely eat chicken or eggs or any other food I made for her so she doesn't have a complete loss of appetite

May 30, 2018

Carina's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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I'm sorry that Carina is having these problems. Without seeing her, it is hard for me to comment, but it seems the effects that you are seeing may be unrelated to the original problem. If she doesn't tend to tolerate medications well, this may be her body getting through the antibiotics, and once they stop, things may return to normal. She may have injured her throat, completely unrelated to anything else, as she does sound like an exuberant dog. If things don't improve once she is off her medication and her pad is healed, it would be worth a follow up with your veterinarian.

May 30, 2018

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Evolet

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White Shepherd

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4 Years

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

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Hello, my female white German Shepherd recently has a decreased appetite. She’s also a very active dog that has suddenly gotten lazy. She just had heat 2 weeks ago so know it’s not that. The little I urge her to eat makes her give a painful expression and she usually backs off. She’s 4 years old. Please help me out. 😩 she did eat a dead deer gut a few weeks ago by accident on a hike. Im wondering if she caught a bacteria?

March 22, 2018

Evolet's Owner


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3 Recommendations

The lethargy is probably related to the loss of appetite due to a reduce in food intake, there are many causes for a loss of appetite including infections but we would normally see changes in the stool and other symptoms; other possible causes may be due to parasites (you should try to worm her), foreign objects (if she ate that what else did she eat?), poisoning, liver disease, dental disorders among many other conditions (including uterine infection after being in heat). If this has been occurring for more than a few days I would recommend visiting your Veterinarian for a once over. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

March 22, 2018

Under my dog's throat water like fluid is collecting and mouth is swollen what is the reason plz reply fast doctor

March 31, 2018

Jalajakshi Y.

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COOP[ER

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Chow Chow

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4 Years

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Critical severity

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Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Coughing

Our dog Cooper started coughing on Monday, on Tuesday we took him to the local vet who diagnosed him with Kennel Cough, gave him injections and prescribed antibiotics and med for the pain and fever. He improved however on Friday he stopped eating, and only breathed through his mouth. That evening we took him to the vet hospital. Who said he had a lot of pain in his lower back and abdomin. They took bloods and xrays of the lungs and all are normal. On the painkillers the seemed better and started to cough again on Saturday. On Sunday he stopped eating again. When they touch his throat he cries in pain. NO They did another xray, lungs are clear, the only thing they can see is the little bones around his throat aren't as straight as "expected", other than that they can't tell whats wrong with him. As he is still not eating they are putting him on a drip. but since they still don't know whats wrong with him, they can't treat him. I dont know what to do! Please has anyone seen or had a similar experience?

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Jet

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Mixed

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3 Years

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Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargy
Vomiting
Loss Of Appetite
Nausea
Hard Swallowing

Hi! Hoping for a second opinion. a few nights ago, we woke up to our dog having a really hard time swallowing and constantly coughing really hard to the point he was gagging. he was licking the ground (something i know means he's looking for grass) so we let him out and he ate some grass came in and threw it up, which we expected. For the next 30 or so minutes he still had a really hard time swallowing but finally cough/gagged a few more times and went back to bed. The following night, he ate dinner about an hour before he went to bed, and woke up about 6 hours later and threw up dinner. We went to the vet and they said it's due to the length of time in between feedings causing him to have acid reflux. When he was a puppy, we ran into that because he would wake up at the same time every night and throw up some bile so we addressed that by giving him a quick snack before bed however, i really don't think this is that situation as he never threw up food, or had a hard time swallowing for an extended period of time with that. Over the last few days i've noticed anytime he growls or barks he kind of "chokes" on it almost like it's getting caught in his throat.

Pharyngitis Average Cost

From 563 quotes ranging from $800 - $2,000

Average Cost

$1,000

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