Jump to section

What is Hoarse?

Excessive barking and excitement can lead to temporary hoarseness in your dog, but it usually doesn’t last long.  However, there may be an underlying medical cause for your dog’s hoarse and raspy bark if your dog has not been barking loudly and excitedly for an extended period before the onset of hoarse sounds.  Like you, your dog uses his larynx to make sounds, such as barking.  Damage or disease to the larynx usually manifests hoarse or raspy, muted sounds.  Some of the common medical causes for hoarse barking in your dog are:

  • Laryngitis
  • Laryngeal trauma
  • Laryngeal paralysis
  • Toxicity and poisoning

Observing other signs, symptoms, and situation will help you determine the cause of your dog’s hoarse sounds, whether from excessive barking or due to an underlying medical condition.

Why Hoarse Occurs in Dogs

You have cause to be concerned if your dog has not spent the day in a barking fit but seems hoarse or raspy.  Several medical conditions affecting the larynx can give your dog’s voice a hoarse sound.  

Laryngitis

Laryngitis is inflammation of the soft tissue and cartilage of the uppermost part of the trachea, known as the larynx or “voice box.”  A bacterial, viral, or fungal infection, as well as inhaled allergens, can cause inflammation.  Other symptoms to look for include coughing or gasping for air, bluish gums, increased heart rate, and fever.

Laryngeal Trauma

Injury to the neck may cause laryngeal trauma and hoarse, labored sounds in your dog.  A choke collar or a jerking motion to the neck can cause injury.  A perforation to the neck by an animal bite or sharp foreign objects like a bone or small stick can lead to injury and hoarse sounds.  If you know or suspect your dog has experienced a traumatic injury you should seek immediate medical assistance.  

Laryngeal Paralysis

Laryngeal paralysis occurs when the nerves controlling the muscles that hold and move the tissue of the larynx weaken and the cartilage falls inward.  The cause of paretic nerves in dogs is unknown, but an injury to the neck or a developing mass (tumor) can injure or compress the nerves.  While laryngeal paralysis can occur in any breed at any age, Irish Setters and Labradors are more likely to be affected as they age. Congenital forms and early onset of laryngeal paralysis are also more likely to occur in Bouvier de Flandres, Siberian Huskies, Bull Terriers, and Dalmatians.  

Toxicity and Poisoning

Certain plants and other household items can cause toxicity in your dog that might lead him to have a hoarse voice or bark.  Plants such as the Virginia Creeper, the Flamingo plant (Anthurium), and American evergreen (Nephthytis) occur naturally in certain localities or can be kept as houseplants.  If your dog ingests these or other plants, he might experience poisoning.  Other symptoms to look for are diarrhea, vomiting, over vocalization, or obstruction of the airway.

arrow-up-icon

Top

What to do if your Dog is Hoarse

If you believe your dog’s hoarse bark is due to a medical condition, you should see your veterinarian.  Your vet will ask you questions like how long the hoarseness has been present, and if there are any accompanying symptoms such as fever, vomiting, diarrhea, or conditions like recent trauma.  Your veterinarian will perform a physical examination and look at your dog’s larynx with an endoscope.  In extreme cases, when your dog is experiencing airway obstructions, your vet will place a tracheotomy tube in your dog’s neck to stabilize his breathing until the issue is fixed.

Anti-inflammatory medication, antibiotics, and bronchodilators prescribed by your veterinarian can control symptoms for a dog with moderated paralysis of the larynx. However, most dogs with paralysis of the larynx will require surgery. During surgery, sutures are placed in the trachea to keep it open for airflow.  After surgery, you should avoid using neck collars and feeding your dog wet foods.  Food with gravies can increase the risk of your dog aspirating.  

If you suspect your dog has eaten a plant that might have caused him to have a hoarse voice you should identify the plant and the possible quantity your dog ate.  Maybe poisonous plants are bitter-tasting, and your dog will not consume much before he stops.  You can start with rinsing your dog’s mouth with cool water and encouraging him to drink before taking him to the veterinarian.  Bring a sample of the suspected plant or substance with you for your vet to review.  If your dog ingested a large quantity of the plant or substance, your veterinarian will administer intravenous fluid therapy to prevent dehydration and help process the poison. Antihistamines and pain relievers may also be given to your dog to help ease the condition.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Prevention of Hoarse

Avoid using choke collars and jerking motions on leads to prevent injury to the larynx or exacerbating a mild condition of laryngeal paralysis; especially in smaller dogs.  Excess heat and exercise can also affect conditions and should be avoided if possible.  Though dogs require socialization, try to avoid unfamiliar, aggressive, or feral dogs to prevent a potential fight and trauma to the neck.    

When you open your home and heart to a dog, you have to familiarize yourself with the possible plants and common household substances that might be toxic to your pet.  You should keep potential hazardous items out of your dog’s reach.  If you are not sure about a particular plant or substance, you can find additional information on substances from Poison Control or through your veterinarian’s office.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Cost of Hoarse

The cost of treating your dog’s hoarse bark or voice will depend on the underlying medical cause.  For example, the cost of treatment for ingesting a poisonous plant can be between $650 and $1,500 depending on the plant while the cost of treating hoarseness due to laryngeal paralysis can cost between $1,200 and $6,000 depending on the severity and necessary course of treatment.

arrow-up-icon

Top

*Wag! may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Items are sold by the retailer, not Wag!.

Hoarse Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

question-icon-cta

Ask a Vet

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Kerry Blue Terrier

dog-age-icon

4 months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

4 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Coughing

My Kerry has a bit of a gag after getting very excited or barking excessively.Also loses his voice when barking a lot. No exercise intolerance - runs and plays without coughing or any fatigue

Aug. 31, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. It may just be that he is barking to the point of straining his throat or irritating his trachea, or he may have a mild case of kennel cough. It may pass, but if the problem persists, it would be best to have your veterinarian examine him to make sure that all is okay. I hope that he is back to his normal self soon!

Aug. 31, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Pomeranian

dog-age-icon

Eight Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Hoarse

My dog and I just woke up and his voice is like gone kinda? Hes barker and made some noises as he’s usually very vocal. These noises sound raspy though. I’m not sure what to do I don’t think he ate anything toxic.

Aug. 5, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. If he barks a lot, he may have made himself hoarse, or he may have an infection or problem. If he seems to be doing well otherwise, it seems reasonable to monitor him over the next couple of days and see if things improve. If he does not improve, or become lethargic or doesn't want to eat, then it would be best to have him seen by a veterinarian to see what might be going on. I hope that all goes well for him.

Aug. 5, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Australian Shepherd

dog-age-icon

Four Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Change In Bark

Should I be concerned about the change in my dogs bark? He is 4 and his bark has recently sometimes been high pitched and raspy/hoarse. I had a boarder collie/st Bernard that had laryngeal paralysis and I am terrified of this again. 😢He barks are everything he hears or sees at all times and seems fine otherwise. Bark has been like this for a couple weeks.

July 29, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Sara O. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Hello, So sorry to hear that your dog is having issues. This could be tracheitis causing this change in bark especially if he has recently been barking more. Laryngeal paralysis is always a concern with dog with a change in bark. Your vet can listen to your dog and see if this is due to a tracheal infection or laryngeal paralysis. I hope all goes well with your pup.

July 29, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Mixed

dog-age-icon

Two Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Throwing Up Water And Food, Can Barely Bark.

Been happening for 3 days

July 25, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Your pet sounds quite ill, and it would be best to have them seen by veterinarian as soon as possible. They will be able to examine your pet and see what might be going on, and get treatment so that they feel better again. I hope that all goes well for your pet.

July 25, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Selina

dog-breed-icon

Miniature Dacshund

dog-age-icon

13 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

thumbs-up-icon

5 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Hoarse Bark

My approximately 13 year old Miniature Dachshund has started a hoarse bark. It has been intermittent for a few days, with the hoarseness increasing in her bark tonight to the point not much sound is coming out. She has no other symptoms and seems to be her normal self otherwise. Her and her brother do bark at anything they see move outside, but I do not believe there has been an increase in her barking. I’m not sure whether or not I should take her to see her veterinarian. Thank you for your time. Elizabeth

July 30, 2018

Selina's Owner

answer-icon

recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

There are a few different causes for hoarse barking or loss of bark which may include excessive barking, respiratory tract infection, trauma to the larynx, enlarged thyroid glands among other causes. You should keep an eye on Selina but visit your Veterinarian if there is no improvement to be on the safe side. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 30, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Blu

dog-breed-icon

Great Pyrenees

dog-age-icon

1 Year

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Hoarse Bark, Swollen Tonsils

A week ago my dogs bark changed. His breathing was raspy and labored. His activity level dropped. I took him to the vet and they scoped his throat. His nasal cavity and throat area was very swollen. He is now on steroids and antibiotics. He is now on day 3 of meds but I am wondering about root causes. This was very sudden onset.

dog-name-icon

Olive

dog-breed-icon

Corgi Schnauzer

dog-age-icon

1 Year

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

High Pitch Bark

Here lately my dog has had a problem with her bark. It's high pitch and hoarse. We live on a farm and we also have bigger dogs and she like to be with them instead of inside. I dont know why her bark changed and I'd like to know. Thanks in advance.

How can we help your pet?