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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.

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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.

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.

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.

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.

Hoarse Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Sassy
Corgi Blue Heeler
3 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

raspy bark

I have a 3 1/2 year old corgi blue heeler and for the past week her bark has become very raspy, she is hardly eating, she is drinking her water still but very little she doesn't have the same energy level like she normally does. when she is sleeping her breathing becomes very heavy.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1057 Recommendations
Since I cannot examine Sassy and determine what is going on with her lungs, heart, or throat, it would be best to have her seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible to have an examination and determine what might be going on with her. I hope that she is okay.

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Zoey
French Bulldog
4 Months
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Wheezing bark

Noticed when she barked, it was a shallow wheezy sound. She doesn’t bark often, so the difference stood out. Her breathing seems normal for a frenchie, her eating, water, bathroom habits are the same. No fever, no vomiting.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1057 Recommendations
French Bulldogs are brachycephalic dogs, with short noses and many respiratory problems that may be associated with that. The noise that you noticed may be normal for her development, or may be a sign of something more problematic. If it continues, it would be best to have her seen by a veterinarian, as they can assess whether or not she has any issues that need to be addressed.

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Bruce
American Staffordshire Terrier
12 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Vocal change

Hi! I have a 12 and a half year old pitbull. Over the past 3 days his bark had changed. He seems to have no problems making high pitch helps but his regular, deeper bark seems raspy. He's eating and drinking fine. He doesn't seem to be having any trouble breathing. We went for a run this morning and his energy level seems normal. He is typically a pretty quiet guy in general. He doesn't bark all that much from day to day so I can't imagine it's laryngitis. Should I take him to the doctor or just continue to monitor him for a bit longer?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2479 Recommendations
Monitor Bruce for a day or two to see if there is any improvement or any new symptoms, if there is no improvement visit your Veterinarian before the weekend. Infections, excessive barking, masses among other causes may lead to a change in the sound of a bark. Try to keep him rested and hydrated. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Jasper
Jack Russell Terrier cross
14 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

his ears is warm and he is panting.

our dog has got a hoarse bark and he sounds like he is wheezing. his nose is moist. he hasent lost his appitite. hes drinking water o.k. hes now panting.his ears is warm.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2479 Recommendations
A hoarse bark may be due to excessive barking, an infection or another cause; if Jasper doesn’t bark much it may be that he has an infection. You should visit your Veterinarian for an examination to be on the safe side and to receive treatment for him. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Slade
Lab X
8 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Hoarse voice

My 8year old lab x has had a hoarse bark for 3 months now. I have taken him to the vets before and they have said he's fine. Do you think from him always trying to bark when cars arrive etc have stopped him from regaining his voice?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2479 Recommendations
Continuous strain when barking can leave a dog unable to recover, especially if they bark at every ant and fly which crosses the road outside; if your Veterinarian has otherwise given Slade a clean bill of health I wouldn’t be too concerned but just keep an eye on him to see if any other symptoms develop. Without examining Slade myself I cannot say whether he just barked too much or there is another cause. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Nyx
Siberian Husky or Alaskan Husky
1 Year
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Hi, my Siberian Husky pup Nyx is suddenly not able to greet me in the morning with her usual joyful singing! She is eating just fine and doesn't have any fever, we do take her to a public dog park daily where she runs around with our other dogs. She can still make sounds but they are hoarse and short. Thanks in advance for any synopsis or advice for my girl.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2479 Recommendations
There are a few causes for a change in barking which is normally attributable to laryngitis, but other causes like thyroid enlargement, poisoning, masses of the vocal cords, infections, excessive barking (if excited at the park) among other issues may also be at play here. You should have your Veterinarian examine Nyx to determine the underlying cause. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Hi,my yorkie puppy was coughing a lot and the vet diagnosed her with bronchitis. I give her antibiotic, cough medicine and an adaptogen. She seems better but today she has a hoarse barking. Is it normal, due to her cough? Thank you.

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Kali
Shepherd
4 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Hello,

So my inside dog has now become an outside yard dog and since, all she does is bark throughout the entire night. About 3 weeks ago I noticed her bark went hoarse. She does not have any other symptoms (no coughing, no wheezing, not lethargic). The only thing I've notice is that she will eat grass sparingly, although so do the other 3 dogs we have in the yard with her. They aren't showing any symptoms. I figured she was hoarse from the continuous barking but as I mentioned it's been 3 weeks and her condition hasn't improved; ow has it worsened. I should be worried? What can I give her to help?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2479 Recommendations
It does sound like Kali is barking too much, sometimes the simplest explanation is the right one; the repetitive barking can cause inflammation of the larynx which could lead to an infection (secondary). Without examining her I cannot recommend any antibiotics or other medications, it is a case that she needs to learn to adapt to her new environment. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Oliver
German Shepherd
2 years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Coughing

We have three dogs and two of my dogs like to pull the third dogs collar when playing. We break it up right away however, about a week ago my dog started to have a hoarse cough/wheezing sound immediately after one of the dogs had pulled on his collar. 95% of the time he’s fine but if he gets excited or after running he’ll make the noise for 1-2 minutes until he calms down. I haven’t heard him bark in the past 5 days either- although that’s not really uncommon he rarely barks. I’m wondering if he damaged his lyrnax or something and if it will get better over time or if we need to bring him in. He doesn’t seem to have any issues breathing, he just coughs and makes the noise sometimes.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2479 Recommendations
Laryngeal and tracheal trauma can cause these symptoms and will recur if the roughhousing continues like it is; I would recommend removing the collar and placing a harness on him for the time being (I don’t really like using a harness, but there are useful in these cases) so that there is nothing around his neck and you can still attach a dog tag to the harness in case he gets lost. If the coughing and other issues continue visit your Veterinarian for an examination. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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