Can Dogs Get Hoarse?

No matter what kind of dog you have, they are going to bark. Dogs will do this to gain the attention of their owners and to let others know about something they see or hear. Then there are times when it seems a dog's non-stop barking is for no good reason whatsoever. However, while that time when the dog finally barks themselves hoarse might seem like a blessing, it could well be cause for concern. 

In humans, hoarseness is described as the voice sounding raspy, breathy, or strained. When this happens, your voice is often much quieter than normal and your throat might feel a bit scratchy.

A hoarse voice can cause several social problems for humans, as it can make verbal communication difficult. Depending on your job (working in a call center for example), losing your voice can create many other problems. It can also be an indication of some type of illness or damage to the larynx.

While your pup might not have a job to worry about, being hoarse can also be an indication of a medical condition that should be checked by the vet.

Can Dogs Get Hoarse?

YES!

Dogs can get hoarse. It can be a sign that they have barked so long their larynx has become irritated. At the same time, it can be an indication that they are suffering from periodontal disease, gingivitis, pharyngitis, or laryngitis. Your veterinarian can examine your dog and check for these conditions.

Is My Dog Hoarse?

The first and most obvious way to tell if your four-legged friend is suffering from being hoarse is, of course, the sound of their bark. Much like humans, their voice may become raspy and much quieter than normal.

Symptoms

  • Raspy voice

  • Breathy voice, almost like they can't get enough air for a full volume bark

  • Strained voice like he has to try way too hard to bark

  • Coughing

  • Constantly trying to clear throat

Causes

  • Excessive barking

  • Foreign body in throat

  • Masses in throat

  • Laryngitis

  • Pharyngitis

  • Gingivitis, periodontal disease

  • Poisoning

  • Trauma

  • Debarking surgery

Diagnosis

  • Listening to their voice

  • Physical examination of their throat

  • Having a vet evaluate your dog for laryngeal paralysis

How Do I Treat My Dog's Hoarseness?

Not surprisingly, in most cases, you can treat your dog's hoarseness in much the same way as you would take care of yourself.

If your dog has simply barked until hoarse, you can soothe the throat with a warm non-caffeinated tea infused with a little bit of honey. On the other hand, if you believe your dog's hoarse bark is due to a medical condition, you need to take them to see the vet as soon as possible. The recommended treatment will be based on what the vet finds. Treatments may include:

  • Anti-inflammatories

  • Antibiotics

  • Bronchodilators

  • Surgery

  • Antihistamines
    Until your dog's voice returns to normal, you should use a harness instead of a collar for walks to relieve strain on the neck and throat. Also:


  • You may want to feed your pooch soft moist foods instead of dry foods that might irritate the throat

  • Help your dog to keep barking to a minimum while the larynx recovers

  • In the event of surgery, keep the incision site clean and protected

How is Hoarseness Similar in Dogs and Humans?

Since both humans and dogs produce sound in a very similar fashion, it should come as no surprise that hoarseness is also very similar.

  • Both have very similar symptoms (raspy or breathy voice)

  • Both have very similar causes (dogs can bark themselves hoarse, humans can yell themselves hoarse)

  • Both require similar treatments (soothing teas, medications, antibiotics, anti-inflammatories)

How is Hoarseness Different in Dogs and Humans?

While there are several similarities, there are also a few differences between hoarseness in dogs and in humans.

  • Humans typically do not spend hours yelling

  • Humans can tell you where it hurts or what might have caused the problem

  • Examining a human's throat for signs of obstruction, masses, toxicity, is easier than in dogs

  • Humans can still communicate even when they can't talk

Case Study

You have just brought home a cute dog from the local shelter and one of the first things you notice is that he can barely bark above a whisper. The first thing you do is get him a fresh bowl of water, thinking maybe his throat is dry. The people at the shelter told you that this dog just seems to be quiet and doesn't bark much. 

However, even after plenty of water, he still has a very hoarse bark. After a trip to the clinic, the vet tells you that his vocal cords have been cut in what is referred to as a "debarking procedure".  While the surgery cannot be reversed, it is possible in time that sufficient scar tissue may build up and allow your dog to bark above a whisper.

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