How would I know if my dog has laryngeal paralysis?
Laryngeal disease may cause the following clinical signs: exercise intolerance, noisy breathing, coughing and gagging, change or loss of voice.
Many of the clinical signs of laryngeal disease that may be apparent (e.g. a soft cough, exercise intolerance), are often attributed to ‘old age’ or ‘heart disease’, particularly as they will develop insidiously. However, there are two audible features that are very characteristic of laryngeal disease – a soft ‘ineffectual’ cough, and inspiratory stridor.
Many dogs with laryngeal disease are asymptomatic at rest. However, rapid decompensation of the respiratory status can occur if the dog becomes excited, is exercised more intensively than usual, or is unable to find a cool area on a hot day. When this happens, the dog can suddenly develop respiratory distress, with rapid escalation into a life-threatening crisis if appropriate action is not taken immediately.
It is important to realise that the disease affecting the larynx usually develops slowly. As a consequence, dogs with laryngeal disease may display relatively minor clinical signs, the significance of which may be overlooked and attributed to ‘old age’. However, it is also possible for animals to present as an acute emergency with severe cyanosis and respiratory distress induced by a period of excitement, exercise or hot weather. Successful management of these conditions requires immediate and effective resuscitation, followed by prompt alleviation of the obstructive process.