Vocal Cord Paralysis (Laryngeal Paralysis)
This is an acquired disease that occurs in older dogs of the large and giant breeds - particularly Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Irish Setters, St. Bernards, and Great Pyrenees.
A classic sign of laryngeal paralysis is a characteristic croupy or "roaring" noise heard as the dog inhales. Initially it appears during or after exercise. Later it occurs at rest. Another sign is progressive weakening of the bark, which ends in a croaky whisper. In time, the dog develops noisy breathing, labored breathing, reduced exercise tolerance, and fainting spells. Laryngeal edema may develop and further compromise the airway, causing respiratory collapse and even death.
Laryngeal paralysis results from damage to the nerves that control the movement of the larynx. Trauma and age may be factors. Hypothyroidism may also contribute to this problem.
In Siberian Huskies, Bouviers des Flandres, Bull Terriers, and Dalmations it occurs as a hereditary defect.
The diagnosis is made by examining the vocal cords with a laryngoscope. Paralyzed vocal cords come together in the middle instead of remaining well apart. This produces a tight air passage through the larynx.
A number of surgical procedures have been used to enlarge the airway. The technique used most often involves removing both the vocal cords and their supporting cartilage. This relieves the obstruction, but the dog is unable to bark. Surgery may also predispose the dog to aspiration pneumonia, so usually medical therapy is tried first (keep the dog calm and cool, and have sedatives and corticosteroids on hand).
There is no prevention for this condition.
Please contact your veterinarian if you have questions regarding this condition.
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