This is a condition where the larynx fails due to the inability to abduct the arytenoid cartilages during inspiration. The illness is more pronounced when a dog is exercising, hot and panting. You’ll notice a harsh noisy sound, particularly on inspiration. It can significantly reduce an animal’s exercise tolerance, and if not controlled, the airways can become so restrictive that the obstruction can be life threatening. We usually come across it in middle aged to older dogs of medium to large breeds such as Labradors, Retrievers and Weimaraners. It can be either congenital or acquired, with the most common form of the disease being geriatric onset laryngeal paralysis polyneuropathy.
Posted: 12 August 2019
Laryngeal paralysis a progressive condition, gradually and slowly worsening over months or years. Look out for some or all of these signs;
In the majority of cases it occurs as a result of a conduction failure of the nerves that control normal laryngeal function. The exact cause is unknown but it is considered an age related issue. Occasionally the problem happens as a result of injury or trauma, resulting in nerve damage.
The more common causes of laryngeal paralysis include:
The breed and age of the dog are often highly suggestive of laryngeal paralysis, but you will need to confirm the diagnosis by using a light anaesthetic to look at the vocal folds in action. Blood tests to check for other diseases and a chest x ray to rule out neoplasia and pneumonia are often suggested. A full clinical examination, including a neurological assessment, is important early in the investigation of this disease.
Definitive diagnosis usually requires careful examination under general anaesthesia. It’s important to carry out a number of checks to confirm whether surgical treatment is appropriate. The investigation will commonly involve;
The most effective and commonly performed surgical treatment for laryngeal paralysis is called a ‘Tieback’ or Unilateral Arytenoid Lateralisation (UAL). This surgery holds one of the vocal folds in an open position making it easier to breathe without obstruction. Surgery is usually very successful, with over 90% showing significant improvement.
For cases that are not too severe or who’s’ owners don’t want to rush to surgery, there are some effective ways to minimise the symptoms. This can be achieved by;
It’s important to keep the owner informed on the prognosis, as they should all be aware that their pet may deteriorate suddenly without warning.