May 11, 2018

Why is my dog’s breathing suddenly so loud? Should I worry about it?

There is a very scary respiratory condition we see in older dogs. This can start suddenly and be life-threatening. It is most commonly seen in Labrador retrievers but can be seen in other breeds as well. It usually affects dogs in their teens.

The condition is called Laryngeal Paralysis, or Lar Par for short. Many Labrador breeders and owners are familiar with it.

This is characterized by loud inspirations, usually with the dog’s mouth open. It can start in episodes but frequently progresses to the point it is constant and can be so loud you can’t carry on a conversation in the room with the dog present.

The diagnosis is confirmed by anesthetizing the dog with an agent that still allows the cartilages in the airway to move open and closed, and looking for the movement with the dog’s mouth open. I usually have this done by the surgeon who is planning to surgically correct the condition.

In cases of severe Lar Par, particularly when the weather is very hot and humid, it can be life-threatening.

There is a surgical correction for this – called laryngeal tie-back. I think it is best performed by a Board-certified surgeon who works at a 24-hour facility. The reason being, this is a big deal surgery. It is also important that for the first 24-48 hours after surgery, the dog needs to be closely monitored for swelling or obstructive disease in the airway. If this occurs, the dog will need additional care including oxygen therapy to survive.

If your dog has symptoms of loud breathing that are NOT reverse sneezing, please capture it by video on your phone or camera and share it with your veterinarian so they can help with an accurate diagnosis and treatment.

And if you think your dog may have it, be extremely careful to protect your dog from extremes of heat and humidity. Don’t leave your dog in the car, even for a minute, without air conditioning. Don’t let the dog follow you back and forth in the yard while you are cutting the grass. And please don’t wait till your dog is turning blue when they are breathing. Keep stress levels low and ask your veterinarian for anti-anxiety medications and other meds to help them breathe more comfortably during the summer and fall months.

More information can be found at VetSpecialists’ article on Laryngeal Paralysis

Contact us at 920-269-4072 or at [email protected] if you need assistance with your dog or cat’s health care.