Hoarseness in Dogs When Barking

Hoarseness may indicate a problem with the vocal cords.
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Bear’s favorite pastime is barking at the mailman and other passersby. You may think your little beast’s roar is hoarse due to excessive use, but in reality, your dog’s raspy or hoarse bark may have a medical cause. For peace of mind, have your vet rule out major diseases.

Laryngeal Paralysis

Damage to the nerves of the larynx, or "voice box," can result in laryngeal paralysis. While laryngeal paralysis can affect dogs of all ages, it is more common in older pets. Large breeds are also more susceptible, including Saint Bernards, Labrador retrievers, Great Pyrenees and golden retrievers. Over time, your pooch may experience a slight voice change, characterized by a deeper, raspy-sounding bark. Surgery to enlarge the airway is generally recommended for dogs suffering from laryngeal paralysis.

Laryngeal Trauma

Laryngeal injuries can make breathing difficult for your furry comrade. Dogs who have suffered bite wounds to the larynx or have been penetrated with sharp foreign objects in the neck area may have damage to the nerves of the pharynx or larynx. Tight slip collars, choke chains and ropes used as substitutes for collars can also result in devastating injury to the larynx. Choke collars can also cause fractures of the hyoid bone found at the base of the tongue. With this type of injury, anti-inflammatory medications and a tracheostomy may be necessary to create a new airway, allowing Bear to breathe easy.


Laryngitis occurs when the larynx becomes inflamed. This inflammation is often associated with upper respiratory tract infections, but can also be caused by the inhalation of foreign materials, dust, smoke or certain gases. Rarely, laryngitis is caused by poor placement of a breathing tube during surgery or excessive barking. Bear may first develop a dry, harsh cough that may become painful. Laryngitis may also be accompanied by noisy breathing, vocal changes and swallowing difficulty. The lungs may fill quickly with fluid, increasing the risk of suffocation. Depending on the cause of the inflammation, medication and/or surgery are the first steps to a healthy recovery.

Laryngeal Collapse

When the cartridge that supports the voice box fails, a laryngeal collapse is inevitable. As the larynx folds and collapses onto itself, the obstruction prevents normal airflow into the trachea. Laryngeal collapse generally appears in severe cases, often after long-standing upper airway disorders. Dogs with a collapsed larynx will have difficulty breathing and may suffer from cardiac arrest. There is hope for dogs with this condition, starting with surgery to correct the upper airway abnormality. In chronic cases of laryngeal collapse, a permanent tracheostomy may be Bear’s best option.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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