If the sight of guests has left Scruffy speechless, you may be wondering what's amiss. No, your dog has not lost his watchdog capabilities; rather, he has likely lost his voice. Fortunately, in many cases your opinionated dog will gain it back in little or no time.
Hoarse from Barking
In some cases, your canine companion may simply be hoarse from using his vocal cords too much. For instance, if your dog has been boarded lately, he may have spent a good chunk of his time there barking, with the end result of developing a raspy voice. Incessant barking can inflame the vocal cords, causing a bout of laryngitis. Fortunately, with some "voice rest" your dog will soon be back to voicing his opinion in little time.
Hoarse from Surgery
If your dog has recently undergone surgery, his lack of voice may have developed from the placement of the breathing tube during surgery. The endotracheal tube used for the delivery of the anesthetic gas can at times cause irritation, triggering a bout of laryngitis. Voice changes and a slight dry or raspy cough are common symptoms. As miserable as poor Rover may seem, luckily, this form of hoarseness should last no more than a few days.
Hoarse from Laryngeal Paralysis
This condition is most common among older members of larger breeds such as Labrador and golden retrievers, Saint Bernards and Siberian huskies. If your dog opens his mouth to bark and little or no voice comes out, the voice box may have lost its function. Affected dogs may develop a voice change and the bark may sound "hoarse" and raspy. Your dog may try to bark, but only emit a sound that ends in a hoarse, croaky whisper. In more severe cases, affected dogs may also develop episodes of respiratory distress.
Hoarse from Tumor
If your dog is hoarse, you really don't want to be barking up the wrong tree assuming it is nothing. Because there is a slight chance that a dog's inability to bark may be caused by a tumor, it is important to seek veterinary attention. A tumor or growth growing near the larynx or trachea may interfere with the dog's ability to bark. If the vet suspects a growth, he may need to take X-rays and possibly have an endoscopy done.
Adrienne Farricelli has been writing for magazines, books and online publications since 2005. She specializes in canine topics, previously working for the American Animal Hospital Association and receiving certification from the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. Her articles have appeared in "USA Today," "The APDT Chronicle of the Dog" and "Every Dog Magazine." She also contributed a chapter in the book " Puppy Socialization - An Insider's Guide to Dog Behavioral Fitness" by Caryl Wolff.