If your dog's rumbling bark suddenly turns to a throaty croak, chances are he's suffering from hoarseness — or dog laryngitis, which is inflammation of the larynx. While some cases of hoarseness clear up naturally within a day or two, veterinary intervention is crucial in others. Therefore, treatments for a hoarse dog range from ice water and rest to veterinary intervention and medication.
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Dog laryngitis from excessive barking
Dogs who get bored or anxious when left alone sometimes bark for hours to pass the time. If your dog sounds hoarse when you get home, he might be a nuisance barker. One home remedy for dog laryngitis is to sooth his throat by offering him ice cubes to lick and let his voice, or larynx, recover by keeping him calm. Before leaving home the next time, tire him out with a long walk — allowing him to sniff frequently stimulates the brain and this can be equally tiring as a long walk.
Or, if he's really high energy and you have the right equipment, run him alongside a bicycle. Note, however, that without the correct bike leash, this can be very dangerous. Puzzle treats can keep him entertained when you leave, cutting down on his bark time. If he continues barking himself hoarse, you might need to call a professional trainer to help him conquer his noisy habit, especially if the neighbors complain.
Dog hoarseness from medical procedures
It is possible to have a dog debarked, though not recommended. If you've just gotten your dog from a rescue shelter, and discover he can't bark above a hoarse whisper, his previous owners might have had him debarked. The procedure cuts tissues in the vocal cords but doesn't remove them, leaving the dog with a permanent hoarse wheeze instead of a rumbling bark.
Also, medical procedures, such as dental cleaning, spaying and neutering, or other surgery where your dog had tubes down his throat might leave him hoarse temporarily. The condition corrects itself within a day or two with no intervention, but call your vet if trouble breathing accompanies the hoarseness — or if your dog can't bark and coughs excessively days after surgery.
Dog can't bark and coughs
If your dog's hoarseness comes on suddenly, it might be because of a respiratory infection such as kennel cough. Respiratory infection usually is accompanied by coughing or labored breathing. If your dog isn't coughing, look in your dog's throat with a flashlight, noticing any areas of irritation or coating on the tissues lining the throat.
Listen to your dog's breathing. If it is raspy, it that can indicate an infection or paralysis of the larynx. Call your veterinarian and explain the symptoms you've observed. Prompt veterinary treatment is crucial as objects or infections of the throat sometimes cause food to wind up in the lungs, setting your dog up for pneumonia.
Laryngeal paralysis in dogs
Older large breed dogs are prone to laryngeal paralysis, a disease resulting from nerve damage around the larynx. The problem occurs as a hereditary defect in some breeds, such as Dalmatians, Siberian huskies, and bull terriers. Hypothyroidism, which causes shrinking or tumors of the thyroid gland, can contribute to the condition as well as trauma from choke chain injuries. If this is the case, your dog's hoarse bark is characteristically accompanied by a roaring or whistling sound when he inhales.
Your vet can prescribe anti-inflammatory medications and your dog will need to stay confined and rest during the healing process. Avoid choke chains now and in the future. Without veterinary intervention, your dog's damage, inflamed, or irritated airway can become progressively obstructed or collapse, resulting in suffocation.