If your dog's rumbling bark suddenly turns to a throaty croak, chances are he's suffering from hoarseness. While some cases of hoarseness clear up naturally within a day or two, veterinary intervention is crucial in others.
Barking Himself Silly
Dogs who get bored or anxious when left alone may bark for hours on end to pass the time. If your dog sounds hoarse when you get home, he may be a nuisance barker. Sooth his throat by offering him ice cubes to lick and let his voice recover by keeping him calm. Before leaving next time, tire him out with a walk wearing a backpack or running alongside a bicycle. Puzzle treats can keep him entertained when you leave, cutting down on his bark time. If he continues barking himself hoarse, you may need to call a professional trainer to help him conquer his noisy habit.
If you've just gotten your dog from a rescue shelter, and discover he can't bark above a hoarse whisper, his previous owners may 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. Medical procedures, such as dental cleaning, spaying and neutering or other surgery where your dog had tubes down his throat may leave him hoarse. The condition corrects itself within a day or two with no intervention, but call your vet if trouble breathing accompanies the hoarseness.
That Hoarse Cough
If you're dog's hoarseness comes on suddenly, it may be due to 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. Listen to your dog's breathing. If it is raspy, it may 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.
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. 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. Without veterinary intervention, your dog's airway can become progressively obstructed or collapse, resulting in suffocation.
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.