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Veterinary surgery for Laryngeal Paralysis, treatment for dogs with breathing and swallowing problems.

Laryngeal paralysis is relatively common in older Labrador and Golden Retrievers but may affect any breed. The exact cause of this condition remains unknown, but veterinarians have pinpointed that it results from a larynx nerve dysfunction. Normally, this nerve stimulates the larynx to open when we breathe and close when we swallow food and water. Dogs with laryngeal paralysis have a dysfunction of this nerve.

Recent studies show that laryngeal paralysis may be part of a polyneuropathy, a condition where multiple nerves are affected in the body. Symptoms include a voice change and difficulty breathing, particularly with heat and exercise. Dogs may also have problems with heat exhaustion because they are working so hard to breathe. Left untreated, both scenarios can be life threatening.

Veterinary Laryngeal Paralysis Procedure

Surgery benefits a dog experiencing laryngeal paralysis. An arytenoid lateralization or “tie-back” procedure places sutures from the arytenoids cartilage (part of the larynx) to the thyroid cartilage providing a larger opening to breathe through.

The goal is to prevent a respiratory crisis. The resulting larger larynx opening creates a risk food and/or water aspiration, resulting in pneumonia. On average this complication occurs in 1 out of every 5 dogs and while typically treatable, if severe, can be life-threatening.

Your dog’s recovery

Most dogs receiving the tie-back procedure do well. The improved breathing results in increased energy and an improved quality of life. Prior to surgery, dogs with laryngeal paralysis should be kept in a cool, calm environment to avoid a respiratory or overheating crisis.


Please see your family veterinarian for a referral for a consultation with a WestVet surgeon. You may contact us with any questions regarding veterinary surgery at 208.375.1600.

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