Not Found
Locations
Brought to you by

Find information on animal health topics, written for the veterinary professional.

Disorders of the Pharynx (Throat) in Dogs

By Dana G. Allen, DVM, MSc, DACVIM, Professor and Chair, Department of Clinical Studies, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph ; Lisa E. Moore, DVM, DACVIM ; Carlton L. Gyles, DVM, PhD, Professor Emeritus, Department of Pathobiology, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph ; Sharon Patton, MS, PhD, Professor of Parasitology, Department of Biomedical and Diagnostic Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Tennessee ; Andrew S. Peregrine, BVMS, PhD, DVM, DEVPC, DACVM, Associate Professor, Department of Pathobiology, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada ; Thomas W. Swerczek, DVM, PhD, Professor, Department of Veterinary Science, University of Kentucky ; Ben H. Colmery, DVM, DAVDC ; James G. Fox, DVM, MS, DACLAM, Professor and Director, Division of Comparative Medicine, Massachusetts Institute of Technology ; H. Carolien Rutgers, DVM, MS, DACVIM, DECVIM-CA, DSAM, MRCVS, Senior Lecturer, The Royal Veterinary College, University of London ; Jörg M. Steiner, DrMedVet, PhD, DACVIM, DECVIM-CA, AGAF, Associate Professor and Director, Gastrointestinal Laboratory, Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Texas A & M University ; Sofie Muylle, DVM, PhD, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Morphology, Ghent University ; Walter Ingwersen, DVM, DVSc, DACVIM, Specialist, Companion Animals, Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) Ltd, Vetmedica ; Stanley I. Rubin, DVM, MS, DACVIM, Clinical Professor, Department of Veterinary Clinical Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ; Sharon Campbell, DVM, MS, DACVIM, Manager, Pharmacovigilance Regulatory Affairs, Veterinary Medicine Research and Development, Pfizer Inc.

Also see professional content regarding pharyngeal paralysis.

The upper throat is called the pharynx. Pharyngeal paralysis refers to paralysis of the upper throat (pharynx) that makes swallowing difficult or impossible. It may be caused by a nervous system disorder or other disease or trauma that causes collapse, obstruction, or malfunction of the pharynx. In some instances, the condition may be partial or affect only one side of the throat and the dog may be able to swallow, although complications may occur.

The throat and pharynx in a dog.

Pharyngeal paralysis results in severe problems with swallowing; food and saliva come back out through the mouth and nose. In most species, collapse of throat tissues occurs. Affected dogs are at risk of pneumonia from inhaling food and liquid (aspiration pneumonia), dehydration, and circulatory and respiratory failure. Signs of pharyngeal paralysis include fever, coughing, gagging, and choking. This condition may be fatal. In many cases, emergency surgery to provide an airway (tracheos-tomy) must be done before any more detailed analysis of the condition can be performed.

In general, treatment for pharyngeal paralysis is directed toward alleviating the signs of the disease. Treatment may include drugs to control inflammation, antibiotics to control the complications of aspiration pneumonia, draining of abscesses (if they are present), and alternative routes of nutrition. Tubes can be inserted (intubation) to help the dog breathe, eat, and drink. In many of these cases, the outlook is poor. Your veterinarian will consider the welfare of your pet when determining what course of treatment to follow.

For More Information

Also see professional content regarding pharyngeal paralysis.

Resources In This Article