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

* This is the Veterinary Version. *

Pharyngitis in Dogs

By Ned F. Kuehn, DVM, MS, DACVIM, Section Chief, Internal Medicine, Michigan Veterinary Specialists ; Neil W. Dyer, DVM, MS, DACVP, Director and Pathologist, Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, North Dakota State University ; Joe Hauptman, DVM, MS, DACVS, Professor of Surgery, Veterinary Teaching Hospital, Michigan State University ; Steven L. Marks, BVSc, MS, MRCVS, DACVIM, Clinical Professor of Emergency and Internal Medicine; Associate Dean and Director of Veterinary Medical Services, North Carolina State College of Veterinary Medicine ; Stuart M. Taylor, PhD, BVMS, MRCVS, DECVP

Also see professional content regarding pharyngitis.

Pharyngitis is inflammation of the walls of the throat (pharynx). It accompanies most upper airway viral and bacterial respiratory infections, such as distemper in dogs. Other causes include damage of the pharynx by a foreign object or cancer of the mouth or tonsils. In dogs, foreign objects stuck in the mouth and throat are quite common; typical objects include pins, needles, porcupine quills, and pieces of stick or bone fragments.

In general, animals with pharyngitis have a normal desire to eat and drink but may have difficulty swallowing. As a result of inflammation and abscesses, an emergency situation can develop if the airway becomes obstructed. The diagnosis is based on a complete physical examination, which may include x-rays and endoscopic examination of the throat along with cultures of fluids and sites that are draining.

The primary treatment is to identify and control or eliminate the factors leading to the disease. If pharyngitis has been caused by a foreign object, surgery to remove the object and any dead tissue is done under general anesthesia.

* This is the Veterinary Version. *