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Laryngeal Paresis and Paralysis

By: Dr. David Diamond

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Laryngeal disease is just one of many causes of difficult breathing. Other causes of respiratory distress include:

  • Upper respiratory neoplasia. Tumors of the nasal cavity, pharynx, larynx, or trachea can cause respiratory difficulty as the air passage is partially obstructed by the mass.

  • Laryngeal collapse. A very severe, end-stage condition of the larynx caused by chronic increased inspiratory effort and subsequent weakening of the laryngeal cartilages that would normally hold the walls of the larynx out of the airway.

  • Cardiac disease. Ineffective pumping of oxygenated blood to the body because of a faulty heart can cause dyspnea and weakness.

  • Pulmonary disease. Ineffective oxygenation of the blood caused by lung disease can cause shortness of breath and dyspnea.

  • Tracheal collapse. Usually found in small dog breeds, tracheal collapse is caused by weakness of the cartilage rings that normally hold the trachea open during breathing leading to a severe "honking" cough and dyspnea.

  • Brachycephalic syndrome. A group of conditions that cause resistance to airflow through the upper respiratory tract in short-nosed dog breeds.

  • Hypothyroidism. An endocrine disorder in which insufficient thyroid hormone is secreted by the thyroid gland. It can be a cause of neuromuscular disorders and is sometimes found concurrently in dogs with laryngeal paralysis.

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