Canine Laryngeal Collapse in Dogs
Laryngeal collapse develops when there is loss of the rigidity and support provided by the laryngeal cartilage (voicebox), causing the larynx to fold and collapse. When this occurs there is an obstruction that prevents normal movement of air into the trachea.
Laryngeal collapse usually occurs secondary to other long standing upper airway disorders, such as those seen in short-faced dogs like pugs, Boston terriers and English bulldogs. The chronic effect of difficulty “pushing and pulling” air through their deformed upper airways weakens, fatigues, and eventually deforms the cartilage. In rare instances the cartilage may fracture and collapse following trauma to the neck.
Most dogs with advanced upper airway disease are over two years of age, but occasionally this condition may be found in younger dogs. Both males and females are affected.
Laryngeal collapse can result in severe respiratory distress, potentially leading to death.
What to Watch For
Signs of laryngeal collapse in dogs may include:
Diagnosis of Laryngeal Collapse in Dogs
Treatment of Laryngeal Collapse in Dogs
Home Care and Prevention
Since the surgical correction of various defects is performed through the mouth, there is no incision to monitor or sutures to be removed. Feed soft food and water for a week or so after the procedure. Avoid excitement or situations in which your dog will pant.
Following a permanent tracheostomy, the surgical site will need to be kept clean and free of debris. Stitches at a permanent tracheostomy site should be removed within 10 to 14 days after surgery.
The opening will need to be checked daily to ensure that it is not closing over and occluding the new airway. Your pet must NEVER swim since water would instantly be drawn into the lungs.
Laryngeal collapse, when it occurs secondary to chronic upper airway obstruction, should be a preventable disease. If the primary airway disorders are addressed in a timely fashion, that is before the dog is two years of age, it is normally possible to prevent the secondary changes in the laryngeal cartilages.
Sometimes, airway problems get overlooked in the brachycephalic breeds of dog because the owner thinks this is just how a pug or bulldog should sound. Have your pet checked regularly by your veterinarian particularly if airway noise becomes increased with moderate exercise or excitement or if your pet seems unable to exercise a reasonable amount. Excessive snoring and snorting is not normal and should be evaluated.
Once the later stages of laryngeal collapse have developed, correction of the primary problems will have very little benefit.
Although there is a surgical option for the treatment of severe laryngeal collapse, the long-term management of the tracheal opening and the increased risk for aspiration pneumonia should not be forgotten. Your pet will be far happier preventing laryngeal collapse by fixing the underlying causes than dealing with a permanent tracheostomy after the fact.