Breathing Problems in a Dog: Pebbles’ Laryngeal Paralysis

While people might still refer to this condition as laryngeal paralysis, it has been determined that the problem is bigger than that.

It would appear that laryngeal paralysis is a part of a bigger neurological problem. It has been renamed to Geriatric Onset Laryngeal Paralysis Polyneuropathy (GOLPP). GOLPP is a progressive degeneration of nerves that first manifests as laryngeal paralysis—the inability of the larynx to function properly.

The larynx is the box-like structure between the back of the mouth and throat that regulates the passage of air into and out of the trachea and allows vocalization. Simply put, it controls the airflow and keeps the food out of the windpipe.

Noisy breathing or changes in vocalization are the first symptoms of laryngeal paralysis or GOLPP that owners typically notice.

Breathing Problems in a Dog: Pebbles' Laryngeal Paralysis

Pebbles’ story

It was about a year prior when Pebbles started having breathing issues. When she was panting after exercise, her breathing became noisy. Her dad figured that maybe it was something that comes with age.

As time went on, however, the problem worsened. Not only Pebble’s breathing became progressively louder, but she also started to struggle to catch her breath after activity.

At the veterinarian

Pebbles’ veterinarian diagnosed her right away—she was suffering from laryngeal paralysis.

The normal function of the larynx is to open access to the windpipe when breathing and close it while swallowing to prevent food from going down the wrong way. With laryngeal paralysis, the larynx fails to do this job properly. In Pebbles’ case, it remained half-closed at all times.

That’s why Pebbles didn’t have problems when she was resting. But when she was exercising, and the larynx was supposed to open wide to allow for increased air-flow, she was not getting enough air.

Eventually, as the condition would get worse, Pebbles would have a hard time breathing even at rest.

The treatment

There is no cure that would restore the larynx’s proper function. To help the dog to breathe, laryngeal paralysis is treated by surgically securing the larynx in a wide-open position.

Pebbles’ dad was concerned about putting her through such a major surgery and wanted to try medical treatment. The medication they tried, though, didn’t help for very long. In the meantime, Pebbles was having real trouble breathing and surgery became the only way to try and make her better.

The surgery

Pebbles had her surgery at a specialty hospital. She made it through the surgery without any complications and immediately felt better—she could now breathe easily. Even though her dad was concerned about surgery at Pebbles’ age, it gave her a new lease on life.

Original story:
Pebbles a 12-year-old Black Lab who had a disease called Laryngeal Paralysis

Related articles:
Canine Laryngeal Paralysis – GOLPP: Physical Therapy to Help Dogs with Laryngeal Paralysis

Further reading:
Geriatric Onset Laryngeal Paralysis Polyneuropathy (GOLPP)

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