Can My Puppy Lose Her Voice?

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Too much barking is the most common cause of puppy laryngitis.
Too much barking is the most common cause of puppy laryngitis. (Image: George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Dogs of all ages bark but sometimes canines can lose their voice just like humans do. While most cases of hoarseness, particularly in puppies, are caused by excessive barking, they can sometimes be signals of other health problems. If a puppy loses her voice, the root cause of the problem needs to be determined and corrected.

Puppy Laryngitis

Both dogs and humans can suffer from laryngitis – the medical term for a “lost voice.” In both species, the condition stems from an inflammation and swelling of the vocal cords, also known as the larynx. As a result of the inflammation, the normal movement of air over the larynx that produces the voice changes thus causing hoarseness, low volume, or difficulty in communicating. While the inflammation is the direct cause of the laryngitis, another factor must cause the actual irritation to the vocal cords. That factor could be illness, injuries or overuse.

Health Causes

Laryngitis can have a number of medical causes. Kennel cough, which is a serious communicable respiratory disorder in dogs, causes an infection that can sometimes lead to laryngitis. The condition is most commonly found in dogs who spend a lot of time in close quarters with other dogs, such as in a kennel or in a puppy mill. Puppies can also suffer from tonsillitis, which can lead to laryngitis. If your dog has lost her voice but also drools more than usual and does not want to eat, this illness may be the cause of the problems.

Vocal Cord Injuries

Laryngitis can be caused by injuries to the vocal cords, particularly in senior dogs. If the nerves around the larynx are damaged because of tight collars or choke chains, the dog can suffer damage to its vocal cords resulting in barking difficulties. Dogs who are attacked or who fight with other dogs can also suffer this type of damage. In rare cases, dogs have injured their larynx with foreign objects. If your dog sounds normal while breathing as she rests but seems to have trouble breathing when she is exerted, she may be suffering from a larynx injury and needs veterinarian attention.

Excessive Barking

In puppies, the most common cause of laryngitis is over-barking. Too much barking strains the puppy’s vocal cords causing them to become irritated, swollen, and inflamed. Until the inflammation calms down, your puppy will have difficult barking and may sound hoarse. Puppies bark too much when they are stressed or bored, so if your puppy sounds hoarse when you return home from work the culprit is probably excessive barking. Providing more exercise, toys and training can help your puppy reduce his barking so laryngitis becomes less of a problem.

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