Go online, speak with your vet and talk to other dog lovers about Laryngeal Paralysis
Basic Description: Laryngeal paralysis is a condition in where the nerves, muscles and cartilage that open and close the larynx, do not function properly. This can cause voice changes and/or difficulty with eating or breathing. This can happen to different types of animals. Dogs and horses are the most common mentioned in what I have read so far. The animal takes in air through the mouth or nose and passes it through the larynx, and into the trachea (windpipe). Normally, the laryngeal cartilages are pulled open during breathing.In laryngeal paralysis, these cartilages do not open and close properly, making it difficult for the animal to take in air normally.
This personal account is not meant to give information on any case where a human or animal, other than dogs, may have the same or similar condition.
I am sending out this email to raise awareness of a somewhat common condition with large dogs. Yet many, like me, have not heard of it even if they have been around dogs all their life. I never heard of this condition before yesterday. It can easily be mistaken for a heat exhaustion. This is potentially a fatal mistake.
Meet Jaegermeister, my dog. He is a yellow Labrador Retriever. No one ever guesses his correct age. He is now 12.5 years old. He has more energy than any "geriatric" canine should be able to claim. He has always been in excellent health so the Laryngeal Paralysis (LP)was not on my radar.
Recently, I have been walking w/Jaeger in the morning. My walking routine is a fast walk with light jogging for short distances. We were on our usual walk on August 13,2009. Had the ambient temperature been higher, things could have ended much differently.
We were making good time and I felt great about our progress with this new routine. Suddenly, Jaeger slowed down considerably. We had walked about a mile. His breathing became very labored. We were only about 1/4 mile from home so I tried inching him along at a very slow walk. Then, he started alternating between vomiting and defecating.Thank goodness I remembered my cell phone this time. I called my husband and asked him to pick us up.
When we got home, we took Jaeger to the side of the house and I started hosing him down. I thought it was most likely heat exhaustion. Jaeger was laying in the grass and his breathing was still loud and labored after 2 or 3 minutes of constant water application. I moved closer to his head to try and bring down his temperature (his ears were extremely hot). His eyes went glassy and he was not responding to my voice at all. He just laid there and struggled to breathe.
I moved closer and my heart started racing. I asked my husband for his flashlight and shined it into Jaeger's mouth. My fears were confirmed. His tongue had gone purplish/blue. I knew he was suffocating. It was likely 10-15 minutes since this started. My dog was slowly dying in front of me and I could not do anything about it.
We put him in the SUV and I sat in the back with him, encouraging him to breathe. We called our vet and the recording gave the number for the emergency clinic (if your vet doesn't have an emergency number on their after hours recording, ask them to add it). We put the A/C on as high as it would go and raced to the clinic. I was now at least a full 30 minutes since the beginning of Jaeger's trauma.
Jaeger had to be carried inside. He had no ability to move anymore.Thankfully, the vet and vet tech automatically had a suspicion about what was wrong. They put Jaeger on oxygen and gave him a shot of Acepromazine (a sedative). They updated me after about 10 minutes and said he had started to improve but they wanted to keep him on oxygen until they closed for the night (another 1.5 hours). They said his color was improving.
They educated me on the condition of Laryngeal Paralysis. I had never heard of it. I had questioned my dog's hoarse bark for years...no vets raised any alarms about it. More recently, I had questioned his persistent cough and attempts to hack something up (an online story gave a great description of the sound..."HRRRAAACH"). No one ever mentioned this LP condition.
Had I known about the condition and what can set it off, I would have never taken Jaeger outside for "jogging". My ignorance almost cost me my dog. To some, "it's just a dog". To me, he is as close to a son as I will ever have.
Now that I know about the condition, it is my duty to educate as many as possible. Hopefully, future tragedies may be avoided through shared knowledge.
*********************My personal note to the caregivers in the world:
Thank you to those who, on a daily basis, give their time and effort to save the lives of people and their loved ones. Nurses, Doctors,EMTs, Firefighters, Police Officers...too many to mention them all....and yes, also including Veterinarians and Vet Techs. Our pets are our loved ones too.
And, in my opinion, a vet's job can in certain ways be more difficult. A pet cannot tell you exactly where it hurts, what they ate or what bit them. They depend on us to know something is wrong and take the necessary steps for their welfare.
It's the least we can do for them. They've been helping us for ages and not asked anything in return.
- Shannon Gately