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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 24454
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 44 years of experience
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Our 12 year old lab has developed laryngeal paralysis. She

Customer Question

Our 12 year old lab has developed laryngeal paralysis. She is otherwise very healthy. We have discussed surgery with a veterinary surgeon (single tie back), but the side effects (choking hazard, increased potential for pneumonia) seem as potential harmful as the disease.
Her breathing has become so labored that we are again considering surgery. We'd love to know the experience of others who have opted for surgery on older labs.
I've searched for blogs where owners might share their experiences. Any advice?
Submitted: 7 months ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 7 months ago.
I understand your concerns and they're certainly apt. This is what you need to know:Nonsurgical treatment is rarely sufficient long term. It involves weight loss, exercise restriction, stress reduction, and treatment of underlying diseases. She's at the point that surgical intervention is necessary for her to have a meaningful quality of life. Here are some statistics so you can quantify those side effects and then make a more informed decision:Aspiration pneumonia is reported in 8-33% of dogs (depending upon the study) after unilateral arytenoid lateralization.Coughing/gagging is seen in 10-16% of dogs after unilateral arytenoid lateralization. Dyspnea (difficult breathing) may recur if suture breaks after surgery. Respiratory distress may require a temporary tracheostomy; postoperative megaesophagus is possible.Reduction of respiratory signs and improved exercise tolerance is seen in 90% of dogs after surgery.The prognosis is poor when a progressive polyneuropathy is present such as the geriatric onset laryngeal paralysis polyneuropathy (GOLPP) which we now believe to underly a great majority of dogs such as she. Please discuss this possibility with her surgeon. Generalized neurologic signs commonly develop within a year of diagnosis of idiopathic (unknown cause) laryngeal paralysis. The mortality rate is 14%; higher complications are noted in older animals or those with concurrent respiratory, esophageal, or neurologic disease. I understand that this isn't an an easy decision to make. You're left between surgery and euthanasia considering her progressive worsening. Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 7 months ago.
Hi Mark,

I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?

Dr. Michael Salkin

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