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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 28931
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience
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My dog has a harsh, stridor-like cough every time she runs

Customer Question

My dog has a harsh, stridor-like cough every time she runs or plays. The cough always ends in a gag or dry-heave. She then acts normally, wags her tail and seems fine at rest. She is active and playful other times but now has this problem every time she exerts herself. She was a rescue dog and the only thing I know about her is that she was treated for heart worm before we got her. She has always had a little bit of this loud breathing...but never so harsh...and never with the hacking/vomiting at the end. Her immunizations are up to date and she takes no medications
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

Michael, it would be best to have her chest films repeated looking for an exercise-induced cough/gag indicative of sterile bronchitis (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease/COPD) particularly because she has a history of heartworm disease and if nothing untoward is found in such films, have her lightly sedated in order to watch the arytenoid cartilages of her larynx move while she breaths. This is how we diagnose laryngeal paralysis which also is consistent with her symptoms. Unilateral paralysis is most common; arytenoid and vocal fold motion will be absent on one side or paradoxical (inward collapse on inhalation, blown open on exhalation).

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks. Is there any treatment for this? In humans, of course, steroids and bronchodilators are an option. Is it the same for dogs? Would I need to take her to the nearby vet specialty hospital (instead of my regular vet) and ask for an ENT evaluation (for the laryngoscopy)? If there is vocal cord paralysis, is there any therapy? What is the likely cause?
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

Yes, a sterile bronchitis is usually addressed with a combination of a narcotic cough suppressant, glucocorticosteroid, and bronchodilator - systemic and/or inhalant. Laryngeal paralysis, however, is a surgical problem. A "tie back" procedure is performed. Laryngeal paralysis arises secondary to either cricoarytenoideus dorsalis muscle or recurrent laryngeal nerve dysfunction due to trauma, polyneuropathy or polymyopathy. A generalist vet should be able to confidently diagnose this paralysis by directly visualizing the larynx through Kallie's open mouth.

Please continue our conversation if you wish.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you! I will pursue this with my vet then
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

You're welcome. I can't set a follow-up in this venue so please return to our conversation - even after rating - with an update at your convenience.