Laryngeal Paralysis In The Labrador Retriever Dog Breed

The Labrador retriever is one of the best-known and best loved dog breeds in the UK, and for good reason. These large, hugely personable and very friendly dogs tend to have incredibly nice temperaments and really love being with people, being highly affectionate with their families and more than happy to meet and make friends with strangers.

They are notable for being excellent with children and highly sociable with other dogs, and when correctly introduced and managed, can live perfectly safely with other smaller pets like cats too.

Labrador retrievers have a great combination of bags of energy, high intelligence and a superior receptivity to training, which means that the sky is virtually the limit in terms of what dogs of the breed can do; they are one of the most popular dog breeds in the UK among families that value them as pets, but they are also excellent at canine sports and excel in a wide number of different working roles too.

Labradors are the dog breed of choice for many, and they are enduringly popular in the UK and all across the world. However, the Labrador retriever is also at risk of inheriting any of a number of hereditary health conditions that have been identified within the breed as a whole, which is something that all prospective Labrador retriever buyers should be aware of.

One such condition is called laryngeal paralysis, and while this isn’t one of the most prevalent health conditions within the breed across the board, it is certainly something that Labrador owners should be aware of.

In this article we will look at laryngeal paralysis in the Labrador retriever dog breed in more detail, covering the condition’s symptoms, causes, and treatments. Read on to learn more about Labrador retriever laryngeal paralysis.

What is laryngeal paralysis?

Laryngeal paralysis affects the dog’s larynx or voice box, and is a condition of the nerves that leads to the muscles and cartilage of the larynx that enable it to open and close normally failing to function as they should.

This leads to difficulties for the dog in a wide range of things, including eating, breathing, opening and closing the mouth, and barking and making other vocalisations.

In dogs with a healthy larynx, the air that they breathe through the mouth or nose passes through the larynx to the windpipe, and the cartilage of the larynx itself opens in order to permit this to happen. When a dog has laryngeal paralysis, the cartilage doesn’t open or part as it should, which makes it hard for the dog to draw breath and that can be life-threatening.


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What type of Labradors are at risk of laryngeal paralysis?

Laryngeal paralysis can occur in any dog with a predisposition to it, which is something that is virtually impossible to find out unless the dog in question had other close relatives with the condition, which can help to indicate a hereditary predisposition in younger dogs with the condition.

Across dogs as a whole, laryngeal paralysis tends to develop in older dogs, and in most dogs with the condition, their larynx is normally formed and fully functional at birth and throughout their early lives. However, the muscles and nerves that control the larynx and its surrounding cartilage begin to weaken and fail as the dog ages, leading to an inability of the larynx to function properly.

Laryngeal paralysis can also develop in young Labrador puppies aged between around two and six months old, and in this case, the condition is hereditary. However, there is no testing protocol in place to identify a predisposition to laryngeal paralysis in Labradors.

What are the symptoms of laryngeal paralysis in Labrador retrievers?

In Labs that have hereditary laryngeal paralysis, symptoms will usually become apparent from a young age, generally developing well before the dog reaches their first birthday and often a lot earlier.

The first symptom you are likely to notice at home is that your dog’s bark and other vocal sounds change somewhat, often producing a distinctly hoarse-sounding bark as the first indication that something is amiss. The dog’s breath sounds will also tend to be noisy, particularly on inhalation, and they may have a tendency to choke, gag, or have problems swallowing when eating.

The symptoms are often more acute when the dog is exercising, or when the weather is hot and the dog is panting a lot.

Can laryngeal paralysis be treated or cured?

In order to correct laryngeal paralysis in the Labrador retriever and restore them to good health, surgical correction is usually required. This takes the form of an operation called arytenoid lateralisation, in which sutures are used to hold the cartilage of the arytenoid area in the throat open so that the dog can take normal breaths.

Generally, this type of surgery achieves great results after recovery, and will permit affected dogs to enjoy a good quality of life with some vigilance from their owners in order to ensure that they are getting on ok and not suffering from any problems.

However, because laryngeal paralysis is hereditary in Labrador retrievers, affected dogs should not be bred from as they may pass the condition onto their own young.


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