↓ Read on to watch this amazing video
Many of us know what it’s like to lose your voice due to some form of throat irritation. Whether it’s from a cold or singing at a concert, losing your normal speaking voice can be a strange feeling.
Our dogs may not talk the same way you or I do, but they can still use their voices to communicate with the world around them. So, now that our canine companions talk in their own way, does that mean dogs lose their voices too? The answer to this question is yes, dogs lose their voice, but when it comes to dogs losing their voice, there are a few important factors to be aware of!
To make sure you understand the underlying causes of your dog’s sudden loss of voice, let’s dive into the underlying causes below.
Understanding Dog Barks
Before we delve into the specifics of dog voice loss, we should first discuss the specifics of dog barking. Just like you, our dogs have a vocal cord at the back of the throat, also known as the larynx. The larynx itself is not a single structure, but is made up of multiple tissues and muscles that come together to form the vocal cords. The larynx is not only responsible for making sounds, it also keeps food and water out of your dog’s airways.
Similar to how the human larynx works, the dog’s larynx produces sound through the vibration of the structure. When a dog barks, air is drawn in and out of the mouth, and as the vocal cords open and close, the dog produces a barking sound. Each collection of muscles and tissues plays a role in how a dog’s voice is produced and protects the airways from unwelcome food and debris.
Do Dogs Lose Their Voices?5 Reasons Why Dogs Lose Their Voices
Now that you understand how dogs bark, we can drill down to a list of potential causes for dogs to lose their voice. Each of the causes we’ll discuss below can affect a dog’s throat and ability to make sounds, so let’s break them down in detail so you can understand your dog’s symptoms.
1. Overuse their vocal cords
If you’ve lost your voice after singing all night or having to speak out loud, you know what it’s like to overuse your vocal cords. Our dogs can stress their vocal cords just like you and I do, especially if they bark for prolonged periods of time for any reason. This is common in dogs with separation anxiety who bark for hours when they are left alone, dogs who bark excessively during stressful events such as storms or fireworks, or even dogs who bark excessively due to cognitive dysfunction. If your canine friend barks excessively for any reason, this could cause them to lose their voice.
2. Symptoms of respiratory disease
Have you ever had a cold so bad that your voice sounded hoarse and limp? Our dogs experience this complication when they develop respiratory disease too! Any type of respiratory disease can cause inflammation of the nasal passages and throat, which in turn can affect the function of the vocal cords. If any of the tissues that make up the larynx become inflamed, it can affect the way the structure vibrates, ultimately putting stress on the dog’s bark. Depending on the severity of the tissue inflammation, this can cause everything from a hoarse bark to a complete loss of voice.
3. Tracheal collapse
Another potential cause of a dog’s voice loss is a collapsed trachea. This condition can profoundly affect a dog’s quality of life. It affects everything from their voice to their ability to breathe.
The trachea is the tube that connects the dog’s throat to the lungs. It acts as a conduit for air to flow from the mouth and nose into the dog’s lungs, so they rely on the trachea for each breath. The trachea itself needs to maintain a tubular shape to allow the natural flow of air, which is achieved by the many rings of cartilage that make up the structure. Without cartilage rings in the trachea, 80% of the channels would not be able to maintain their shape.
When a dog has a collapsed trachea, it means the rings of cartilage in the trachea have started to weaken over time. The severity of this weakening process can vary, but eventually it can make it difficult for the trachea to maintain its tubular passage. This makes it difficult for dogs to get air into their lungs, as the windpipe starts to collapse a little bit each time they breathe in.
If a dog is battling a collapsed trachea, they will usually let out a hoarse bark or a honk-like cough. These pups may also become exhausted during physical exertion and even have difficulty breathing in severe cases. Tracheal collapse can occur in any canine companion, but is most common in small dogs or dogs with heart disease. While some dogs have mild tracheal collapse that does not require treatment, others require lifelong veterinary care.
4. Laryngeal paralysis
Tracheal collapse is due to the rings of cartilage in the trachea losing their distensibility over time, while laryngeal paralysis is the result of malfunctioning nerves within the larynx. The larynx is the structure responsible for making the dog’s sound. So, you can imagine how a breakdown of nerves within this structure could affect how dogs bark. So not only do dogs struggle with hoarse barking or complete loss of voice, but they also have a hard time keeping food and water out of their airways.
There are two main forms of Laryngeal Paralysis (LARPAR) in dogs, one is a congenital problem and the other develops in the dog’s old age. No matter which type of LARPAR your dog has, it has the ability to profoundly affect their life. Many dogs with LARPAR experience aphasia, excessive panting, coughing when eating or drinking, decreased energy, weakness of limbs, and even secondary pneumonia from aspiration of food or water. Dogs with laryngeal paralysis typically require ongoing care throughout life.
5. Throat injury or blockage
Finally, a throat injury or any form of throat blockage can cause a dog to lose his voice. This often results in a sudden change in your dog’s voice, and many puppies behave erratically, as if something in their throat is bothering them. Dogs with throat injuries or a blocked throat may cough, act as if they are trying to chop something up, claw at their face, pant excessively, and may even have difficulty breathing. If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, we recommend checking their mouth and trying to check their throat. If you can’t see anything at home, but your dog looks distressed, we recommend rushing them to your nearest veterinarian for a checkup.
When to See a Veterinarian for Loss of Voice in Dogs
So when should you contact your veterinarian when your dog has lost his voice? While we always recommend calling your veterinarian and letting them know about your pet’s care, we can provide some specific guidance on when you must visit the vet.
From the moment you notice a change in your dog’s voice, we recommend that you keep an eye on them over the next few days and weeks. If their loss of voice resolves within 24-48 hours and they don’t experience any other strange symptoms, then they may be battling a mild throat irritation.
However, if your dog’s voice loss lasts longer than 48 hours, or if they experience any other respiratory symptoms along with the change in voice, we recommend that you contact your veterinarian for guidance. This is especially true if you think they may be experiencing any breathing difficulties, and you should contact your veterinarian immediately if you think this is the case.
Anytime a dog suddenly loses their voice, it is usually the result of some form of irritation of the larynx or windpipe. We recommend that you keep a close eye on your pup from the moment you notice a change in their voice, and contact your veterinarian if they develop any other respiratory symptoms.
Ready to discover the top 10 cutest dog breeds in the world?
How about the fastest dogs, the biggest dogs, and those who are – quite frankly – just the kindest dogs on earth? Every day, AZ Animals sends out lists like this to our thousands of email subscribers. The best part? free. Join today by entering your email below.
I am broadly interested in how human activities influence the ability of wildlife to persist in the modified environments that we create.
Specifically, my research investigates how the configuration and composition of landscapes influence the movement and population dynamics of forest birds. Both natural and human-derived fragmenting of habitat can influence where birds settle, how they access the resources they need to survive and reproduce, and these factors in turn affect population demographics. Most recently, I have been studying the ability of individuals to move through and utilize forested areas which have been modified through timber harvest as they seek out resources for the breeding and postfledging phases. As well I am working in collaboration with Parks Canada scientists to examine in the influence of high density moose populations on forest bird communities in Gros Morne National Park. Many of my projects are conducted in collaboration or consultation with representatives of industry and government agencies, seeking to improve the management and sustainability of natural resource extraction.
Leave a Reply