A natural treatment for laryngeal paralysis in dogs is something many dog owners hope for, but there are unfortunately no miracle herbs or homeopathic remedies that can completely cure this progressive, debilitating condition. There are however, several things dog owners can do at home to help their dogs stay comfortable, especially when surgery is not an option due to age or financial constraints. Before trying any natural treatment for laryngeal paralysis in dogs, it’s important to have a vet diagnose this condition and rule out other medical disorders known for causing similar symptoms.
Laryngeal paralysis is the malfunction of the dog’s voice box, also known as larynx. A dog’s larynx carries several important functions such as protecting swallowed food or water from entering the dog’s lungs, regulating the flow of air into the dog’s lungs and producing sounds for communication (whine, barks, howls).
Due to all these important functions, the larynx is often nicknamed as “the gatekeeper of the upper respiratory tract.”
Laryngeal paralysis in dogs may be partial or complete. Most partial cases, go on to progress into complete at some point or another. When partial, a common symptom is heavy, noisy or raspy breathing, often noticed when the dog is relaxed. Some dog owners describe the sound produced as a “dog snoring while awake.”
On top of this, some dogs may choke, cough or gag after eating or drinking due to impaired function of the laryngeal folds. This means that affected dogs risk inhaling their food and water and aspirating it in their lungs, predisposing them to aspiration pneumonia.
Things get further serious as the condition progresses and there is complete bilateral paralysis. Affected dogs have trouble breathing, and in severe cases, they may go into a respiratory crisis. Affected dogs may attempt to breathe deeply, but because they cannot, this creates a vicious cycle of anxiety and frantic attempts to breathe.
As of today, the only effective treatment for laryngeal paralysis in dogs is a surgical procedure known as tieback surgery. The other option is management, but this condition can be managed only up to a certain point.
Natural Treatment for Laryngeal Paralysis in Dogs
As mentioned, laryngeal paralysis is a serious condition that can have severe repercussions when left untreated. For those folks who decide to skip surgery due to financial constraints or because of the dog’s age of other health problems, all that is left to do is manage the disease as much as possible and keep the dog comfortable. Some natural treatments for laryngeal paralysis in dogs can come handy, but it’s important to first consult with the vet.
In order to best manage this condition, it may necessary to have some medications obtained by prescription from a veterinarian on hand. For early onset of laryngeal paralysis, a promising drug that may turn helpful is Doxepin, a human tricyclic antidepressant also known by the trade name Sinequan. More about it can be read here: Doxepin for dogs laryngeal paralysis.
Other prescription drugs that may turn helpful include acepromazine (or other sedatives like alprazolam, or diazepam) to calm dogs down and reduce the effort of breathing, cough suppressants to reduce coughing (codeine, butorphanol, hycodan) and steroids to decrease the inflammation in the throat which may cause the laryngeal flaps to swell thus, worsening the situation.
A word of caution is needed though with steroids as they can cause increased panting as a side effect and tend to lower the immune system which can predispose affected dogs to the risk of lung infection, should the dog aspirate any food or fluid into the lungs. So now, let’s take a look at natural treatment for laryngeal paralysis in dogs.
Keep Your Dog Cool
When the summer months approach, things often get more critical for dogs with laryngeal paralysis with breathing problems. Panting, in dogs with this condition, is not an easy task considering that, affected dogs cannot fully open the larynx, which seriously cuts down their ability to cool themselves.
Keep Your Dog Calm
It’s important to keep affected dogs calm and comfortable. Dog owners may also need to decrease their dog’s activity level and do everything possible to reduce stress. Dogs with laryngeal paralysis tend to cope with their condition better if they are comfortable being in the house and there is minimal exertion when sent outside to potty. It is also best to prevent affected dogs from playing hard on hot days or getting them overexerted. Stressed dogs can be helped with natural supplements such as Rescue Remedy and/or a DAP collar that releases dog appeasing pheromone.
Maintain Healthy Joints
Laryngeal paralysis may sometimes be part of a full condition that is now being called geriatric onset laryngeal paralysis polyneuropathy, abbreviated as GOLPP. This condition often starts with typical signs of laryngeal paralysis such as raspy breathing, a hoarse voice, difficulty swallowing and then progresses into hind limb weakness over time. This because, not only are the nerves deteriorating with this condition, but the muscles are as well. Supplements containing glucosamine and chondroitin can turn helpful, points out veterinarian Dr. Gary.
As mentioned above, sometimes laryngeal paralysis may be part of the Geriatric Onset Laryngeal Paralysis Polyneuropathy, abbreviated as GOLPP. GOLPP affects three distinct regions, the larynx, with its associated stridor and respiratory problems, the back legs, with their progressive weakness, and the esophagus, with its regurgitation which may predispose affected dogs to aspiration pneumonia.
Dogs with laryngeal paralysis and acid reflux may benefit from medications that stimulate the stomach to empty such as ranitidine, cisapride and metoclopramide. Ranitidine, on top of stimulating gastric emptying, works also fairly well as an acid reducer.
The use of famotidine and omeprazole for their acid reducing qualities makes sense too as the goal is to make the reflux less acidic and therefore less damaging. Although several of these medications are available over the counter, it is important to consult with a vet prior to administering any of them.
” I believe all patients diagnosed with/suspected of having Lar Par (surgically treated or not) should be on “promotility” medications lifelong, to prevent aspiration pneumonia and make them more comfortable without heartburn.”~Dr. Lara Marie Rasmussen, Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons
Some Natural Supplements
And what about holistic, natural treatment for laryngeal paralysis in dogs? One holistic medication that may turn helpful to dogs suffering from laryngeal paralysis is Easy Sure produced by PetAlive. According to veterinarian Dr. Loretta, this supplement helps with several neurologic malfunctions. She also suggests acupuncture to help the dog breathe easier.
Another natural treatment for laryngeal paralysis in dogs comes from homeopathy. According to Dr. Christina Chambreau, causticum can help for paralysis, especially of a single part. The National Center for Homeopathy, claims this homeopathic remedy to be good for “Laryngitis from exposure to cold, from paralysis of laryngeal muscles, from overuse in singers, from anger or grief. One of the most commonly used remedies for laryngitis.”
Diffusers that emanate essential oils can be helpful too. AnimalEO produces some essential oils that can be helpful in calming dogs down and help ease their breathing.