Dalmatian Laryngeal Paralysis

Dalmatian Laryngeal Paralysis is a condition that affects a Dalmatian’s larynx (voice box). It’s associated with a larynx having partial or total paralysis and can significantly reduce a dog’s ability to bark, pant or exercise normally. The cause of this disorder remains unknown and there is no known cure. Treatment consists mainly of supportive measures to help reduce the severity of their symptoms.

Symptoms of Dalmatian Laryngeal Paralysis

The symptoms of Dalmatian Laryngeal Paralysis can vary from mild to severe and include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Noisy breathing
  • Hoarse or raspy voice
  • Gagging or coughing after eating or drinking
  • Exercise intolerance

In some cases, their larynx can become completely paralyzed causing respiratory distress.

Diagnosing Dalmatian Laryngeal Paralysis

Diagnosing Dalmatian Laryngeal Paralysis can be difficult because there are no diagnostic tests available to specifically detect the condition. Diagnosing the condition typically needs a laryngoscopy or CT scan of their larynx. During a laryngoscopy, a veterinarian will use a scope to examine the inside of their throat and larynx for signs of paralysis. The CT scan will allow the veterinarian to view detailed images of their internal structures and can help diagnosing their condition.

Stages of Dalmatian Laryngeal Paralysis

Dalmatian Laryngeal Paralysis can be split into four stages:

Stage 1

Mild to moderate paralysis of their larynx. These dogs usually do not have difficulty breathing, but can have mild symptoms such as hoarseness and exercise intolerance.

Stage 2

Moderate to severe larynx paralysis. These dogs typically have difficulty breathing and might need supplemental oxygen to help them breathe.

Stage 3

Severe larynx paralysis. These dogs have difficulty breathing and will likely need monitoring and supportive care, such as oxygen supplementation, to prevent respiratory distress.

Stage 4

Total larynx paralysis. These dogs are at risk for life-threatening respiratory distress and must be monitored and given intensive supportive care.

Treating Dalmatian Laryngeal Paralysis

Treating Dalmatian Laryngeal Paralysis is aimed at alleviating symptoms and reducing the severity of their disorder. Treatment can include:

  • Supplemental oxygen or nebulization therapy to help with breathing difficulties
  • Medications to reduce inflammation in their larynx
  • Surgery to widen their airway (laryngoplasty) 
  • Specialized diets to help reduce inflammation in their larynx
  • Exercise restriction during episodes of respiratory distress
  • Supplemental heat or cooling to reduce laryngeal swelling

The prognosis for dogs with Dalmatian Laryngeal Paralysis is variable and depends on the stage of their disorder. Mild cases can often be controlled with supportive care, while more severe cases can require intensive medical management. In some cases, surgical intervention could be necessary to relieve symptoms and improve their quality of life.

Preventing Dalmatian Laryngeal Paralysis

Unfortunately, there is no known way to prevent Dalmatian Laryngeal Paralysis. Since the cause of this disorder remains unknown, it’s not possible to predict which dogs might be affected. The best way to prevent the progression of this condition is to diagnose and treat it early if any signs are seen. It’s also important for Dalmatian owners to keep their pets well socialized and give them plenty of exercise to help keep their larynx healthy.