Pharyngitis in Dogs

Pharyngitis in Dogs

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Your dog cannot vocalize the pain in its throat. You become aware only when you observe visible signs like sneezing, froth, or bad breath. Pharyngitis is quite a common disease in canines. The problem is that it may sometimes indicate a more severe disease. The source of the problem is the pharynx, and thus its name. The pharynx is the walls of the throat, and it becomes swollen either due to bacterial or viral infection. These could be gum disease or distemper, or mouth cancer. The dog may also injure its throat when it chews a sharp object. The tonsils are also at risk.


The common cause of pharyngitis is a variation of saliva acidity. There could be many reasons behind such a change. The foremost reason is the throat being damaged by sharp objects like porcupine quills, bone parts, or thorns. Mouth cancer is also another fairly common cause. Pharyngitis can also occur if the upper respiratory system succumbs to bacterial infection. Tonsilitis and viral diseases like distemper are yet another cause.

Variations of saliva acidity play a significant part. Kennel cough, like respiratory system infections, could lead to pharyngitis. Any injury to the throat and mouth or sinus infections may also lead to this condition. Your dog could suffer if something gets stuck in its throat. Other than these, the incidence of tooth disease or gum one could play a part. Failure of the liver or kidney also leads to pharyngitis. The cause behind this problem could also be distemper, parvovirus, and multiple other systemic diseases. The reason may also be an autoimmune disease like hypothyroidism or canine lupus.

Symptoms and diagnosis

Your dog will exhibit a few symptoms when afflicted with pharyngitis. You must keep track of all its manifestations. Note down their progress. This will help the veterinarian to diagnose the condition correctly. The list of symptoms includes a dry cough which becomes more acute at night, and the canine finds it hard to swallow food. The dog's tonsils get swollen, and white mucus covers the red pharynx. Vomiting is a common occurrence, along with drooling and gagging. The breathing will turn complicated due to possible abscesses present in the throat. This condition complicates breathing as well; Swollen gums are accompanied by bad breath and fever. Sneezing is common. There will be a bloody discharge if your dog has swallowed any sharp object. The veterinarian may do multiple tests to make sure that the correct diagnosis is being done. The medical professional will look at the symptoms both individually and collectively to find out the exact problem suffered by your dog. The veterinarian will also find the strain of the virus or the infection which affects the dog.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you treat pharyngitis in dogs?

The treatment of pharyngitis in dogs will depend on the underlying cause of the condition. If the cause is bacterial, the veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics to help eliminate the infection. If the cause is viral, supportive care such as rest, hydration, and anti-inflammatory medication may be recommended to help manage the symptoms while the dog's immune system fights off the infection. If pharyngitis in dogs is caused by a foreign object lodged in the throat, surgery may be necessary to remove the object and any dead tissue around it. The surgery is usually performed under general anesthesia to ensure the safety and comfort of the dog. During the surgery, the veterinarian will make an incision in the dog's throat to access the foreign object and carefully remove it. They will also examine the surrounding tissue to determine if any damage has been caused by the object and remove any dead tissue if necessary. After the surgery, the dog will be monitored closely to ensure proper healing and may need medication to manage pain and inflammation. In addition to medication, the veterinarian may also recommend dietary changes such as feeding soft foods or moistening dry food to make it easier for the dog to swallow. It is important to monitor the dog's water intake and ensure they are drinking enough fluids to stay hydrated.

What are the symptoms of pharyngitis?

Pharyngitis in dogs is characterized by inflammation of the pharynx, which is the part of the throat that lies between the mouth and the esophagus. Common symptoms of pharyngitis in dogs include coughing, gagging or retching, difficulty swallowing, drooling, and loss of appetite.

What antibiotics are used for pharyngitis in dogs?

The choice of antibiotics for pharyngitis in dogs depends on the severity of the condition and the underlying cause. Your veterinarian may recommend antibiotics such as amoxicillin, clindamycin, or erythromycin to treat bacterial pharyngitis in dogs. If the pharyngitis is caused by a viral infection, antibiotics may not be effective, and other supportive care measures may be recommended.

How long does pharyngitis usually last?

Acute pharyngitis is more common than chronic pharyngitis in dogs, and treatment typically involves managing the symptoms and addressing the underlying cause if possible. Acute pharyngitis often resolves within a few days to a week with appropriate care. Chronic pharyngitis, on the other hand, can persist for several weeks or even months and may require more aggressive treatment, such as long-term antibiotics or anti-inflammatory medication.

What happens if pharyngitis is left untreated?

If left untreated, pharyngitis can lead to several complications. In bacterial pharyngitis, the infection can spread to other parts of the body, such as the sinuses, ears, and lungs, leading to more severe infections such as sinusitis, otitis media, and pneumonia. In some cases, untreated bacterial pharyngitis can also lead to rheumatic fever, a serious condition that can cause permanent damage to the heart and other organs. Chronic pharyngitis that is left untreated can lead to persistent throat discomfort and difficulty in swallowing. It may also increase the risk of developing other respiratory infections. Additionally, chronic pharyngitis may also increase the risk of developing certain types of throat cancer.

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