Vocal cord paralysis (VCP)
Last week I said that vocal cords are situated in the larynx (voice box). The function of these vocal cords can be compromised as the dog gets older and reaches middle age or old age. This seems to occur especially in large breeds of dogs. (If my memory serves me well, the Siberian Husky is one of the very specific breeds that often experiences this problem; fortunately, we do not see many exemplars of this breed in Guyana).
The condition can be recognized by a characteristic croupy noise as the dog breathes in (this noise is sometimes call ‘roaring’). It comes on gradually and may appear at first only after strenuous activity or emotional upsets.
This is not an easily reversible condition. The best policy is to remove the dog from an environment which would excite him into prolonged and excessive barking.
Yes, dogs (and moreso cats) do have asthma attacks. Asthma is really an allergic reaction which affects primarily the bronchial (large breathing) tubes. An animal suffering from an asthma attack will exhibit bouts of sneezing and wheezing and coughing. There is a distinct wheezing sound as the animal exhales.
All sorts of things precipitate bronchial asthma. Pollen, fungus (mould), house and/or yard dust, are the usual culprits. However, the literature documents that animals can show asthma-type allergic reactions even to certain types of food and chemicals and insect bites. If the bouts of asthma keep recurring (because the precipitating factor has not been removed), then the situation can lead to a chronic (long-lasting) lung ailment.
So, how do we treat an asthmatic cat or dog? Obviously, the first thing to do is to remove the causative agent or remove the animal from exposure to the causative agent. This is easier said than done. At certain times of the year (dry season), dust (pollen included) abounds. It is difficult to remove the animal from this all pervading environment. Also, the actual agent causing the asthma may be difficult to identify. You may wish to keep the animal indoors during the especially damaging (to the animal) periods. One can buy some over-the-counter drugs, especially those that have a sedating effect and those which reduce irritation and are bronchial dilators. Your pharmacist could advise you here.
Really though, the treatment of asthma is a job for your vet. In addition to the syrups or suspensions which he/she may administer/prescribe, it is likely that anti-inflammatory (steroids) medication may be drawn into our defence (curative) arsenal.
This ailment is associated with a dry, harsh, hacking cough, which is exacerbated when the dog is excited or exerted. I have seen cases where the CAB is more pronounced at certain specific times of the year (for example, in the rainy season) when the humidity levels are high, but also in the long dry season when the dust particles/pollen are blowing about. I have also encountered CAB that displays itself throughout the year, irrespective of seasonal changes.
If there is mucus (clear, thick slime) involvement (not pus), then one can use expectorants, bronchial dilators and glucocorticoids – all of which should be administered only under veterinary supervision – as our best means to counteract this problem.
Please implement disease preventative measures (vaccinations, routine dewormings, monthly anti-Heartworm medication, etc) and adopt-a-pet from the GSPCA’s Animal Clinic and Shelter at Robb Street and Orange Walk, if you have the wherewithal to care well for the animals. Do not stray your unwanted pets, take them to the GSPCA’s Clinic and Shelter instead. If you do not wish your pet to have puppies or kittens, you may exploit the GSPCA’s free spay and neutering programme. If you see anyone being cruel to an animal, or if you need any technical information, please get in touch with the Clinic and Shelter by calling 226-4237.