Canine Throat Infections – Causes and Symptoms

Tess Thompson

Dogs can be infected by different kinds of throat infections and conditions. The saliva in the mouth plays a critical role in the prevention of such infections. The parotid and mandibular glands in the mouth of a dog produce most of the daytime and nocturnal saliva. Besides these there are two more glands that secrete saliva.

Dog saliva is alkaline and it contains antibacterial enzymes, which along with the normal flora of bacteria provide protection against throat infections. Despite this protection, canine throat infections can occur due to a number of reasons. These are:

  • Cuts
  • Burns
  • Foreign bodies stuck in the mouth
  • Diseases of the gums
  • Structures that support the teeth
  • Metabolic diseases like kidney failure.
  • Systemic diseases like parvovirus infection, distemper, herpes and pseudo rabies

Stomatitis or throat inflammation can manifest itself in various ways. A tender mouth compels the dog to eat slowly. He may also be selective and drop coarse and large foods. Continuously eating on one side of the mouth implies that he’s experiencing pain on the other side and therefore choosing to chew from one side. If the problem is severe and persists your dog may stop eating completely. These symptoms do not confirm the presence of a throat infection and can also occur due to pain in the jaws or a toothache. However, such symptoms are a sure sign for the owner to investigate further.

Another sign of a throat infection is excessive drooling. A certain amount of drooling is normal in dogs, especially in breeds with loose pendulous lips. Excessive drooling or hyper-salivation is associated with psychological causes but they may also occur due to a periodontal disease, dental abscess or throat infection.

Unlike humans, sore throat or pharyngitis in dogs does not occur as an isolated infection and is usually associated with infections in the mouth, sinuses or respiratory tract. As pharyngitis and tonsillitis have the same cause, they often appear together in dogs. Tonsils are part of the lymph tissue and are located at the back of the throat just as in humans. They are not visible unless inflamed. Tonsillitis in dogs is often secondary to sore throat and seldom occurs as a primary condition. Symptoms of pharyngitis and tonsillitis are similar and include fever, pain on swallowing, loss of appetite and moist coughing. Tonsillitis, however, is characterized by a high fever (103○ F).

Generally, owners associate dog cough with throat infections. A dry hacking and spasmodic cough, however, can also indicate kennel cough. Dogs usually get infected in kennels, dog shows or after coming in contact with a previously infected dogs. The symptoms are however, are apparent only after a few days. A highly infectious disease, kennel cough in canines or tracheobronchitis is different from throat infection as it is inflammation of the trachea and the bronchi. Although pharyngitis and kennel cough are not serious conditions, dry cough in puppies and adults can prove to be serious at times. To prevent progression of the condition and secondary infections it is necessary that they be investigated well in time.


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