Throat Infection in Dogs

A throat infection also known as pharyngitis and tonsillitis in dogs is typically caused by a respiratory infection, injuries or gum disease. The saliva will protect the throat from infections, but in some cases, the infection cannot be prevented and there may be underlying conditions leading to the infection.

Causes of Throat Infection in Dogs

The immune system protects the dog’s mouth and throat from infections. The saliva secreted by various glands located in the mouth and mandible will protect the mouth from the infectious agents. The acidity of the saliva is alkaline and will also contain a number of enzymes that eliminate bacteria and other infectious agents. The most common causes that will weaken the immune system and change the acidity of the saliva resulting in a throat inflection include:

  • Respiratory infections, that may be viral, bacterial or fungal such as the kennel cough
  • An infection of the sinuses
  • Cuts or injuries in the mouth or throat
  • Objects that get stuck in the mouth or throat
  • Teeth and gum infections
  • Metabolic illnesses such as kidney or liver failure
  • Systemic diseases such as the parvovirus or canine distemper
  • Autoimmune diseases

Symptoms of a Throat Infection

You may recognize a throat infection from a number of symptoms, such as:

  • Lack of appetite, as any ingested food can irritate the throat
  • eating more slowly
  • Elevated fever
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing, typically a dry cough and experienced mostly during nighttime
  • Excessive drooling
  • Swollen tonsils
  • Inflamed gums or visible dental abscesses
  • Discharges, which may contain blood, especially if the dog has ingested a foreign object
  • Bad breath

Diagnosing a Dog Throat Infection

A throat infection will be diagnosed firstly based on the symptoms displayed by the pet. For instance, if the dog chews only on 1 side, he may have a dental problem. If he sneezes or coughs, this points to a respiratory infection. These symptoms can help the vet establish what types of additional tests he needs to perform. Blood tests may be needed to detect an infection. If there are discharges, these will have to be tested.

Treatment Options for a Dog Throat Infection

After the vet gets the results from the tests, he will establish the course of treatment that needs to be applied to treat the throat infection. Antibiotics should be given to the dog if the diagnosis is positive for a respiratory or sinus infection. The vet can recommend antibiotics according to the severity and the stage of the infection. If there is a foreign object trapped in the dog’s mouth or throat, this will have to be extracted or surgically removed and the dog will have to get antibiotics. A tooth infection may require extraction, but only after a course of antibiotics. The vet may also recommend a cleaning and a scaling for gum disease. Metabolic illnesses such as kidney failure will be treated with a change in diet and IV fluids.