Tonsilitis in Dogs

Tonsillitis may affect canines of all breeds, ages or sexes. Dogs have 2 tonsils, located on each side of the throat. The tonsils may get infected and inflamed, causing the tonsillitis. In order to treat the tonsillitis, the causes must be determined first.

Causes of Tonsillitis

The tonsils belong to the dog’s lymphatic system and are located in the dog’s throat, being protected by 2 pockets, known as the tonsillar crypts.

Tonsillitis may occur due to different causes; most commonly, the inflammation is caused by an infection, which can be viral, bacterial or fungal.

Other causes of tonsillitis include:

  • The ingestion of a foreign object that got stuck in the mouth or throat
  • Frequent vomiting that will irritate the tonsils
  • Coughing, dry or productive (which may be caused by the kennel cough, respiratory infections or allergies)
  • Untreated tooth infections
  • Gum or periodontal disease

Symptoms of Tonsillitis

Tonsillitis may cause discomfort and the dog will refuse to eat to avoid the pain while swallowing.

The dog may also drool in excess and may also be lethargic and depressed.

Other symptoms of tonsillitis may include symptoms specific to the cause of the tonsillitis. These symptoms may include fever, coughing, sneezing, dermatitis, runny nose, watery eyes, swollen and red gums or bad breath.

Diagnosis of Tonsillitis

When the tonsils are irritated, they will get larger and red and they will no longer stay in the tonsillar crypts. Consequently, when opening the dog’s mouth and looking at the throat, the tonsils will be visible.

The vet may perform additional tests to determine the cause of tonsillitis. Blood tests, urinalysis or fecal matter examination may be required to determine the causes of tonsillitis. Allergy testing may be performed if the vet suspects allergies.

The vet will also take a look at the throat to identify possible foreign objects that may be causing the irritation.

An examination of the teeth and gums will also be performed.

Treatment of Tonsillitis

Even if the tonsillitis is not a severe condition and may go away without treatment, it should be treated, as the condition may become chronic and cause a lot of discomfort.

The treatment of tonsillitis will depend on the underlying cause.

If the tonsillitis is caused by chronic vomiting, the cause of the vomiting must be established and treated. Dewromers may be administered to eliminate worms that may cause vomiting; if the dog is vomiting due to food intolerance, a dietary change must be made.

If the tonsillitis is caused by a foreign object stuck in the throat, the vet will extract it (if needed through surgery) and will administer antibiotics to prevent infections and other complications.

Respiratory infections should be treated with antibiotics or fungicides. 

If the tonsillitis is caused by a dental or gum disease, the vet will determine what needs to be done; if the tooth is abscessed, the dog needs antibiotics before anything else is done.

It may also happen that the causes of tonsillitis are unknown; the vet may decide for the removal of the tonsils.