Laryngeal Collapse in French Bulldogs

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Laryngeal Collapse

Laryngeal collapse is a condition that happens when there is a loss of rigidity and support for the laryngeal cartilage, causing the larynx to collapse.

The larynx protects the lungs for aspiration while swallowing, allows for barking & growling, and serves as a passage for airflow to the lungs.

It is also called the “voice box”.

This leads to severe respiratory problems that make it hard for your dog to breathe in.

Laryngeal collapse typically develops in dogs older than 2 years but can happen earlier in brachycephalic breeds such as the French Bulldog.

Symptoms of Laryngeal Collapse in French Bulldogs

Laryngeal collapse does not suddenly occur… it gradually worsens over time.

The most common sign of laryngeal collapse that is seen years before laryngeal collapse is noisy breathing & difficulty breathing. Frenchies can be noisy breathers, however, they shouldn’t necessarily be struggling to breathe on a regular basis.

  • Noisy breathing & difficulty breathing that has been present for years
  • A sudden worsening of respiratory symptoms
    • This can result in blue tongue/gums from lack of oxygen, gagging, choking, vomiting, and restlessness
  • Labored, open-mouth breathing and panting
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Retraction of the lips (indicative of increased breathing effort)
  • Elevated body temperature (caused by the exaggerated breathing effort)
  • Collapse & death (in severe cases)

How is Laryngeal Collapse diagnosed in French Bulldogs?

Unfortunately, laryngeal collapse often goes undiagnosed.

As a French Bulldog owner, it’s important to know the early signs & risk factors for laryngeal collapse. With preventative measures such as lifestyle & diet changes and surgical treatments available

What Diagnosis Involves

  • An examination of the upper airway
  • Laryngeal evaluation under light anesthesia
  • Chest radiograms to evaluate the heart and lungs
  • Radiographs of the neck when there is trauma involved

What causes laryngeal collapse in French Bulldogs?

Laryngeal collapse usually develops as a complication to long-standing brachycephalic syndrome.

High levels of resistance in the airway due to any breathing issue can place a lot of strain on the respiratory system over the years.

Resolve breathing issues early

This means that you must treat breathing issues such as stenotic nares, elongated soft palates, and everted laryngeal saccules before they progress into something worse.

Stages of Laryngeal Collapse

The treatment for your Frenchie’s laryngeal collapse will differ depending on the severity of it.

Tips for any dog with Laryngeal Collapse

What can you do if your French Bulldog is suffering from laryngeal collapse? Here are a few general tips for any dog with laryngeal collapse.

  • Maintain a healthy weight. If your dog is overweight, speak to your vet about a strict weight loss diet
  • Avoid strenuous activity in warm climates (72°f or 22°c )
  • Reduce exercise duration & intensity
  • Use a harness— leashes put strain directly on the airway
  • Determine whether there is a surgical option available to improve your Frenchie’s airway

Luckily, there are many different treatments options depending on the severity of the laryngeal collapse.

Stage 1 – Mild laryngeal collapse

With stage 1 laryngeal collapse, we get what is called “eversion of the laryngeal saccules”.

What this means is that some of the tissue in front of the vocal cords are pulled into the windpipe, partially obstructing airflow.

Treatment

  • Shortening the elongated soft palate
  • Enlargement of the nostrils (stenotic nares)
  • Removal of excessive, obstructive tissues within the throat.

Stage 2 – Moderate laryngeal collapse

Laryngeal collapse is considered to be “stage 2” when there is an “inward deviation of the lower cartilage of the larynx and/or the folds of tissue around the epiglottis.”

Treatment

Stage 3 – Severe laryngeal collapse

In this stage of laryngeal collapse, there is media deviation of the upper cartilage of the larynx.

Symptoms

  • Labored, open-mouth breathing and panting
  • Retraction of the lips (indicative of increased breathing effort)

Treatment

Sources

https://www.saintfrancis.org/wp-content/uploads/Laryngeal-Collapse-in-Dogs.pdf
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22122300/
https://www.petplace.com/article/dogs/pet-health/laryngeal-collapse-in-dogs/