Not just laryngeal paralysis…understanding GOLPP (Geriatric Onset Laryngeal Paralysis Polyneuropathy)
A late-onset, acquired laryngeal paralysis has been well documented in the literature for 40 years, presenting as a common condition in older dogs, particularly Labrador retrievers. Because a specific cause was not identified, the term “idiopathic laryngeal paralysis” became the universal descriptor. In experienced hands, surgical outcomes (“tie-back”) are generally excellent for immediate alleviation of clinical signs, with the most common complication being aspiration pneumonia. Recent investigations have shown that over two-thirds of affected dogs also have esophageal dysfunction at time of presentation, and that an insidiously progressive, generalized neurodegeneration typically ensues over several years. It is thus critical to provide long-term, follow-up care to affected dogs to optimize their quality of life. Owner education on the condition is important to manage their expectations. Management of swallowing dysfunction, early recognition of aspiration pneumonia, and physical therapy programs are thought to maintain life quality for longer.
- Idiopathic laryngeal paralysis in older dogs is often the first sign of a slowly progressive generalized neurodegeneration, including swallowing dysfunction.
- When performed correctly, “tie-back” surgery is an excellent option to immediately alleviate signs of respiratory distress.
- Follow up to manage swallowing function and aspiration pneumonia events is critical.
- Physical therapy for life plays an important role in maintaining the dog’s well-being.