If your senior dog has stopped barking or changed his vocalizations, this may be a call for a visit to your veterinarian. Several different problems could lead to a loss of your dog’s voice.
- An inflammation affecting the throat and/or vocal cords can cause discomfort when barking. If the vocal cords lose their flexibility, the dog may be unable to make a sound when barking.
- A short-term voice loss may be caused by a bacterial infection.
- A cancer in the throat or vocal cords can have the same results — discomfort when barking or even permanent loss of vocal cord function.
- If your dog has lost his hearing, he may change his vocalizations or stop barking entirely.
- Some infections, diseases, and hormonal changes can lead to changes in normal barking habits if they cause changes (long or short-term) in the brain.
A dog’s loss of voice may also be caused by a mental issue, rather than a physical one. Just like older humans can experience a loss of cognitive function, so too can senior dogs. A loss of interest in barking or howling can be one sign of senile dementia in dogs. Other signs of a loss of cognitive function may be: disorientation, loss of training, losing interest in family, change in appetite, and change in sleeping patterns. A combination of medical therapy and diet changes can help stabilize the problem, at least for a while.
If your dog has changed his habits of vocalization or stopped barking entirely, you should plan on a visit to the vet. A variety of tests may be needed to pinpoint the reason for your dog’s loss of voice. Your veterinarian may even recommend a specialist to help rule out some of the many possible causes of voice loss.