Dog trains man

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

About Laryngeal Paralysis, Idiopathic, and GOLPP

Two weeks ago I wrote about how I had nothing to show for when we went to the vet. I thought that would be the last of it but no.

It ain't over until the fat lady sings.

I did however already earlier noticed a small change in Kenzo's voice, and his bark appeared a little more hoarse. The vet checked his heart and lungs but all was well and we discarded it. Then she found the start of arthritis in his left front shoulder and we started him on painkillers. Kenzo was flying high and low again and we thought that was it, until his higher energy levels due to the painkillers revealed his breathing wasn't quite right - here is a recording of it. That was two weeks ago.

Back at the vet, more tests were done. Mostly tests to rule out everything else until there was only one thing left. Laryngeal paralysis.

As it says, the larynx paralyses, and the dog is having it difficult to breath. The immediate danger is when they overheat and are not able to breathe properly, it brings them in a state of panic, in turn making it even more difficult to breath, in turn leading to more panic, until it spirals out of control and they actually stop breathing and die. LP can be "cured" by an in itself risky surgical procedure which additionally causes pneumonia problems for 1 out of 4 dogs after surgery. Some research suggest an even higher number.

Laryngeal paralysis is only the short term description of the issue though. It was long believed to be an isolated and idiopathic illness, meaning cause unknown, until Bryden J. Stanley from Michigan State University discovered in 2010 it was part of a bigger neurological problem. To describe the illness better, they decided to rename it to GOLPP, "Geriatric Onset Laryngeal Paralysis Polyneuropathy".

GOLPP is a progressive degeneration of nerves. Over time, hind-end weakness and generalized muscle wasting will occur. This will slowly progress over several years. This type of neurological degeneration is not painful, and affected dogs are still bright, alert, and happy. In on average 2-3 years dogs are completely paralyzed in their hind quarter and lost most muscle tissue. It sounds a lot like DM, Degenerative Myelopathy to me. It can't be cured or medicated, but you can slow it down with physical therapy. More on GOLPP you can find on this website from Michigan State's GOLPP study group.

Back to Kenzo's diagnosis.

The vet was honest. I need a very experienced vet to make a final and valid diagnosis and to consider surgery for the immediate risk. She is not sure such a specialist can even be found in Denmark, but she is actively helping me to find a vet for a good 2nd opinion to start with.

She warned me too, not to haul Kenzo though an array of specialists with more testing and sedation only to seek for a 100% valid diagnosis. And she is right, the more I think of it. What could I do with the diagnosis? Put it in a golden frame and look at it? A much better option is probably, to start a physical treatment therapy and adjusted daily program as if Kenzo has GOLLP. It is in the end, the only thing I can do for him anyway.

Everything else is ruled out so I shouldn't worry we missed something. This is what we are looking at. And although a final diagnosis could help me find certainty, it wouldn't matter for Kenzo if he is diagnosed final or not.

What I feel I need to do is to accept the uncertainty, find my own way to deal with it, and focus my efforts on helping Kenzo and enjoying the time we have left. And who knows, maybe we are one of the lucky ones, where GOLPP progresses slow, or even not at all. After all, it ain't over until the fat lady sings.


  1. I saw your update on FB and headed straight here. Had to grab a few tissues. I so hoped that Kenzo's health issues were "nothing." This is a bitter pill to swallow. Please know you and Kenzo are in my prayers.

  2. Oh Leo, I'm so sorry to hear this news about Kenzo. I was so hoping you'd find it was something with an easy fix. Ultimately, doing the best we can for our dogs and appreciating them for the time we're together is the best we can do. Starting the therapy and hoping for the best the choice I'd be making as well. Sending my love and hoping for the best for you and our buddy.


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