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Objectives— To compare esophageal function in dogs with idiopathic laryngeal paralysis (ILP) to age and breed matched controls; to determine if dysfunction is associated with aspiration pneumonia over 1 year; and to compare clinical neurologic examination of dogs with ILP at enrollment and at 1 year.

Study Design— Prospective controlled cohort study.

Animals— Dogs with ILP (n=32) and 34 age and breed matched healthy dogs.

Methods— Mean esophageal score was determined for each phase of 3 phase esophagrams, analyzed blindly. After unilateral cricoarytenoid laryngoplasty, dogs with ILP were reexamined (including thoracic radiography) at 1, 3, 6, and 12 months. Neurologic status was recorded at enrollment, 6 and 12 months.

Results— Esophagram scores in dogs with ILP were significantly higher in each phase compared with controls, most notably with liquid (P<.0001). Dysfunction was more pronounced in the cervical and cranial thoracic esophagus. Five dogs that had aspiration pneumonia during the study had significantly higher esophagram scores than dogs that did not develop aspiration pneumonia (P<.02). Ten (31%) ILP dogs had generalized neurologic signs on enrollment and all ILP dogs developed neurologic signs by 1 year (P<.0001).

Conclusions— Dogs with ILP also have esophageal dysfunction. Postoperative aspiration pneumonia is more likely in dogs with higher esophagram scores. Dogs with ILP will most likely develop generalized neuropathy over the course of 1 year.

Clinical Relevance— Esophagrams and neurologic examinations should be performed on all dogs with ILP.