You Make The Diagnosis: Coughing and Gagging Dog

Pictured below is the mouth of a friendly Labrador Retiever who needed dental X-rays and a periodontal treatment. When he was being intubated, examination of the back of his throat revealed an abnormal right tonsil. While I was examining the tonsil for a good place to biopsy it, I found the abnormal structure being held with the forceps. Examine the image and then answer the following questions: What is the mass? What caused it? How is this condition treated?

polyp tonsil

Diagnosis: Fibromucosal Polyp

The mass held with forceps is a fibromucosal polyp that was attached by a band of connective tissue to this dog’s right tonsil. Although this is a benign condition, it is very uncomfortable for the dog. This large mass hung in the back of his throat making it difficult to breathe and eat. He coughed, cleared his throat and gagged a lot. These polyps are caused by chronic irritation usually from trauma, an infection or a foreign body that is stuck in the tonsil. Surgical removal is curative as long as all of the polyp is removed. The good news for this dog is that the margins were clean. Here is the picture of his throat taken with the polyp removed. The tonsil is outlined in red and the sutured stalk is highlighted in yellow.

tonsil post op snip

Published by kristennelsondvm

Dr. Kristen Nelson grew up on a farm in Watertown, Minn., where she developed a deep love for animals of all kinds. She received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine. Kris then completed a small-animal internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition to writing and speaking, she cares for small and exotic animals in Scottsdale, Az. Dr. Nelson is widely quoted in the media. Her credits include Ladies’ Home Journal, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times and numerous radio and television interviews. Dr. Nelson has written two books, Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life and Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love. Kris and her husband Steve share their home with rescued cats, birds and a dog.