Do Dogs Have Tonsils? And Can They Get Tonsillitis?

If you have ever suffered from a sore throat, you might wonder do dogs have tonsils and if they can experience the same discomfort. The answer is yes, dogs have tonsils and they can also get tonsillitis, although it is not very common.

What are tonsils and what do they do?

Tonsils are small masses of lymphoid tissue that are part of the immune system. They are located at the back of the throat and help fight off infections by producing antibodies and trapping bacteria and viruses. Dogs have two pairs of visible tonsils: the palatine tonsils, which are on either side of the pharynx, and the lingual tonsils, which are at the base of the tongue. Two other types of tonsils are not easily seen: the pharyngeal tonsils, also known as adenoids, which are in the nasopharynx, and the tubal tonsils, which are near the opening of the eustachian tubes.

What causes tonsillitis in dogs?

Tonsillitis is an inflammation of the tonsils that usually occurs as a result of another disease or condition that affects the mouth or throat. Some of the possible causes of tonsillitis in dogs are:

  • Infection by bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites
  • A foreign object stuck in the mouth or throat, such as a bone, a stick, or a plant fiber
  • Chronic vomiting or regurgitation due to an enlarged esophagus or other digestive problems
  • Chronic coughing due to bronchitis, asthma, or heart disease
  • Severe dental and gum disease that leads to plaque accumulation and bacterial infection
  • Tumors or cancer in the tonsil or nearby tissues

Tonsillitis is more likely to affect small breeds of dogs and young dogs whose immune system is still developing. Sometimes, tonsillitis can occur without any obvious underlying cause. This is called primary tonsillitis and it is rare in dogs.

What are the symptoms of tonsillitis in dogs?

dog not feeling good

Tonsillitis can cause various signs and symptoms in dogs, depending on the severity and duration of the inflammation. Some of the common symptoms are:

  • Difficulty swallowing or eating
  • Loss of appetite or weight loss
  • Drooling or salivating excessively
  • Gagging or coughing up mucus
  • Bad breath or foul-smelling discharge from the mouth
  • Pain or discomfort in the throat or mouth
  • Swollen, red, or bleeding tonsils that may protrude from their normal position
  • Fever or lethargy if there is a secondary infection

How is tonsillitis diagnosed and treated in dogs?

If you notice any of the symptoms above, you should take your dog to the veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment. The veterinarian will examine your dog’s mouth and throat and look for any signs of inflammation, infection, or foreign objects. They may also take a swab or a biopsy from the tonsil to test for the presence of bacteria or other pathogens. Additionally, they may perform blood tests, x-rays, or ultrasounds to rule out any other diseases or conditions that may be causing or contributing to tonsillitis.

The treatment of tonsillitis in dogs depends on the cause and severity of the condition. The main goals are to reduce the inflammation, eliminate the infection, and address any underlying problems. The veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs, painkillers, or antihistamines to help your dog recover. They may also recommend dietary changes, oral hygiene measures, or home remedies to soothe your dog’s throat and prevent further irritation. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the tonsils or any foreign objects or tumors that are causing trouble.

How can you prevent tonsillitis in dogs?

Tonsillitis can be prevented by keeping your dog’s mouth and throat healthy and free from infection. Some of the preventive measures you can take are:

  • Provide your dog with clean water and fresh food that is appropriate for their size and age
  • Avoid giving your dog bones, sticks, or other hard objects that can damage their teeth or get stuck in their throat
  • Brush your dog’s teeth regularly and use dental chews or toys to prevent plaque buildup and gum disease
  • Check your dog’s mouth and throat periodically for any signs of inflammation, injury, or foreign objects
  • Keep your dog away from other sick dogs or animals that may carry infectious agents
  • Vaccinate your dog against common diseases that can affect their respiratory system
  • Take your dog to the veterinarian for regular check-ups and dental cleaning
Do Dogs Have Tonsils? Check dog's mouth

Conclusion of Do Dogs Have Tonsils

Tonsillitis is a condition that can affect dogs of any age or breed, but it is more common in small and young dogs. It is usually caused by an underlying disease or condition that affects the mouth or throat, but it can also occur without any apparent reason. Tonsillitis can cause various symptoms, such as difficulty swallowing, loss of appetite, drooling, coughing, bad breath, and fever. Tonsillitis can be diagnosed and treated by a veterinarian, who may prescribe medication, surgery, or other interventions. Tonsillitis can be prevented by keeping your dog’s mouth and throat healthy and free from infection.


How do you know if your dog has tonsillitis?

Tonsillitis doesn’t always come with readily noticeable symptoms. Sometimes, it may manifest as gagging, followed by retching or a brief, gentle cough, leading to the discharge of small quantities of mucus. In more severe cases of tonsillitis, you might observe signs like reduced appetite, lethargy, increased salivation, and difficulties in swallowing.

Do dogs have tonsil stones?

Over time, this accumulation will solidify and undergo a process of calcification, resulting in the formation of what is commonly referred to as “tonsil stones.” If left unaddressed, these tonsil stones can cause discomfort and are at risk of becoming infected. It’s important to note that, as a general rule, smaller dog breeds are more prone to tonsillitis compared to larger breeds, except in cases where the inflammation is triggered by the presence of a foreign object.

Do dogs have tonsils removed?

Yes, dogs can have their tonsils removed in a surgical procedure known as tonsillectomy. Tonsillectomy in dogs is typically performed when the tonsils are persistently inflamed, infected, or causing significant health issues. While the procedure is less common in dogs compared to humans, it can be recommended by a veterinarian in cases of chronic tonsillitis or if the tonsils are causing problems with breathing, swallowing, or other health issues. Tonsillectomy is a surgical procedure that should only be considered when necessary and is performed by a licensed veterinarian. It is not a routine procedure and is only done in specific cases where the benefits outweigh the risks.

How do I know if my dog’s throat hurts?

You can discern this by paying attention to any changes in your dog’s barking pattern, particularly a noticeable alteration in the quality of their bark. If you observe their bark becoming hoarse or sounding different, it could indicate that your dog has a sore throat.

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