Setting: I don't think it's relevant, but a modern-day-ish fantasy setting.
One of my characters has decided that his life sucks enough that he deserves at least a temporary fling. During brainstorming with the person I most often share my storyverse with, the idea arose that the nice boy in question is (near?) mute. Ideally, this is a relatively recent condition, though I'll take what I can get, and if he's just barely capable of whispering that doesn't hurt, though is certainly not neccesary. I'm at a loss as to what else I can attempt to look up, and the sources I've looked at seem to contradict each other (most likely caused by the fact that anything that makes you hoarse seems to be referred to as "laryngitis") as to whether any given thing is feasible. I'd thought I'd heard that overexerting yourself when you already have laryngitis can potentially cause permanent damage to the voice, but I didn't find anything to confirm this and I suspect that's not nearly the amount of permanent damage I need here, anyway.
I cannot have the boy be in pain at the time the two meet, and what I read of vocal fold paralysis makes it seem to me like it's going to cause a host of problems I don't really want to inflict on him. I can, however, make an accident the cause of his voice loss. I also, if it has any relevance, want him to be able to swim (I doubt it matters, but IF it does).
He's essentially an anthropomorphic fox (though I imagine the voice box is more human than dog-like, as his bipedal form is not his natural shape, so it's safe to assume such equipment was changed to whatever was more convenient), hence my looking up debarking on the off chance I'd find something useful that could be reproduced as a freak accident, but it didn't look feasible. Also, these boys are about 15 and 19, and he's the younger of the two, so he's not had a lot of time to screw up his voice.
I'm not terribly well-versed in medical language, admittedly. What causes could I be looking at for this loss of voice? I don't need to go into much detail, so anything that's applicable to dogs or humans I could probably make work -- likely this is something that'll end up being mentioned in conversation and not much more.