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Collapsing Trachea in Dogs

Photo of a Chihuahua dog running in a grass field and panting, to illustrate the signs of collapsing trachea in dogs

Coughing and shortness of breath are some of the uncomfortable symptoms related to collapsing trachea in dogs. If you have a pup showing these signs, we can help you better understand this condition and ways to provide the best care for your little one. Smaller dogs are more genetically prone to collapsed trachea. Still, any pet can suffer from this condition, so let’s discuss the clinical signs, diagnostic tests, treatment options, and natural supplements so you know how to support your little one.

What is Collapsing Trachea in Dogs?

The trachea is the windpipe that allows air to pass in and out of your little one’s lungs. Collapsing trachea is a condition where the cartilage rings of the trachea, which normally provide structural support, weaken or collapse. With that, when the trachea collapses, it can lead to breathing difficulties and discomfort for our canine companions. 

What Causes Collapsing Trachea in Dogs?

There is not a single cause for collapsing trachea in dogs. However, it is believed to be a combination of genetic predisposition and environmental factors. Smaller breeds, such as Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, and Yorkshire Terriers, are more prone to this condition. Other contributing factors may include obesity, respiratory infections, allergies, or irritants.

What are the Clinical Signs of Tracheal Collapse?

The clinical signs of tracheal collapse can vary but commonly include:

  • Honking or harsh coughing, especially during excitement or physical activity.
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath.
  • Wheezing or raspy breathing sounds.
  • Gagging or retching, particularly after eating or drinking.
  • Exercise intolerance and fatigue.
  • Bluish tint to the gums or tongue in severe cases.

If you notice any of these signs in your dog, it’s essential to consult with your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

What are the Diagnostic Tests?

To diagnose tracheal collapse, your veterinarian may perform several diagnostic tests, including:

  • Physical examination: Palpation of the trachea and listening to the breathing sounds.
  • Radiographs (X-rays): These can help visualize the collapsed trachea or rule out other underlying causes.
  • Tracheal endoscopy: A thin, flexible tube with a camera is inserted into the trachea to directly visualize the collapse and assess its severity.

These tests will aid in confirming the diagnosis and determining the appropriate treatment approach.

What are the Treatment Options for Collapsing Trachea in Dogs?

Photo of a pomeranian dog panting, to illustrate the breathing difficulties caused by collapsing trachea in dogs

The treatment options for collapsing trachea depend on the severity of the condition. Mild cases may be managed with lifestyle modifications, medication, and supplements to control symptoms, with cough suppressants or bronchodilators properties. More severe cases may require surgical intervention, such as tracheal stenting or surgical reconstruction of the trachea. Your veterinarian will guide you in selecting the most suitable treatment plan for your dog’s specific situation.

How Can I Take Care of a Dog with Tracheal Collapse?

Taking care of a dog with tracheal collapse involves several essential steps:

  • Maintain a healthy weight: Obesity can exacerbate breathing difficulties, so ensure your dog maintains a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise.
  • Use a harness instead of a collar: Collars can put pressure on the trachea, worsening the condition. Opt for a harness to avoid additional strain on the trachea during walks or when restraining your dog.
  • Manage environmental triggers: Avoid exposure to irritants, such as smoke, dust, or strong chemical odors, as these can aggravate respiratory symptoms.
  • Provide a calm and stress-free environment: Stress and excitement can trigger coughing episodes. Create a calm atmosphere to help minimize these triggers.