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Collapsed Trachea in Dogs

Updated on April 23, 2016

Small Dogs are Predisposed to Collapsed Trachea

Source

X-Ray of Collapsed Trachea in Yorkshire Terrier

The white arrows indicate the normal-sized  trachea, whereas, black arrows mark the collapsed trachea.
The white arrows indicate the normal-sized trachea, whereas, black arrows mark the collapsed trachea. | Source

What is Collapsed Trachea?

As a dog trainer, I am well aware of collapsed trachea, and I know I can play a role in helping dog owners prevent it by recommending the right training tools. But what exactly is collapsed trachea and why do the wrong training tools play such an important role in its development? Obviously, this article is not meant to replace the advice of a veterinarian, if your dog has symptoms of tracheal collapse, please consult with your veterinarian.

The trachea is basically the dog's windpipe, a quite rigid tube made of muscles and cartilage rings meant to connect the dog's mouth to the lungs. It is located in the dog's throat but also extends to the dog's chest. Its main function is to transport air to the lungs and protect the airway. As much as the dog's trachea is fairly rigid, it may however weaken overtime causing it to collapse.


Symptoms

When the trachea collapses, the air has difficulty passing through causing the typical honking cough to take place. This honking cough should not be confused with "bordetella" also known as kennel cough. To see a dog with kennel cough see video in the article about. "kennel cough". Collapsed trachea cough is often triggered by excitement, exercise, eating and drinking, and irritants. Second-hand smoking has proven harmful to dogs in many ways, and it may aggravate coughing in dogs affected by collapsed trachea. More about this can be read in: 'Can Dogs Get Sick by Passive Smoking?"

A collapsed trachea however, may cause more than just coughing. Trouble breathing, panting, exercise intolerance, bluish gums are all worrisome signs that may also develop.

Causes of Collapsed Trachea in Dogs

The most common candidate for this condition is a toy breed dog. Poodles, Yorkshire terriers, and Pomeranians are breeds commonly affected. The predisposition for tracheal collapse appears to be hereditary. Other potential predisposing/aggravating factors may be the following:

  • Obesity
  • The use of an endotracheal tube during anesthesia
  • Exposure to irritants
  • Respiratory infections
  • An enlarged heart that presses against the trachea
  • Being a middle- age dog (6-7 years old, but may affect dogs of any age)
  • The use of collars

Treatment

Once x-rays confirm tracheal collapse, dogs are treated with the use of medications such as cough suppressants, airway dilators, corticosteroids to reduce inflammation and antibiotics. Obese dogs may need to be put on a weight-loss program. The use of a harness versus a collar may help considerably. While medications will not completely cure a dog from a collapsed trachea, according to Veterinary Partner 71% of dogs responded to medication treatment and medical management with a good long-term response, while 16% required surgery.

Surgery encompasses the use of a rigid prosthesis which is bonded around the collapsed trachea in such as way as to effectively create a non-collapsible tube.

While a collapsed trachea is a chronic and potentially progressive condition, it rarely causes a significant reduction in quality of life. It helps to try to keep the dog calm. A good product to calm dogs down is an anti-anxiety mixture known as "Composure Liquid from Vetri Science" or "Rescue Remedy".

Disclaimer: this article is not meant to replace the advice of a veterinarian, if your dog has symptoms of tracheal collapse, please consult with your veterinarian.

Dog Coughing from Collapsed Trachea

© 2012 Adrienne Janet Farricelli

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    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 5 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      this is a very useful and interesting hub.

      our sweet dogs are like humans they can have problems too.

      thanks for writing this

      voted up

      Debbie

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

      I was glad to read this information because my 14-year-old Maltese "grand-doggy" has an enlarged heart that is now pressing somewhat on her trachea. In fact, she has a lot of health problems for which she's on many medications, and my daughter is very worried about her--dreading what may happen. It's good to know there are some treatments.

      Thanks for an excellent informational hub.

      Jaye

    • alexadry profile image
      Author

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 4 years ago from USA

      Thank you for sharing your comments. I hope they find a treatment for her so to make her more comfortable, best wishes!

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