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Tracheal Collapse in Dogs: Diagnosis, Stages & Treatment

Ever wondered why certain pooches have perpetual sniffles?

Keyana Beamon - Writer for DailyTails
By Keyana Beamon
a woman with dreadlocks holding a remote control
Edited by Lucia Gcingca

Updated December 22, 2023.

A Pomeranian struggling with tracheal collapse.

While a bit adorable, a dog's coughs and wheezes can spark a whirlwind of concerns for any dog owner.

Beyond the annoyance, the thought of hidden health issues can leave you yearning for answers and relief for your precious pup. Let's explore the worries that bubble beneath the surface when your dog's sniffles just won't quit.

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What is Tracheal Collapse in Dogs?

Think of the trachea as a highway for air, leading straight to your pup's lungs. When it collapses, the surrounding cartilage rings weaken and flatten, causing traffic jams during every breath.

While these rings only cover about 83% of the trachea, a flexible membrane fills the rest. And here's the surprising part: nearly 1 in 5 smaller breeds face this issue.

A diagram of tracheal collapse in dogs.

Signs of Tracheal Collapse in Dogs

Listen to your pup's coughs. A honking goose sound could signal a tracheal collapse. They might become more common as it worsens, causing your dog to tire faster during walks.

Watch especially if the coughing gets bad at night or when your pup eats. If breathing becomes difficult, with gagging or hurling, it's time to see the vet immediately. Early action can help your furry friend breathe easily.

Tracheal Collapse and Hypothyroidism

While a low thyroid —hypothyroidism—doesn't usually cause a collapsed trachea, if your dog suddenly packs on the pounds, it's wise to get their thyroid checked. Why? Extra weight can strain their breathing and worsen things.

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Diagnosing Tracheal Collapse in Dogs

To check if your pup has a collapsed trachea, the vet will first give them a gentle examination, feeling their windpipe to see if it triggers a cough.

They might use special tools like X-rays or a tiny camera for a clearer picture, though your dog would be asleep for those. These tests help you understand how bad the situation is.

Stages of Tracheal Collapse in Dogs

Think of tracheal collapse as a scale for how bad your dog's cough might be. It starts with a bit of honk you can barely notice and worsens with more frequent and scary coughs. This problem usually picks on older pups the most, like an unwelcome souvenir from all those years of tail wags and zoomies.

Pro Tip: The earlier you spot that honking cough, the faster you can help your pup breathe. Catching it at the right time makes all the difference.

A diagram of tracheal collapse stages in dogs.

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Treatment for Tracheal Collapse in Dogs

The most common way to help pups with a collapsed trachea is with special medicine. Think cough syrup, breathing helpers, and things to calm inflammation.

If it's really bad, the vet might suggest minor surgery to put in a kind of brace called a stent in the windpipe to keep it open. Don't worry; these treatments can make a big difference and get your furry friend back to feeling their best.

Additional Measures:

  • Harness Over Collar: Use a harness during walks to ease pressure around the neck, providing comfort and minimizing strain.
  • Weight Watch: Maintain your furry friend at a healthy weight. Excess pounds can strain the trachea, hindering breathing.
  • Avoid Excitement Triggers: Avoid activities that overly excite your dog, preventing irritation to the trachea.
  • Anti-Anxiety Consult: If your pup gets overly worked up, consult your vet about potential anti-anxiety medications for a more serene experience.

Natural Remedies

Some people resolve their pup's cough naturally with acupuncture. Research suggests it can improve their exercise tolerance and quality of life. You can also try Chinese herbs or special plant supplements with elecampane, yarrow, and horsetail.

Always talk to a vet first. They can find what might work best. And remember, keeping your furry friend calm and relaxed helps too. After all, their happiness and well-being matter the most.

Is tracheal collapse in dogs fatal?

Tracheal collapse can become life-threatening, so getting your dog checked out is vital if you suspect they are showing any symptoms.

Tracheal Collapse and Pet Insurance

Pet insurance can cover diagnosis costs and tracheal collapse treatment for your dog. It takes a big bite out of those vet bills, leaving you and your furry friend feeling paw-sitive.

If you want to pick the perfect plan for your pup, head to Daily Tails for e expert advice on choosing the right pet insurance. With the right coverage, your dog with a collapsing trachea can live a healthy life.

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Bow Wowing Out

Knowing everything you can about your pup's honking cough and how to treat it makes a huge difference in their well-being. Team up with your vet to choose the best options to keep your furry friend happy and healthy for years.

While it can seem scary, remember that pet parents like you are the real heroes. Learning about tracheal collapse ensures your dog's life stays full of zoomies and tail wags.