Tracheal Collapse in Dogs

What is Tracheal Collapse?


Tracheal collapse is a chronic, progressive disease which involves obstruction of airway. The trachea, windpipe, is a tube that is supported by C shaped cartilage. Occasionally, the cartilage ring weakens and begins to collapse making the dog to cough and/or hard time breathing. Tracheal Collapse is most common in small breeds and toy breeds, especially Toy Poodles over the age of five.


What are the symptoms?


Although it depends of the severity of the collapse, the dog will have a honking cough. Other symptoms include difficulty breathing, gagging while eating or drinking, and in severe cases blush tinge to the gums and tongue.


How is Tracheal Collapse Diagnosed?


X-rays can sometime detect the obvious Tracheal collapses, but not always.  Using fluoroscopy, which is a moving X-ray, allows visualization of the trachea as the dog inhales and exhales may be necessary to confirm the accurate diagnosis. Other methods include endoscopy, which allows a view of the inside of trachea with a tiny camera.

Note that any disease of the upper or lower airway can be mistaken for tracheal collapse. This includes: a foreign object in the airway, laryngeal paralysis, elongated soft palate, infection of the trachea, lungs, or heart failure.


How can Tracheal Collapse Treated?


Most cases of tracheal collapse are treated with cough suppressants, bronchodilators, corticosteroids, and/or antibiotics. It’s important to suppress the coughing, because coughing irritates the throat, which leads to more coughing. If the dog is overweight, weight loss helps to breathe easier. Although treatment doesn’t cure the disease, a study released in 1994 shows that 71 percent of dogs treated medically showed a good long-term response.

It is recommended that the dog is in a smoke free environment and free of other environmental pollutants. Dogs with a collapsing tracheal should not wear a collar, but should only wear a choke free harness. It is discourage to wear anything around their neck that might pressure the dogs’ tracheal.

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