Tracheal Collapse

Tracheal collapse is a condition commonly seen in Toy breed dogs such as Poodles, Pomeranians and Yorkshire Terriers. When it does occur, the dog makes a distinctive honking sound that is frightening. It sounds like the dog can not catch his breath.

Why does this happen?

The trachea or windpipe is a fairly rigid tube made up of rings of cartilage. These rings are not complete circles but rather like 3/4 circles with a muscle ( the tracheal membrane) joining the two ends. In dogs who have this condition, there is a defect in the cartilage. It is not as stiff as it should be so when the dog breathes the cartilage flattens making the diameter of the windpipe smaller and allowing the tracheal membrane to touch the lining of the trachea. This produces irritation and coughing. Panting and anxiety can make this worse.

Many dogs do not show symptoms until something else happens to trigger the tracheal collapse. Some factors than can cause or worsen tracheal collapse are :

-development of kennel cough
-obesity
-anesthesia ( because a tube is put in the trachea)
-cigarette smoke, dust or other environmental irritants
-allergies
-heart enlargement

If these factors are removed, many times the tracheal collapse symptoms improve.

Diagnosis of tracheal collapse is made from clinical signs and radiographs. When your dog’s chest is radiographed, your veterinarian will be able to diagnosis tracheal collapse. He or she will also evaluate the lungs and the heart at that time.

How do we treat this?

Eliminate the secondary factors–weight loss if the dog is overweight, install an air filter to filter dust and smoke, treat the heart condition.
Conventional treatment–This can include bronchodilators, prednisone,cough suppressants and antibiotics. Surgery may be used if medical management does not work.
Holistic medications–In place of conventional medications, Chinese or Western herbs can be used to treat the symptoms of tracheal collapse. One such medication is Respiratory Aid from Pet Wellbeing

Most of these dogs respond to medical therapy. If your pet suffers from it be sure to consult your veterinarian as this is a condition that should be treated for your pet’s overall health.

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