There are many possible reasons why your dog is coughing, one of them being a collapsed trachea. My little doxy, Taz has this. It sounds like she is choking and hyperventilating – like dogs sometimes do when they pull on the leash too hard. It’s quite frightening to witness. I try not to panic, but it’s scary.
Whenever this happens to Taz (usually when she’s scarfing down her food too fast!), I stand by her and gently rub her throat while I talk to her in a soothing voice. Luckily, within about a minute or two, she will catch her breath and be OK.
Why Is My Dog Coughing?
The very first thing you should do is have your dog seen by a veterinarian immediately. There are a variety of reasons why your dog may be coughing, and some of them are serious. In this article, we’ll be focusing on dogs with a collapsed trachea.
What is a Collapsed Trachea?
A collapsed trachea is a common cause of airway obstruction in dogs. The trachea, also known as the windpipe, transports air in and out of the lungs. Sometimes the trachea collapses, making it difficult for the air to flow.
A “honking” cough is the most common and recognizable symptom of a collapsed trachea. Other symptoms may include trouble breathing, not wanting to walk/run/exercise, and bluish gums. Symptoms generally are most apparent when your dog is eating, drinking, or gets excited. For Taz, eating too fast is usually when the coughing often starts.
What Are the Causes of a Collapsed Trachea?
Veterinarians are not exactly sure why collapsed trachea occurs in dogs. It’s possible it is a congenital abnormality. It can occur in both male and female dogs, and happens most often in small and toy breeds. Yorkshire terriers have the highest instances of collapsed trachea. Collapsed trachea can occur at any age, but most commonly occurs in middle-aged and senior dogs.
Veterinarians will usually suspect a collapsed trachea if the dog is coughing. But additional testing is necessary for a positive diagnosis, such as a radiograph or a fluoroscopy – both are similar to x-rays. Treatment usually consists of controlling the inflammation of the trachea and also the cough with the use of cough suppressants, antibiotics and corticosteroids. If your dog is overweight, it is also advised that you help him lose some weight.
Coughing and breathing problems associated with collapsed trachea are more severe in overweight dogs. Losing weight will result in some relief for the dog. You can read my article (video included), How to Make the Dog Lose Weight.
Treating Severe Cases of Collapsed Trachea
If your dog suffers from a severe case of collapsed trachea that compromises his quality of life, and if the condition does not respond well to other treatment methods, your vet may recommend surgery to apply prosthetic rings to the outside of the trachea to “hold it open.” My understanding is that this is similar to when a heart patient gets a “stent” to hold an artery open.
My vet recommended, when Taz first started exhibiting symptoms of a collapsed trachea, that I switch to a chest harness instead of a collar. That’s Taz on the left wearing her red harness which I purchased on Amazon. You can see a variety of dog harnesses here. Simply put, this reduces the dog’s neck being squished if he’s pulling on the leash/collar while going for walks, for example. I found this made a huge difference. A harness is way better than a collar for dogs with this condition.
Other preventative efforts include keeping your dog away from irritants such as smoke and dust, and also for the dog to maintain a healthy weight.
You Can See a Variety of Harnesses HERE
When Should I Visit the Vet?
If your dog develops a “honking” cough, you should make an appointment with your vet, especially if your dog is a small or toy breed. But don’t panic – this condition is not as scary as it may sound. With treatment, most dogs don’t experience a reduction in quality of life, or a shorter life expectancy.
I hope this article has been helpful. If you have information about collapsed trachea you’d like to share, please comment below. Thank you! Debra
I Donate to Animal Charities
Thank you for visiting my website. I donate 10% of all commissions I make on this website to animal charities. You can see a list of the charities I donate to here. If you like this website, please share it with your friends – every purchase helps animals! Debra
For More Articles About Pet Health, CLICK HERE
Disclaimer: I am not a veterinarian.