Tag Archives: collapsing trachea

Collapsing tracheas

Collapsing tracheas are common in small dogs like Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, Shih Tzus, Lhasa Apsos, Toy Poodles, and Yorkshire Terriers.

The trachea, also known as the windpipe, connects the throat to the lungs. The normal trachea is tubular and maintains its shape with a series of “C” shaped rings made of cartilage.

When a dog with a collapsing trachea breathes in, the cartilage rings flatten from top to the bottom. This makes it difficult for air to enter the lungs and causes a chronic, honking cough.

In affected dogs the cartilage rings lose their stiffness and cannot retain their circular shape.

Coughing is often worse in the daytime. The cough is exacerbated by excitement, drinking water, eating, or pressure on the trachea, particularly from a leash.

We suspect a collapsed trachea in a small dog with a persistent dry and/or honking cough. If light pressure over the trachea causes a cough we recommend a chest X ray to rule out other heart, lung and airway problems. These other conditions are common in small dogs and they often suffer from several of them at a time.

Endoscopy allows us to watch the inside of the trachea during inspiration and expiration for signs of collapse.

We treat a dog with collapsing trachea with drugs to open up and reduce inflammation of the airways.

Antibiotics control infections of collapsed airways, which are common.

Weight loss reduces pressure on the airways in obese dogs. A low fat diet and mild exercise helps them shed the extra kilos.

Avoid exacerbating the cough with excitement and vigorous exercise.

Because medical therapy only treats the cough and does not correct the problem, affected dogs will always have a bit of a cough. Our aim is to minimize the cough, and make them more comfortable and active.