Collapsing Trachea in Dogs: Symptoms and Diagnosis

What is It?

The space between the throat and lugs is called the trachea. This condition is caused when the cartilage rings that make up the trachea break down. It is difficult for air to pass through a collapsed trachea.

What Causes It?

Causes are unknown.

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What Are The Symptoms?

A harsh cough is the most common, additionally wheezing, difficulty breathing, coughing when you pick up your dog, gagging or vomiting associated with the cough, cyanotic – turning blue episodes.

Is it Life Threatening?

The prognosis depends on the level of collapse. This is a degenerative disease and even with treatment the issue can continue to persist and worsen. Typically, once a diagnosis is given life expectancy is between 2-4 years. With treatment, you can optimistically expect more than 4 years.

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How is It Diagnosed?

A veterinarian will place light pressure on your dog’s neck over the trachea during a cough. An x-ray, an endoscope, or another imaging source will be used to confirm a diagnosis.

What Are The Treatments?

Treatment depends on severity of the collapse. Most cases are treated with medication including cough suppressants, anti-inflammatories, bronchodilators, sedatives, and antibiotics.

  • Cough suppressants help control the coughing, which worsen the inflammation with every occurrence.
  • Anti-inflammatories can reduce swelling in the trachea, opening the airway.
  • Bronchodilators widen the lungs and reduce pressure on the trachea.
  • Sedatives help when your dog has experienced a high stress situation that is aggravating the condition.
  • Antibiotics will help tackle any secondary infections.

Other lifestyle changes will be recommended and can greatly improve your dog’s prognosis. Obesity exacerbates all health issues. Losing weight, stay away from excessive heat and humidity, staying away from tobacco smoke, and stress inducing situations will all help your dog to breathe easier.


Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pup’s condition, please make an appointment with your veterinarian. Or, consult a virtual vet here.

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