None of us like when our pets aren't feeling well, so it's important to have an understanding of the kinds of problems and illnesses that can occur for them, as well as how to address those issues!
Illnesses and injuries aren't fun, but the more knowledge you have, the easier it will be to get your pet the help they need.
A tracheal collapse is an issue that can happen in any dog, but there are some smaller breeds that can be more susceptible. Let's take a look into what this issue is, how it occurs and what you can do about it to help your canine companion feel better!
A collapsed trachea is often the root of airway obstructions in dogs. It's a condition that includes the progressive destruction of the trachea, typically leading to frequent coughing in dogs as well as problems with breathing.
In short, rings of cartilage make up the trachea. They typically exist in the shape of the letter “C”, where cartilage makes up most of the shape, while a smaller amount includes a thin tissue of membrane.
If either of the substances that make up the trachea loses strength, the entire system can begin to flatten. As you can imagine, breathing through a flattened windpipe can become quite difficult.
Most of the time, tracheal collapse in dogs is thought of as a genetic condition, as it is more likely to occur in certain breeds. However, it can also just be due to wear and tear on the windpipe building up until the area has weakened. Over time, this results in a collapse of the rings of cartilage in the trachea.
There are some dogs that can be more likely to suffer from a collapsed trachea than others. Although any dog can experience this issue, a collapsed trachea in small dogs can be a problem that is more likely than with larger dogs.
Susceptible breeds for Tracheal collapse may include:
Because breeds like these are more likely to suffer from the issue, it can be thought that there is a genetic variable behind the problem. This is worth keeping in mind if you have one of these breeds, or are interested in adopting a dog that fits into any of them.
It's also worth keeping in mind that this is a situaton that can happen in dogs of all ages, but those who are middle-aged or elderly are more prone to it. From about 5 years of age, dogs can become increasingly more likely to suffer from with issue.
The most obvious signs of collapsed trachea in dogs include coughing. If you notice that your dog suddenly experiencing a bout of coughing that is dry, or sounds like the honk of a goose, there's a good chance your dog is suffering from a collapsed trachea.
You may also notice the cough getting worse in these situations:
- When your dog is excited
- In weather that is humid or hot
- When in the presence of smoke or dust
- At night
- When there is pressure on the neck
- Right after consuming water or food
In some cases, the intense cough can also be combined with gums that have a little bit of blue coloring. Furthermore, the dog may have a harder time with exercise, resulting in distress due to the inability to breathe enough. If the issues continue without treatment, it can also result in secondary heart disease. This is because of the wear and tear that can result from the dog struggling to breathe correctly. As a result, it's a good idea to make sure that you get your dog checked out as soon as you notice a honking cough or any difficulty with breathing.
If you notice that your dog is having trouble breathing, or coughing in a way that sounds like a honk, make sure to get them to the vet as soon as possible. They will be able to conduct some tests and discover the source of the problem, allowing them to then find solutions for it.
The following are some tests your vet might conduct:
When the vet takes an x-ray of the area, a collapsing trachea will show up as a tracheal opening that has become more narrow. All this takes is a standard X-Ray, which can be taken rather quickly.
In some cases, the vet may only have to touch your dog's neck to get an idea of the source of the problem. By putting a slight amount of pressure on their trachea, the vet can see if your dog begins to cough or have difficulty breathing. If they do, further tests will be done.
In this test, the vet uses a tiny camera to check out the airways in your dog's throat. This can be a very accurate way to gather the information needed to make a tracheal collapse diagnosis. With an endoscopy, vets can also take biopsy samples for further analysis.
Unlike a standard x-ray, this is an x-ray that watches the dog's trachea as they breathe. This can be a great way to figure out why they are having difficulty with breathing.
This test is one that your vet can use to check on your dog's heart function. When they've been experiencing difficulty breathing for a while, it can start to affect the heart so it's a good idea to check and make sure everything is in good condition, without secondary problems.
Getting an accurate diagnosis is extremely important when dealing with a collapsed trachea in a dog. There are a variety of other illnesses and conditions that can display some of the same symptoms, so the vet needs to be able to find the correct clinical signs and cause to address it thoroughly.
Once your vet has determined that your dog is suffering from a collapsed trachea, they'll get to work on deciding how to treat a tracheal collapse in your dog.
While you're following the plan your vet creates, there are some rules that are key in aiding your pet in recovery.
One of these rules includes avoiding placing pressure on the windpipe. That means trading in any collars for harnesses, especially while you're walking your dog. This is much safer and keeps the pressure away from their neck, allowing it to heal more efficiently.
In addition, it's a good idea to consider the environment your dog is in. For the best possible healing, they need to avoid irritants as much as possible, like smoke and other substances that might irritate their windpipe or lungs. This irritation can result in further complications, making it harder for your pet to heal and give them a high quality of life.
If you have a dog that is overweight, it's also worthwhile to consider a diet plan for your dog to gradually bring down their weight. The extra weight they are carrying can result in more pressure on the windpipe and other respiratory organs, which makes healing more difficult.
With all of these things in check, your dog will have an easier time in the recovery process. In addition to the above tips, your vet will guide you through the entire process for treatment for collapsed trachea in dogs, with specific regard for your dog's case.
When your dog has just a mild case of tracheal collapse, often the treatment is based on trying to stop the coughing so that the trachea can heal properly without irritation. Coughing has a tendency to lead to more coughing, which just makes the overall situation worse.
Consequently, the vet may prescribe these kinds of medications:
- Cough suppressants
On top of these, your vet may also prescribe some medications to help with keeping your dog calm, that way they can avoid irritation due to anxiety or excitement.
When the situation has become serious, your dog may need surgery for their tracheal collapse. In some cases, the vet may need to assist in supporting the trachea by inserting plastic rings into the area. This typically happens when the problem lies within the thoracic inlet.
If the problem is in the chest, then a stent inside may be required to keep the trachea open and allow for easier breathing. Often, the surgery needed for these kinds of issues can be rather serious, and may leave your dog with some serious complications.
If your dog is in need of surgery, it's very important to make sure you find a highly capable surgeon to do the job. Before you have to actually experience the issue, you may also want to make yourself familiar with the dog collapsed trachea surgery cost.
Furthermore, dogs with tracheal collapse will also receive medication to help them with healing, which will be provided and explained by the vet.
It's also going to be likely that your pet will need some treatment at home. If the situation isn't serious, then a holistic vet may provide you with information on some methods you can use to help your dog to heal in a more natural way.
This might include some additions to their diet that are made to strengthen their cartilage, such as:
Acupuncture can also be a method used for decreasing issues with coughing. Keep in mind that there can be many aspects to treating a collapsing trachea in dogs, so it will be up to your vet to determine what to do in each unique case.
While home methods may work in milder cases, severe cases of dogs with a collapsed trachea can't benefit from home treatment alone, so make sure they see a vet for complete treatment.
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CBD is geared towards reducing inflammation all around the body, which means that pain is decreased and the symptoms of conditions and illnesses are lessened. Furthermore, it offers a mild calming effect that can help anxious dogs to feel more at ease. For dogs that are already healthy, it's able to help keep them feeling great!
CBD oil is great for those who want to have the most possible control over the dosage their pets get. Each container comes with a dropped that allows you to decide just how many drops to provide. This is especially great if you have smaller dogs or cats who only require very small doses. CBD oil for dogs also comes with a flavor that is pretty neutral, so if you have a pet that is extremely picky, this can be an easier option as you can easily mix it into their food. Due to the liquid form, it's also easy to just place a couple of drops into the mouth of your pet.
A collapsed trachea can be a worrisome condition, and none of us enjoy the suffering of our furry family members. Naturally, the ability to breathe is extremely important for all living beings, so it's worthwhile to know how to handle this situation!
While it can be frustrating to know that it's unlikely you'll be able to prevent it or notice any symptoms prior to the actual collapse beginning to occur. However, there are a few ways in which you can help to keep the issue from becoming more serious!
Things like maintaining a home with as few irritants as possible, as well as being aware of what collapsed trachea symptoms look like. Once you notice these symptoms, getting your pet to the vet as quickly as possible can help to avoid a situation in which they may need surgery.
Armed with this knowledge, you can do everything possible to keep your pet happy and healthy!
Dr. Ivana Vukasinovic
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, University of Belgrade
Ivana Vukasinovic grew up in Serbia and attended the University of Belgrade where she received a degree in Veterinary medicine in 2012 and later completed surgical residency working mostly with livestock. Her first year of practice was split between busy small animal practice and emergency clinic, and after two more years of treating many different species of animals, she opened her own veterinary pharmacy where an interest in canine and feline nutrition emerged with an accent on fighting animal obesity. In her free time, she acts as a foster parent for stray animals before their adoption, likes to read SF books and making salted caramel cookies.
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The Innovet Team
Please do not ask for emergency or specific medical questions about your pets in the comments. Innovet Pet Products is unable to provide you with specific medical advice or counseling. A detailed physical exam, patient history, and an established veterinarian are required to provide specific medical advice. If you are worried that your pet requires emergency attention or if you have specific medical questions related to your pet’s current or chronic health conditions, please contact or visit your local/preferred veterinarian, an animal-specific poison control hotline, or your local emergency veterinary care center.
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