Can Dogs Live with a Collapsed Trachea?

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One of the more common causes of breathing obstruction in dogs is a collapsed trachea. Many dog owners panic if they discover that their dog’s trachea has collapsed, which is not surprising considering our four-legged friends are part of the family! 

However, although this problem may sound really serious and potentially deadly, it is actually possible for your dog to get along okay providing the right treatment is administered. As a responsible dog owner, you should familiarize yourself with the signs and symptoms in your dog so that you can ensure this treatment is administered as early on as possible.

Introduction of Can Dogs Live with a Collapsed Trachea?

Signs of Collapsed Trachea in Dogs

So, what are the signs that you should look out for when it comes to a collapsed trachea in your pooch? Well, there are a number of signs that could indicate your dog has this condition. 

One of the common ones you need to look out for is a hacking cough, - a key symptom of a collapsed trachea. However, there are also other signs that you need to keep your eyes peeled for. Naturally, your dog will have more trouble breathing because of the issue, so listen out for any breathing abnormalities. Your dog may also become disinterested in activities such as playing or going for walks.

Another of the signs you may want to check on is the color of your dog’s gums. Dogs can sometimes develop a bluish hue around the gums if they have a collapsed trachea. Increased sensitivity to things such as dust and smoke may also be noticeable in a dog with a collapsed trachea. Even being in extreme temperatures can have an effect, as it can further impact on your pooch’s breathing ability. If you notice any of these signs in your dog, you should take them to be checked by the vet so that treatment can be arranged. 

Your dog’s body language should also be monitored if you are worried that they may have a problem with their trachea. For instance, dogs that are feeling unwell in general will often tuck their tails, whine more than usual, and may start turning away from their food. 

Your dog may start spending more time in their bed or hiding away from you and the rest of the family because they often want to spend time alone when they are unwell. Some dogs may show more aggression when they are unwell but this is more to do with fear than anger. This could include growling at you and baring its teeth.

Body Language

If you are concered that your dog has a collapsed trachea, look out for:

  • Growling
  • Whining
  • Tail tucking
  • Exposed teeth

Other Signs

There are a number of additional signs that you should look out for if you are worried about whether your dog has a collapsed trachea. Watch for:

  • No appetite
  • No interest in activity
  • Hiding away
  • Subdued behavior

History of Tracheal Issues in Dogs

History of Can Dogs Live with a Collapsed Trachea?

Over the years, researchers and veterinary experts have come to realize that tracheal collapse in dogs is one of the most common causes of an obstructed airway, which in turn makes it difficult for your dog to breathe properly. What actually causes the trachea to collapse in dogs is still somewhat of a grey area despite research having been carried out over the years. Some experts believe that it is down to a congenital issue that results in the dog having a weaker trachea that is more prone to collapse.

It has also been discovered that a collapsed trachea can affect both female and male dogs. However, experts have carried out extensive research over the years and have discovered that the dogs most likely to be affected by a collapsed trachea are small breeds such as toy dogs. In addition, the collapse generally tends to occur when the dogs are middle-aged or moving into their senior years. That said, it has been known to affect younger dogs as well.

A range of treatment options have also been developed over the years for dogs with a collapsed trachea. This may include cough treatment, antibiotics, and even a dietary plan for overweight dogs in order to ease their breathing. 

Science Behind Tracheal Collapse in Canines

Science of Can Dogs Live with a Collapsed Trachea?

Many dog owners are unsure as to what causes a collapsed trachea in dogs and this is something that experts have also spent time trying to work out. Many believe that the trachea in certain dogs and breeds is weaker because of congenital issues. 

This means that the cartilage in the tracheal rings is not as strong as it should be, which means that it is more likely to collapse over time. Fortunately, research into this condition over the years has enabled experts to develop various treatments that make it possible for dogs with collapsed tracheas to lead a fulfilling life.   

What to Do if Your Pooch has a Collapsed Trachea

Training of Can Dogs Live with a Collapsed Trachea?

The first thing you need to do if you suspect your dog may have a collapsed trachea is look out for the symptoms above. Remember, a hacking cough is one of the key symptoms and could be coupled with other symptoms mentioned above. 

In addition, if you have a toy dog or small breed such as a Yorkshire Terrier, you should bear in mind that this type of a cough is almost certainly going to be the result of tracheal problems. These breeds are known for this type of issue, although it can affect other dog breeds as well. 

If you do notice any of the signs, you need to ensure you seek treatment from your vet as soon as possible. You need to remember that a collapsed trachea will be extremely unconformable for your pooch and will impact on their ability to breathe. Therefore, the earlier you get the problem diagnosed and treated, the better it will be for your dog – and the better it will be for your peace of mind. Your vet will generally carry out a test such as a fluoroscopy or a radiograph to determine whether it is a collapsed trachea. Appropriate treatment can then be administered.

You should also ensure that you fully understand the treatment that is given by the vet and you know how to continue giving your dog the necessary treatment at home. This could include the administration of medication, revising your dog’s diet, and reviewing the type and amount of exercise your dog takes. 

When it comes to their breathing, you do have to be more mindful of things such as diet and exercise. If your dog has a collapsed trachea and is overweight, the issue will have more of an effect compared to a dog that is otherwise pretty fit and healthy. 

How to React if Your Dog has a Collapsed Trachea:

  • Get your dog to a vet for a diagnosis to be made.
  • Follow the vet's advice for treatment.
  • Be on the lookout for signs of the issue in the future.
14 Years
Doesn't Sound Like They are Happy

Princess has an enlarged heart. Her heart has grown so large, it caused her trachea to collapse. Although she is on four prescriptions and I initially saw vast improvement, I noticed she begun coughing and struggling in the morning. Her vet was matter of fact as he reminded me of her health problems. I fear her time is limited and feel my heart breaking with every struggle she experiences. I ended up on this site as I was searching for answers.

3 years, 11 months ago
I, too, have a chihuahua with an enlarged heart and a collapsed trachea. She is also on medication and even with that her vet gave her only an 18 months to live with the medication. If Princess is indeed 14 years old, please treasure the time you've had with her as my little girl, Taco, will probably not make her 10th birthday. Taco also had a heart murmur which added to her issues as well. From what my vet has told me, these are common issues with our small furry friends. My heart goes out to you and Princess.
If you don’t mind me asking, what medication did your vet put Princess on? My Lab has an enlarged heart and collapsed trachea and we are in the early stages of finding how to treat this....
Researching for my 11 year old Chihuahua, Princess. She has always had a heart murmur. The past 18 months, her heart has become enlarged and is pushing on her trachea. I give her Vetmedin 1.25 chewable twice daily. I crush it up and sprinkle on top of her food and mix in chicken broth. She is coughing badly and I take her back to the vet in a couple of days. I sense her time is near. Thoughts anyone?
My 13 yr old toy poodle Lola also has an enlarged heart and collapsed trachea. Our vet put her on hydrocodone which is the 3rd medication we have tried. The first 2 did not work. The coughing gradually got worse. I'm giving her 1/2 a pill 3x per day. This seems to manage the coughing 80% of the time although it does make her tired and lethargic.
So far she is eating and seems OK but I worry and think about loosing her every day:(-
My previous pug died from Collapsed trachea. We didn’t know she had it, and was breathing very badly... we took her to the vet and they put her on steroids but it did not help at all, and she died about two days after being diagnosed.
My current Pug was diagnosed with a severe stage of collapsed trachea 10 months ago. Her trachea is collapsed in three spots. She has been doing great up until recently. She has an inhaler twice a day (fluticisone or Flovent is the brand name) and then she take liquid form of Theophylline if she is experiencing a difficult day and hydrocodone to help the cough. The inhaler alone had been working for the 10 months, as to where she didn’t need the other meds. We are VERY careful to not have any frangranes, strong perfume scents, smoke, or any other breathing inhibitors in the house. We are very careful she doesn’t get hot enough to pant (which is so hard as we live in Florida) and unfortunately she is unable to go for walks due to immediate panting. We take her for lots of car rides or to the pet store to pick out a toy. Always trying to find low key activities to keep her stimulated but not stressed or over excited. Last night we had a bad night with her heavily breathing and coughing. I’m worried her condition has progressed and we are near the end. It’s so heartbreaking and scary to know their time is near and that it could happen at any time. Current pug is 12 (we have had her a year, adopted her as a senior) and my previous Pug was about 6-8 when she passed. (Also adopted unsure of exact age)
Hi my pug is going through this and for sure the prednisone my doctor prescribed worked along with doxycycline to prevent other infections. My pug is overweight so now only 1/4 good morning then evening or pumpkin only once in a blue. Also she doesn’t get to play with the other dogs but they love to just be held and sleep so that what I do , she has not coughed since she finished prednisone . 100% worked I don’t know if there are side effects but she drinks lots of water and never has had other issues.
My daughter just bought a yorkie/poodle mix after losing her dog tragically on Easter. It has been diagnosed with collapsed trachea. She is only 11 weeks old. My daughter has two young daughters that cannot understand.
Please, all of you, take your dog to an animal cardiologist. Most vets don’t have the special training to recognize an enlarged heart on a small dog. Yorkies especially whose heart sits in the chest cavity in such a way it looks huge. Then they think it’s enlarged. My vet diagnosed my Yorkie as having heart failure and put him on drugs but a visit to the specialist told us it’s a collapsing trachea. We treat with hydrocodone but eventually may have to consider a stent. Good luck!
My dog chi hua hua had trachea collapse doc says need imidiet surgery but than the 2 surgeon busy for 1month.By than chocko wont leave seems bcs he has severe trachea collapse.The doc inform us that he will wait for the call from 1 of the private hosp for surgeon and will update about the price later. We went bk home on 3rd july 2019. 3rd july at 7.30pm recieved a call that he is not eating the pallet and soft food will be gaven on 4th. They are treating him with steroid seems. But condition still slight serious. on4th july i received a call that the cough has stopped and can bring bk home.. on 5th july 11a.m i get the most devastating news that my 7 yr old baby chocko has passed away and i cried bcs its unbelievable for me and i couldnt accept that.They suspect he died at night. So i still imagine how he suffocate n died. And i blame the doctors for his death as the doc says need surgery and suddenly kept him in an oxygen case.I cant forgive the doctor. yest did cremation for him. very sad
I have a 16 year old pug that has been struggling with a collapsing trachea for a good part of her life. She goes through a few weeks of really bad coughing and then it gets better. Manuka honey k-factor 16 plus and Torbutrol give her hours of relief. Crazy if we take a walk, she will not cough or struggle at all, actually helps. Car rides also help.
16 year old YorkiPoo, not Pug, cannot edit above.
Note that I give her only 1/2 tablet of 1 mg tablet of Torbutrol or less, helps stop coughing within 10 mins and she is not too drugged. So far years of this drug off and on and no side effects.
We inherited two Yorkies, one has a collapsing trachea & enlarged heart. Our doctor has said there is little they can do... she gave him some pills, which helped but when they ran out we decided to try holistic methods. So we gave the dog Lobelia inflata 2-3 beads 2x day then down to one a day (tobacco weed) a Borian product) along with celery seed powder 1/8 tsp, we treated him for a couple months and that worked for almost a year. He has just started the coughing again & started the same treatment, but we seem to need to be more aggressive. So I am giving him 3-4 pills 2-3 times a day & celery seed 1/8 tsp once a day ... it helps keep the cough down to a minimum. This is something I think people should research, it may help some, some it may not.
I have a 14 yr. Old Chihuahua named Bubba. Two days ago he was diagnosed with a heart murmur, an enlarged heart with fluid surrounding it and a collapsed trachea.
It did not come as a suprise as Bubba had been coughing for several months, but other than the cough he seemed perfectly normal. The vet put him on heart meds and antibiotics. And nothing for the trachea except a prescription for hydrocodone which we have not filled because the vet said wouldn't do much for him and would basically just sedate him , I wonder if the vet encouraged us not to fill the hydrocodone prescription because of the opiate epidemic in the u.s., and the fact that opiates are being strictly regulated right now or if the hydrocodone really doesn't help much, I feel bad not giving him the pills when I don't know for sure if they help the condition what is your take on the hydrocodone? Also I totally feel your pain and can relate 100% and pray for you and princess.
My chihuahua had problems all his life now it’s collasped. Had one steroid injection told nothing they can do ,I learnt to hold. His back and stroke his neck and calm him , I’ve now got him glucosamine and chrondroitin in powder form ,put it on his food strengthens joint and cartilages the trachea is a cartilage ,he manage to walk today with out getting out of breath hope this works ,good luck with your dog
My vet put Spyke (Jack Russell Pom Mix ) on coughing pills (Guaifenesin/Dextromethorphan) 1 Tablet every 5 to 8 hours. I did a Google Search and the pill is part Mucinex & part Robitussin. This was a horrible option for Spyke. At 3:30 AM 2 nights in a row, he woke up chocking and it sounded like he was going to die until I got his pill in him. The most horrible experience of my entire life. I knew of an Emergency Veterinary Hospital near me and I said I can't go another night like that again. I took him to the ER Vet and as far as I am concerned she saved his life. This is the script that they filled:5mg/5ml hydrocodone bitartrate in combination with 1.5 mg/ml homatropine methylbromide. With this wonderful medicine he is 99.5 coughs free for 12 hours. Spyke will be 16 in February. Spyke is very tired and he sleeps a lot but what dog doesn't. I found out that this specialty hospital is one of the top vet hospitals in the US. I don't want to break the rules that might exist so all I will say is that is in a northern suburb of Detroit. People come from Canada and as far away in the US as Chicago. I may never me on this site again because I found it on a Google Search. I spend a total increase of time because I want to enjoy every last minute of his life. He won't last forever so one of the employees at the Animal Hospital gave me the name of a wonderful vet that provides Euthenisa at my home and he will take Spyke when he passes. I am trying to concentrate on him being alive.
One other bit of information to help pet owners. There are some Animal Hospitals that are what they refer to in the industry as Level 1 Animal Hospitals. Just like there are certain hospitals for humans that are Level 1 Trauma Hospitals. If you don't feel like your vet is helping you with this or any other pet health issue Google "Level 1 Certified Animal Hospital" and if you're lucky there may be one in your area. As I mentioned in my post directly above people come from Canada and as far away in the US as Chicago to visit the Level 1 Hospital in the northern suburbs of Detroit. I would give you the name of the hospital but that may violate the rules of Wag. Bring your credit card because these Animal Hospitals can be very expensive depending on the procedure. The requirements to be a Level 1 Certified Animal Hospitals are extremely intense.Hopes these 2 posts help.
Hello all who's precious babies are suffering with this horrible disease. My chihuahua is 14 years old and her trachea is collapsed in several places. She is at the vets right now, after they tried a rigorous treatment of steroids and some sedation so she could breathe without struggling so much. It is not helping too much. Vet is sending us home with another med (3rd one) to try and if she is not better within 48 hours, we have to say goodbye to her. My heart is breaking. I hope all of you find peace, with time, for your heartbreak. God bless all of you and your little fur-babies, too.
Our dog is a dachshund mix we adopted so not sure of the age but we've had him 7 years. I’d say he’s got to be at least 12+. His trachea collapse has gotten so bad in the last 2-3 months that I don’t know what to do. He’s on the hydrocodone cough syrup but that seems like it’s not helping anymore. I don’t want to put him down too early, but he just seems pretty miserable with his cough. It’s a hard decision to make. I hate to see him suffer but sometimes he seems fine. I can’t beat the thought of him basically choking to death on his own. He deserves better than that. Good luck to all of you.
My pet chihuahua past away before New Years 2019. She just turned 13 years old, she was diagnosed as a young age. However she lived a good life because I fed her good food mostly organic cooked meals. As she got older recently she stop breathing as usual and I knew she was overweight but never thought she was leaving us that soon. She was diagnosed with enlarge heart along with water in her lungs due to a collapse trachea, I was devastated. I was told I could have her hospitalized or take her with medication, they didn’t guaranteed anything so we decided to take her home with medication, unfortunately the medication wasn’t working so we took her back and they out her on the oxygen tank until we made a decision of what we wanted to do. The vet told us that if she comes out of the hospital she might not make it pass the year and that we had to constantly take her to the vet for checkups, she gave us the cost of over 3000. The vet also mentioned that she may suffer thoroughly the year by not breathing properly etc so she suggested to put her down. My husband and I made the harsh decision of not making her suffer any longer and we didn’t want to our baby suffer any longer so we put her down that night. I am an animal lover and my heart is broken that I seeking therapy and I start my first session on Tuesday because I have so much guilt and couldn’t save my baby. I had a breakdown and ended up at the hospital the same night. I never wanted to let her go but the vet thank me for making the right decision. I am destroyed. I have gone through so much by losing two pets my chihuahua at 17 a year before and my baby recently 2019. Take care of your babies, prayers
My little Yorkie, Oscar, is 14 and a half years old. He has recently been diagnosed by a cardiologist with Pulmonary Hypertension and is severely struggling with a collapsed trachea too. The cardiologist said they aren't related. He is on heart medication twice a day and every 3-4 weeks we take him for a slow release, long lasting cortisone injection. When it gets really bad the vet will give him a short acting cortisone and a vitamin b injection to to boost his energy as I can't imagine how strenuous it must be on his tiny little body coughing all the time. When it is really hot I do noticed his coughing significantly increases and I usually hold an ice pack gently over his body to cool him down and also I find a little bit of honey helps, and sometimes cbd oil for dogs. Im so desperate to help him that I am trying everything and taking his to a third vet who specializes in small animals next week to get another opinion. My thoughts are with all your fury family members. It is devastating watching them in pain and sometimes you just don't know when you're selfishly holding on or it's time to let them go :(.
My pug was diagnosed with collapsed trachea in 2018. She was put on several different medications that seemed to help until she started having terrible skin reactions. I had to take her off the steroids. I found a natural remedy that has saved her life. It’s called Ask Ariel, ultra flex is the pill. I highly recommend this. We are at the two year mark and being that she is 15 she is startling to struggle again and it breaks my heart. I run a oil blend to help her breathe and try to give her honey when she is having a coughing fit. Any other information some have, I’d greatly appreciate.
Try stanazolol. Go to the collapsing trachea site on FB and you will find someone that posts telling how it has helped most of her rescue pugs. Also google it they have some studies that helped dogs. Your vet can prescribe. Need twice a day not once. Lisa Weber Smith on FB can tell you more.
I have a 17 year old toy pooldle, who was diagnosed with collapsed trachea since a pup. The coughing was getting so bad when he turned 15 and was on and off prednisone and hydrocodone, which only helped some. Was desperate, since already noticed side effects with the prednisone, so started to give him tumeric powder due its anti-inflammatory properties, and I too was taking myself. Noticed that he was fine for 3 days adn then cough woudl come back as soon i stopped giving him tumeric. So I started giving him daily doses and is 90% cough free for the past 9 months! BOth he and my family can sleep soundly at nights now (prio to that he would cough thorugh the whole night for months at a time). Initially was giving plain tumeric powder, but for convenience give him the same one I'm using - Puritans Pride Curcumin with Black Pepper.. Open the capsule and sprinkle a little on his food each day. A whole capsule usually lasts 5 days.
We have used glucosamine/chondroitin for dogs. We started on a lower does than recommended and the difference has been amazing. You do not need a vet's script to get it. Pet shops often have it. 2 days after giving him his first does the coughing stopped. He developed an allergy to the chondroitin so we reduced the dose and all has been well. He still coughs once in a while but nothing like he did.