Can Dogs Live with a Collapsed Trachea?

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Introduction

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.

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

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

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

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.
Princess
14 Years
Chihuahua
Doesn't Sound Like They are Happy
Signs

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 months, 2 weeks 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?