First Walk is on Us!

✓ GPS tracked walks
✓ Activity reports
✓ On-demand walkers
Book FREE Walk

Jump to Section

What is Tracheal Wash?

A tracheal wash is a procedure that involves inserting a sterile, flexible tube down the patient’s mouth and upper airways. A second tube is passed through the primary tube and down into the lung’s airways, where a small portion of saline solution will be admitted. The saline solution will mix with microscopic material found in the trachea and so, when the fluid is aspirated with a syringe, any infectious material will be brought up with the administered fluids. The samples are submitted for microscopic pathological review in a laboratory setting where a laboratory technician will be able find the presence of mycoplasma, fungi or bacteria. In order to perform the tracheal wash procedure, the canine will be required to undergo a brief period of anesthesia. The procedure may pose a risk for those with known respiratory conditions. Canine tracheal wash procedures are commonly performed in clinic by a licensed veterinarian. 

Book First Walk Free!

Tracheal Wash Procedure in Dogs

The veterinarian will first perform a routine diagnostic examination of the canine. Routine testing will include a physical exam, blood work, a urinalysis and possibly a fecal examination. Radiographs of the chest will likely be taken prior to the tracheal wash procedure. If the canine is suffering from respiratory distress and is not receiving enough oxygen, oxygen will be provided. 

Inducing Anesthesia 

  1. The patient will be anesthetized using an IV (intravenous) sedative, which will allow the canine to continue intubation. 
  2. The technician will be wearing sterile gloves to intubate the patient using a sterile endotracheal tube and avoid contamination of the oropharyngeal.
  3. The endotracheal tube will be secured and the cuff of the endoscope will be inflated. Oxygen will be checked and connected.  

Performing the Tracheal Wash 

  1. Oxygen therapy will be discontinued and the patient will be disconnected from the breathing circuit. 
  2. A flexible, rubber catheter will be passed through the endotracheal tube. 
  3. Saline will be infused through said catheter in small aliquots, then aspirated in order to collect the sample. The dog may be rotated or coupaged (an alternate movement, creating force upon the pet’s sides) in order loosen respiratory secretions and increase yield.  
  4. The wash sample will be placed in a culturette, in a sample tube, or be saved for cytology slides. 

After the sample has been successfully collected, the canine will be connected to oxygen therapy once again and allowed to recover in the hospital’s designated patient recovery area. 

Efficacy of Tracheal Wash in Dogs

A tracheal wash is a highly effective procedure for collecting samples for microscopic review. Improper collection technique or an insufficient amount of admitted saline solution can result than a less than perfect outcome.

Tracheal Wash Recovery in Dogs

After the tracheal wash procedure is complete, the dog will be connected to oxygen therapy if needed and allowed to wake up from the anesthetic in a recovery room. The patient may cough in response to having fluid introduced into the lungs and his/her throat may be irritated from the endotracheal tubes. Slight irritation is to be expected and will resolve on its own within a few minutes to an hour. 

Cost of Tracheal Wash in Dogs

The cost to have a tracheal wash procedure performed will include routine diagnostic tests including blood work, a urinalysis and x-rays. The use of an anesthetic and oxygen therapy should also be included into the total price, plus the examination of the collected sample. Dog owners should expect to pay roughly $250 with or without drug prescriptions included. 

Dog Tracheal Wash Considerations

The tracheal wash procedure does require the patient to undergo a brief period of anesthesia and may pose a risk for those with known respiratory conditions. Brachycephalic dogs and canines with asthma or other respiratory health conditions may need special care during the procedure. 

Tracheal Wash Prevention in Dogs

Bacteria and fungus enter the lungs when the dog breathes in, which makes prevention difficult in some circumstances. Keeping the dog’s living area sanitary and limiting contact with stray or unknown dogs will aid in the prevention of a needed tracheal wash procedure. 

Tracheal Wash Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

French Bulldog
Critical condition
0 found helpful
Critical condition

Hello looking for some help, I have a dog that has pneumonia and she’s been at Taylor vet hospital for 3 days she went in at only 15% lung infection getting close to 50% now she just went thru have puppy week ago looking for advice of what to ask or how to help our girl along we are at a loss and hard to get real good answer. We were told she has become anemic since she had her puppies. Is this something you guys at your vet have good success with or lots of knowledge. Any help would be greatly appreciated. I’ve seen the tracheal wash the vet she is at saying she maybe to weak to do this procedure when should I just say do it cause we won’t have any other choice? Trying to
Look for adivce please
Thank you! Please email me [email protected]
Or call 2095794428

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2157 Recommendations
There are a few different things we can look at here but most importantly if an infection isn’t responding to antibiotics then a culture and sensitivity test should be done to isolate the pathogen and to find which antibiotics it is most susceptible to. This may involve a tracheal wash or other procedure to catch a sample for culturing, but if Ruby isn’t stable enough there aren’t options left; repeated treatment with antibiotics is in vain if the bacteria are resistant to the ones being used. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Add a comment to Ruby's experience

Was this experience helpful?

7 Years
Serious condition
-1 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

trouble breathing, loss of appetite.

Medication Used

was perscribed numerous cancer drugs

Would or should an endotracheal wash be performed on a canine (200 pound Rottweiler) that presents with difficulty breathing, constant panting/inability to catch his breath, with lung x-rays showing opacity, to prove/disprove spread of cancer - possible (Hystiocytic Sarcoma) currently showing skin lesions, spreading to lungs?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2157 Recommendations

A tracheal wash (or other similar tests) may not detect cells or pick up cancerous cells; the procedure itself may sound scary since fluid is introduced to the lungs, but it is generally a safe procedure. Normally, histiocytic sarcoma is diagnosed by taking a fine needle aspirate or biopsy of a lesion for histopathology; also chest x-rays, blood tests and bone marrow examination are part of the diagnostic process. Due to the nature of histiocytic sarcoma, it may be worth speaking with an Oncologist. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

My puppy is not reposing to the antibiotics..and was told to do a tracheal wash..the vet say they won’t know till the morning."if he’ll make it..really how safe is there a risk involve

Add a comment to Winston's experience

Was this experience helpful?