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Q: collapsing trachea in a small dog ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   2 Comments )
Subject: collapsing trachea in a small dog
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: beebee35-ga
List Price: $15.00
Posted: 25 Apr 2004 11:24 PDT
Expires: 25 May 2004 11:24 PDT
Question ID: 335956
I'm asking about the progression and prognosis of collapsing trachea
in a small dog.  She has a cough that is getting worse, goes on for up
to 15 min. frequently thru-out the day.  My vet has been vague about
it, "it's hard on the heart," is all.  (I'm not a smoker, by the way).
She's 14 yrs. old.  Otherwise healthy, no weight loss, good appetite,
just slowing down.
Pills given me for her don't work anymore.  Will I need to consider
putting her down so she won't suffer?
Subject: Re: collapsing trachea in a small dog
Answered By: tlspiegel-ga on 25 Apr 2004 12:43 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi beebee35,

I'm aware of your other question regarding the problem of a collapsing
trachea in your small dog.  Please note the disclaimer at the bottom
of this page:

"Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers
are general information, and are not intended to substitute for
informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal,
investment, accounting, or other professional advice."

Always consult your veterinarian for advice and counsel on what to do,
and when to do it.  You stated your vet is 'vague about it' - perhaps
you'd consider another veterinarian's opinion and advice?

Because of your dear dog's age, surgery is most likely not an option. 
At some time you might have to consider her quality of life.  Right
now you say she's healthy, with no weight loss, and still has a good
appetite.  Just slowing down, is an indication of her age... older
dogs do that naturally.

The prognosis varies with the stage of the disease and it is
impossible to predict the rate of progression for any individual

I've provided three links at the end of my answer regarding that
terrible gut-wrenching decision, on when should you put your dog down.
 Hopefully, some of the information and testimonials will give you
some insight on that subject.

Tracheal Collapse, Canine
Clinical Name: Tracheal collapse, obstructive upper airway disease


"Small breed dogs are particularly susceptible to a condition called
tracheal collapse. The tracheal rings, which are made of cartilage,
can become weak and fail to keep the trachea open during breathing.
When the trachea collapses, air is no longer able to move through the
respiratory tract. Depending upon the stage of respiration in which
the collapse occurs, air may become trapped within the lungs or
blocked from entering them.

A collapse is more likely to occur when the animal is moving air
within the airways at a faster rate than normal, or if there is added
pressure around the outside of the trachea. Excitement, exercise,
obesity, and allergies are factors that may incite tracheal collapse.

Treatment options vary according to the severity of the condition.
Some dogs may require stabilization with medications while others may
need surgery. Attempts to decrease risk factors, such as placing an
obese canine on a diet, can be beneficial in preventing or minimizing
the effects of tracheal collapse.

Clinical Signs and Symptoms

Some dogs with tracheal collapse will have an intermittent, dry "goose
honk" cough. Dyspnea, or difficulty breathing, will be noted in most
animals with this disease. Retching or gagging can occur in dogs that
are trying to clear secretions from their throat. Clinical signs
typically worsen when the animal is excited, drinks water quickly, or
becomes overheated. In severe cases, the animal may appear cyanotic,
having a bluish tinge to the mucous membranes. Some dogs will faint,
or experience syncope, due to a lack of oxygen supply to the brain,
which occurs when the dog is overexerted or anxious.


Several techniques are used to diagnose tracheal collapse. During a
physical exam, the veterinarian will assess whether the trachea is
sensitive to palpation, which, in cases of collapse, also may induce
coughing. Additionally, a thorough oral exam under anesthesia commonly
is performed. Both inspiratory and expiratory x-rays are taken of the
chest and the cervical trachea, or the part of the trachea within the
neck, in order to define the area that is affected. Often, the dog?s
general health will be screened using blood and urine tests.

Because there are other disorders that obstruct the upper airways, the
veterinarian may need to rule out these diseases before making a
diagnosis of tracheal collapse. However, more advanced diagnostic
procedures such as bronchoscopy, blood gas analysis, and fluoroscopy
require referral to a veterinary internist or teaching hospital.
Fluoroscopy is a real time x-ray that demonstrates the movement of the
trachea as the dog is breathing."



"Severely affected dogs require hospitalization for cage rest,
medication administration, and oxygen supplementation. Once the animal
is stable, it can be sent home with drugs that can help alleviate the
symptoms of tracheal collapse.

Common treatments include medications that suppress excessive
coughing, open up the airways, reduce inflammation, fight off
infection, and eliminate overabundant airway secretions. Obese dogs
should be placed on an appropriate weight-reduction diet. Until the
dog is stable, exercise should be very limited; afterwards, light
activity can be resumed.

For those animals that fail to respond to medical treatment, there are
surgical techniques that provide structural support for the trachea.
It is possible to construct a prosthesis that wraps around the
exterior of the trachea and holds the trachea open when it is sutured
in place. Possible complications of this procedure include infection
and necrosis (or death) of the trachea, which can lead to serious
consequences. Consequently, an experienced veterinary surgeon should
perform this highly specialized surgery.


The prognosis for dogs with tracheal collapse depends on the severity
of the disease and their response to treatment.


Owners should do their best to prevent risk factors such as obesity,
allergens, excessive temperatures or humidity, overexertion, and
respiratory infections. A harness, instead of a collar, is recommended
for walking dogs susceptible to tracheal collapse so that pressure is
not applied to the neck."

Q. My Pomeranian is being treated for collapsing trachea. What does
this disease involve?

A. Collapsing trachea is a disease seen primarily in small breeds such
as Yorkshire terriers, Pomeranians and toy poodles. Heredity is a
suspected cause and the disease usually occurs in older pets.

"The trachea, or windpipe, is constructed of numerous individual
rings, which extend from the back of the mouth to the middle of the
chest. In affected pets, several rings become weak over time. The net
result is a narrowed airway, which makes it difficult for the pet to

Owners often describe a honking or raspy cough, which in the early
stages resolves after a few minutes of rest. As the disease
progresses, the patients become more stressed with each attack, which
causes the trachea to collapse even more.

If your pet shows signs of difficulty breathing or severe coughing,
take it to your veterinarian immediately. Chest radiographs are
usually necessary to make an accurate diagnosis and to estimate the
location and number of rings involved. Emergency treatment is aimed at
relaxing the patient and enriching the oxygen environment around the
pet. This is accomplished by injectable sedatives, such as Valium, and
placing the animal in an oxygen chamber or on intranasal oxygen.
Treatment may take a few hours to overnight care at an emergency
center, depending on the severity of signs.

Follow-up therapy usually includes cough suppressants and
bronchodilators. These pets should be kept in air conditioning on hot,
humid days. The most important point of therapy is to avoid stressful
activity once your pet is diagnosed with this disease. In severe
cases, the veterinarian can prescribe Valium gel, which can be
administered via the rectum.

Unfortunately, since this is a mechanical problem that tends to worsen
over time, there will come a point where medications are no longer
effective. Keep in mind that the outcome depends on number of rings
involved and the severity of the collapse, which varies from pet to
pet. Surgery is an option when a collapse can no longer be alleviated
by medication. This involves removal of the affected rings. Sometimes
this is not possible because of the location or number of damaged
rings. The procedure is often difficult, prone to complications and
usually performed by a specialist.

Sadly, this disease can be fatal over time. The good news is it has a
slow progression and can be fairly well-managed with medications and
activity adjustments."




(I know you said you don't smoke) Second Hand Smoke Is Unhealthy For Pets Too.

"Older dogs commonly develop a chronic cough or a nasal congestion
that results in persistent "reverse sneezes." The cause of these
reverse sneezes is usually a mystery, but heart disease, bronchitis,
and a collapsing trachea ("windpipe") are probably the most common
possible causes of a chronic cough in dogs. Lung cancer also occurs in
dogs and can cause a chronic cough.

Bronchitis is an inflammation of the small airways in the lungs. It
can be caused by bacteria or some other infectious agent. It can also
be caused by allergies to pollen or other microscopic particles in the
air. And it could certainly be caused by cigarette smoke.

The coughing that is initially caused by bronchitis can lead to
further inflammation of the trachea. The persistent irritation and
stress can eventually cause the trachea to lose its round open shape.
It begins to collapse, like a wet soda straw. This results in even
more coughing and irritation, and to an untreatable, intolerable
condition. Which usually leads to euthanasia.":


The Geriatric Dog

"I really do think that most dogs reach a point where they are in a
enough pain, discomfort or distress that it becomes obvious that they
are not enjoying life. At that point, I think it is good that we can
offer euthanasia as an alternative to living on in misery. Our
practice experience matches your vet's advice --- at some point the
question "when should I consider euthanasia" no longer seems relevant,
because you just know that it is time with a certainty that makes you
sure there is no longer a question."


When Should You Put Your Dog Down? How to make a decision you never
want to make. By Jon Katz


i-dog -Internet Dog Discussion List

(Scroll to Continued Discussion slightly down from the top of the page
which is after New Topics)

Keyword search:

collapsing trachea canine
collapsing trachea canine prognosis
collapsing trachea dog progression
collapsed trachea dog treatments
small dog collapsing trachea
considering euthanasia dog

Best regards,
beebee35-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Question answered thoroughly, all parts of it, thank you so much.

Subject: Re: collapsing trachea in a small dog
From: rosebud1962-ga on 26 Apr 2004 11:22 PDT
I have had two small dogs with this condition.One was a poodle that
was almost 14 yrs. old and another was a terrier (mixed) that was only
5yrs. I had to have them both put to sleep, as the progression got so
bad, that they couldn't hardly walk (and always wanted to be where I
was) without being so worn out that they just had to "drop" down and
rest. My terrier was overweight, the poodle wasn't. Any surgery
wouldn't guarantee help and I couldn't see putting them through
anymore agony trying. I was told by my vet that I was doing the right
Subject: Re: collapsing trachea in a small dog
From: tlspiegel-ga on 26 Apr 2004 12:30 PDT
Hi beebee35,

Thank you for the nice rating and comments. :)

Best of luck to you,


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