What is Tracheal Collapse?
Tracheal collapse is a change in the diameter of the trachea which is the major airway leading into and out of the lungs. The trachea is composed of cartilage rings. When these rings weaken and/or the membrane completing the tracheal circle becomes redundant, the opening of the airway narrows restricting airflow in both directions.
How does my dog get Tracheal Collapse?
The cartilage composition may change as a result of cellular abnormalities. There may also be changes as a result of chronic diseases in the lower airways. Although there is no proven genetic linkage, there are a number of breeds that are predisposed to tracheal collapse (see below). Obesity may increase the likelihood and severity of tracheal collapse.
How do I know if my dog has Tracheal Collapse?
The classic presentation is a dry, goose-honk like cough. The cough is usually intermittent and may be associated with difficulty breathing. Efforts to clear the throat of mucous and phlegm may lead to retching. As the condition persists, increased respiratory rate, exercise intolerance, and respiratory distress are reported. In the most severe cases there may be either fainting or cyanosis from oxygen deficiency. Your veterinarian will want to take some radiographs of your dog’s lungs and heart to assess the severity of the condition and to help determine the best treatment approach. A blood sample to identify other underlying conditions is needed prior to initiation of treatment. Other lung or bronchial conditions may exist concurrently or as a result of tracheal collapse.
What can I do about Tracheal Collapse?
Depending upon how severe the condition is, it may be treated with medication on an outpatient basis or may require hospitalization with oxygen support and or sedation. Outpatient care is directed at keeping the coughing down using cough suppressants. Weight control is also mandatory. Humidity and excitement may precipitate an episode. A harness rather than a collar is helpful to minimize pressure on the trachea. Surgical intervention may be considered depending the dogs age and the severity of the collapse.
Is there anything I can do to prevent my dog from getting Tracheal Collapse?
Every effort should be made to make sure that the breeds listed below avoid obesity and use harnesses rather than collars.
Are there certain breeds that get Tracheal Collapse more often?
Small, middle age to older dogs from the following breeds (among others): Miniature poodle, Yorkshire terrier, Chihuahua, Pomeranian, other toy and small breeds.