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Tracheal Collapse In Toy Breed Dogs

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Keely, Yorkshire TerrierToy breed dogs, particularly Chihuahuas, Toy Poodles, Pomeranians and Yorkies are especially prone to collapse of the trachea.  The condition usually appears in dogs age six or older, with those overweight dogs at very high risk.

Tracheal collapse occurs because the rings of the trachea, which should be C-shaped, don’t have normal rigidity.  Because of this, the wall of the trachea collapses as the dog inhales.

The prevalent symptom of collapse is a persistent cough, often sounding like a goose honking.  Other symptoms include resistance to exercise or a bluish tint to the dog’s gums.  Irritants such as dust, cigarette smoke, heat and humidity can aggravate the condition.

If you suspect your dog may be suffering from a collapsed trachea, have your pet examined by a veterinarian as soon as possible.  If your dog’s case is mild to moderate, dietary changes and reducing stressful conditions that would aggravate coughing will often keep the condition under control.  Moderate exercise is helpful, and using a harness rather than a standard collar is highly recommended to reduce stress on the neck.

For mild to moderate cases treatments include cough suppressants, corticosteroids, bronchodilators or antibiotics.  It is recommended that obese dogs lose weight.  These treatments don’t cure the condition but help keep it under control.

The treatments discussed above are successful in managing symptoms in about 70% of cases. For those more serious cases or ones that don’t respond to treatment, surgery is recommended.  Depending on the location of the collapse, treatments include placement of plastic rings inside the trachea or placing a stent in the trachea to keep the airway open. This procedure is very serious and should be performed by a surgeon experienced in treatment for this specific condition.

Keeping your dog’s weight down, using a harness rather than a collar and avoiding environmental irritants will ease symptoms and help him feel his best.



Source:  Dog Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook, Fourth Edition, 2007


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