There are many health maladies that dogs can be susceptible to that affect their ability to breathe. One of them is canine tracheal collapse, which can be a life-threatening condition if not treated right away.
Here is a guide on what a collapsed trachea is in dogs, what can be done to prevent it, and what needs to be done to treat it.
What is Collapsed Trachea in Dogs?
The trachea is the windpipe that connects the mouth, nose, and throat to the bronchial tube, which is then connected to the lungs. Keeping the trachea open and clear ensures proper respiration. It’s possible for it to weaken, causing it to fail and collapse, thus narrowing or even completely closing the air passage that would otherwise allow the dog to breathe normally.
Reasons Why Collapsed Trachea Happen to Dogs
It tends to be congenital in nature, with the dog being born with weak cartilage in their trachea. Smaller breeds tend to be more susceptible to this condition. The risk of a collapsed trachea gets worse as the dog gets older. It becomes a major issue once the dog reaches at least 6 years old, and it can be triggered by respiratory and cardiovascular problems.
Other risk factors include obesity and being exposed to cigarette smoke and other pollutants, as well as Cushing’s disease.
Key Indicators of Collapsed Trachea In Dogs
Whenever you notice your dog has coughing fits, rapid breathing, difficulty in breathing, unusual breathing sounds like wheezing, fainting, bluish teeth, and is generally tired all the time then it’s time for an emergency veterinarian visit.
Aside from taking the dog to the vet, you must also protect the dog from pollutants and other harmful elements in the air.
Diagnosing Collapsed Trachea in Dogs
In order to know for sure if it’s a collapsed trachea, the vet will give the dog a physical examination and take a chest x-ray to view the condition of the trachea and the rest of the respiratory system. The vet may also take a fluoroscopy, which is an x-ray image of the dog while they’re breathing. If further examination is needed, the vet may insert an endoscope through the dog’s airway for a bronchoscopy, as well as a blood test to find out if the dog has other conditions.
Treatment for Collapsed Trachea in Dogs
If the case is mild or moderate, it can be treated with medicine. A bronchodilator is the primary choice for addressing tracheal collapse, either in capsule or inhaler form. The vet may also prescribe a liquid cough suppressant to alleviate coughing and/or an anti-inflammatory steroid to lower inflammation in the trachea. If the dog is prone to panic, which can worsen symptoms, a sedative may be needed to calm the pet down.
Take note that these treatment options don’t cure the condition, but only help address the symptoms. Coupled with proper care and management, they can help the dog live a happier life. If all else fails, it may be necessary to perform surgery on the trachea to open the airway and insert setting rings or a stent to keep it open.
Management for Dog with Collapsed Trachea at Home
You can help your dog recover from a collapsed trachea by keeping them away from any smoke, aerosols, dust, and other pollutants. Make sure the dog resides in a room with adequate ventilation and regularly change your air filters.
The dog’s diet may also need to be changed if they happen to be overweight. You may also want to take the dog on more walks, making sure to use a tap setup for the collar to avoid pressure on the trachea.
This video gives some great advice on how to cope with this worrying condition: