Canine Collapsed Trachea

Collapsed trachea is a condition that causes a dog’s windpipe, or trachea to collapse. This condition is usually caused by the weakening of the cartilage rings that normally help keep the trachea open. This weakening can be due to genetics, obesity or other medical conditions such as heart disease or respiratory infections. Signs of collapsed trachea include a dry, “honking” cough, breathing difficulty, and exercise intolerance. If you suspect your dog has a collapsed trachea, please contact your veterinarian for evaluation and treatment.

Symptoms of Canine Collapsed Trachea

The most common symptom of collapsed trachea is a dry, honking cough. This type of cough is typically worse after exercise or excitement and can be heard from a distance. Other signs include:

  • Difficulty breathing especially during exercise
  • Intolerance to physical activity

Diagnosing Canine Collapsed Trachea

Diagnosing collapsed trachea is based on a review of their medical history, physical examination and radiographic evaluation. During the physical examination, your veterinarian will evaluate your dog for signs of respiratory distress such as rapid breathing or difficulty breathing, a dry honking cough, and exercise intolerance.

They may also listen with a stethoscope for any abnormal sounds coming from their lungs or trachea. Radiographs might be taken to look for a collapsed trachea, as well as to look for any other abnormalities in their chest. In some cases, more advanced imaging such as CT scans or MRI may be necessary.

Stages of Canine Collapsed Trachea

The canine collapsed trachea is split into four stages.

Mild Tracheal Collapse:

In this stage, the tracheal walls are weakened but still remain open during breathing. Symptoms may be intermittent and mild.

Moderate Tracheal Collapse:

In this stage, the tracheal walls have been weakened further and collapse more often. Symptoms may be more frequent and severe.

Severe Tracheal Collapse:

In this stage, the tracheal walls are severely weakened and collapse frequently. Symptoms may be very severe with difficulty breathing, exercise intolerance, and coughing.

Complete Tracheal Collapse:

This is the most serious stage of canine collapsed trachea.

Treatment for Canine Collapsed Trachea

The treatment for collapsed trachea depends on the stage and severity of the condition. Treatment typically includes lifestyle changes, medication to help reduce inflammation and coughing, and in some cases surgery can be recommended. Lifestyle changes may include maintaining a healthy weight, using a harness instead of a collar when walking your dog, avoiding overexertion during exercise, and managing any underlying conditions such as heart disease or respiratory infections.

Medication can include bronchodilators, corticosteroids and antibiotics. Surgery is typically reserved for the most severe cases of collapsed trachea that do not respond to other medical management. The goal of surgery is to reduce their tracheal diameter and improve air flow.

Collapsed trachea is a serious condition that can cause significant distress for your dog. It’s important to contact your veterinarian if you suspect your dog may have this condition so that it can be properly diagnosed and treated.

Preventing Canine Collapsed Trachea

The best way to prevent collapsed trachea is to maintain a healthy weight for your dog. Obesity increases their risk of developing this condition, and it’s important to feed them a well-balanced diet and give them plenty of exercise. It’s important to keep up with regular veterinary check ups to detect any signs of this condition early on and begin treatment as soon as possible.