What is a collapsed trachea?
The trachea, or windpipe, is the tube connecting the throat to the lungs. Small rings of cartilage along the tracheal wall maintain the tubal shape. These rings do not completely encircle the windpipe, but go about 5/6 of the circumference. A thin membrane of tissue completes the circle. If the cartilage loses some of its turgidity and/or the membrane becomes slack, the tracheal rings will flatten when air is drawn into the airway to the lungs during inspiration. This is tracheal collapse. It makes it difficult for air to get to the lungs.
Are certain breeds more often affected?
Yes, , Pomeranians, Shih Tzu's, Lhasa Apso's, Toy poodles, and terriersare often affected with tracheal collapse. Because of that, we suspecta genetic factor is involved. It is important to note that tracheal collapsecan occur in all dogs, regardless of size or breed.What age does tracheal collapse occur?Most dogs are middle-aged to elderly (4-14 years) but some dogs aremuch younger.
What are the clinical signs?
The most common clinical sign is a persistent, dry, harsh cough. It is sometimes described as a â€œgoose honk" cough. The cough may worsen at night, with excitement, pressure on the trachea (from a leash), in hot or humid weather, or immediately after eating or drinking.
How is a collapsed trachea diagnosed?
During a physical exam, very light pressure placed on the trachea resulting in coughing or difficulty breathing can raise a suspicion of collapsed trachea. Other tests such as radiography (x-rays) or use of an endoscope / bronchoscope are needed to confirm the diagnosis.
Are there other conditions that can are similar to collapsing trachea?
Other causes of coughing, including congestive heart failure, must be ruled out. Sometimes heart disease and collapsed trachea are present at the same time.
How is collapsed trachea treated?
Collapsed trachea can be treated medically, surgically, or by a combination of the two. Your veterinarian will discuss the various treatment options. Even with good control, most dogs will continue to experience at least some coughing throughout its life.
What can I do to help the dog?
Weight reduction is important to reduce the severity of collapsing trachea. Prevent over-excitement and use a harness rather than a collar. Your veterinarian will provide specific treatment instructions to help with your dog's condition.