Is There a Collapsing Trachea?

December 3, 2013 in Aerowood Animal Hospital

Is your dog just coughing or is there a collapsing trachea? Collapsing trachea is a somewhat common, chronic, progressive condition wherein the C-shaped cartilage that normally holds the windpipe open is too weak. The windpipe will periodically collapse, especially when there is pressure on the trachea – like when a dog is pulling on the leash. It’s good to be able to differentiate collapsing trachea from a normal cough, because the problem can lead to heart stress, eating and drinking complications, and other avoidable complications. Timely medical intervention can prevent or slow the progression of collapsing trachea. Coughing irritates the air way and leads to more coughing.

When the trachea collapses, it’s like trying to breathe through a closed straw. As you can imagine, this is stressful for most dogs. In early stages of the condition, attempts to breathe through a closed trachea sound like a goose honk. As collapsing trachea progresses, a persistent cough develops. If laryngeal paralysis co-exists with tracheal collapse, the dog makes a wheezing sound. When the condition is more progressed, dog owners may notice exercise intolerance, respiratory distress, or gagging while eating and drinking.

If you suspect a collapsing trachea, make an appointment with your vet right away.

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