Many dog owners are devastated when their pets are diagnosed with the unique condition known as tracheal collapse. While this medical complication might sound ominous, your dog can live a full and healthy life as long as you recognize the warning signs early and seek out professional help as soon as possible.
Common Symptoms and Warning Signs
Also known as the windpipe, the trachea is a small tube of soft tissue and cartilage that transports air to and from the lungs. When the trachea begins to shrink or collapse, it can result in many different side effects including wheezing, honking, and coughing. These issues generally occur when the dog is excited or engaging in physical activity. They might also have a tough time breathing when they are eating or in an awkward position such as on their back.
Tracheal collapse is a genetic condition, but many lifestyle factors affect their breathing as well. One of the biggest factors to consider is the dog's weight. Obese dogs tend to suffer from much higher rates of tracheal collapse, and that is why it is so important to keep your pet on a strict diet. While this condition can manifest itself at any time, most owners begin to notice that their pets are having breathing problems around the age of six or seven. Some veterinarians believe that external factors such as airborne irritants can worsen this condition.
Visit a Pet Clinic
Owners should contact a pet clinic as soon as they notice any signs of tracheal collapse. Professionals, like those at Seattle Emergency Veterinary Hospital, know that the first step in diagnosing this condition is to take X-rays of the dog's chest and neck to determine where the windpipe is being pinched. The veterinarian might also suggest using an anesthetic so that they can inspect the dog's throat with a scope and camera.
Treating Tracheal Collapse
When it is caught early, tracheal collapse can often be treated with a mixture of cough suppressants, steroids, and antibiotics. In some cases, the dog might also need to breathe through a small machine for a few moments each day to dilate their trachea. In the advanced stages of tracheal collapse, most dogs require some form of surgery to place a stent in the throat or widen their windpipe.
Dog owners should never ignore unusual breathing problems such as wheezing or coughing fits. These issues are often caused by serious medical conditions that must be treated immediately.