Dog Health: Collapsing Trachea

Dog | Collapsing Trachea

An Introduction to Collapsing Trachea

Dr Erin Coomer - Veterinarian

July 2013

The trachea is the name for the ‘wind pipe’.  It is the tube that delivers air to the lungs, and it can be felt in your dog’s throat.  It is comprised of multiple “C”-shaped cartilage rings, with the tracheal membrane joining the open side of the “C”.  The cartilage rings are connected to each other by ligamentous tissue; the ultimate structure resembles a flexible vacuum cleaner hose!

Dog Collapsing Trachea information

Causes of Collapsing Trachea

The most commonly affected dogs are middle-aged toy and miniature breeds.  Affected dogs are normally adults.

Tracheal collapse occurs when the tracheal rings weaken and are less rigid.  The windpipe can narrow during inspiration or expiration, making it harder for the dog to breathe. 

The section of affected windpipe may be:

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Symptoms of Collapsing Trachea

>> Chronic cough.  May sound like a goose honking

>> Cough gets worse during exercise, warm weather, stress or excitement

>> Wearing a collar may worsen the cough

>> Concurrent respiratory infection or heart disease may worsen the symptoms

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Treatment of Collapsing Trachea

A Veterinarian should examine your dog and he/she will gather a detailed history from you. Your Vet will palpate (feel) your dog’s trachea, and see if a cough can be elicited.  They will also listen to the dog’s heart and lungs.

If your Veterinarian suspects your dog has a collapsing trachea, x-rays may be...
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