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Tracheal Collapse in Dogs: Symptoms and Treatments

Tracheal Collapse in Dogs: Symptoms and Treatments

Does your dog suddenly start coughing, sounding more like a honking goose than a pup? Or, perhaps your dog has a dry, raspy cough, especially after a lot of excitement or activity? If so, it can certainly be pretty alarming, especially if it‘s happening often. Several different things can cause your dog to have a recurring cough. If you notice your canine companion exhibiting some of these issues, your pooch could be dealing with a condition known as tracheal collapse.

 

What Is Tracheal Collapse?

 

Tracheal collapse is a progressive respiratory issue that occurs when the C-shaped cartilage rings in the windpipe (or trachea) start to collapse when your pup breathes. The trachea connects your pup’s throat to the lungs, and the rings consist of cartilage about ¾ of the way around. The remainder of the ring consists of a thin membrane. It’s these rings of cartilage that help the tube maintain its shape and keep the airway open.

 

However, when the rings don’t have enough strength or the membranes grow slack, as your dog breathes air in toward the lungs, it can flatten the rings. This flattening makes it difficult for your dog to breathe properly and makes it difficult for your pup to get enough air.

 

Tracheal collapse affects the tracheal lumen, which is the supporting structure for your pup’s windpipe. The condition is progressive, ranging from Grade 1, in which the cartilage is well-defined, but there are 25% fewer cells composing the tracheal lumen to Grade 4, in which the tracheal lumen totally collapses. Grade 2 has about 50% fewer cells comprising the tracheal lumen, and Grade 3 takes it to roughly 75% fewer cells.

 

How Does a Dog Get Tracheal Collapse?

 

The specific cause of tracheal collapse is currently unknown, although many things point to it being a genetic condition. If your dog is born with tracheal collapse, then it’s a possibility that they were born with fewer rings of cartilage.

 

However, certain factors can increase the amount of respiratory distress your dog experiences, such as obesity, over-excitement, exercise, pressure from wearing a collar, drinking water, and extreme temperatures.

 

What Are the Signs of Tracheal Collapse?


The most telling sign of this condition is the dry, honking cough that can make your dog sound almost goose-like. However, there are some additional indicators as well. Here are a few other signs you can keep a lookout for that could signal tracheal collapse in your dog:

 

  • Your dog displays periods of respiratory distress or difficulty breathing

  • Your pup coughs when you pick them up

  • Your dog’s cough causes them to gag, dry-heave, or throw up

  • Your dog’s mucous membranes appear bluish

  • Your dog wheezes

 

Are Some Dogs More Prone to Tracheal Collapse?


As you probably know, some dog breeds are more susceptible to certain health conditions than others, but it doesn’t mean any particular pup is immune to a specific disease. Any dog can experience tracheal collapse, no matter their age or breed, but some dogs are more prone to the condition than others. These pups mostly consist of smaller breeds, like Pomeranians, Pugs, Miniature and Toy Poodles, Chihuahuas, Shih Tzu, Maltese, Lhasa Apsos, and Yorkshire Terriers.


Yorkies, especially, seem to suffer from this condition, often receiving a diagnosis when they are still young adults (which is about 1 to 2 years old). Otherwise, tracheal collapse typically occurs in older dogs, and most pups won’t get a diagnosis until they’ve reached middle age (which is closer to 4 years old) or their senior years. Obesity is another significant factor that can influence tracheal collapse, adding to the severity of the condition and making it harder for a dog to deal with respiratory complications.

Diagnosing and Treating Tracheal Collapse


If your pup is exhibiting any of the symptoms mentioned above, your first step is to schedule a visit with your vet. Only a veterinarian can make an official diagnosis of tracheal collapse. Plus, the condition can sometimes mimic other, more severe issues like congestive heart failure. In some cases, there could be multiple conditions at play at one time, and tracheal collapse could be one of them.


Therefore, it’s vital to have other possibilities ruled out first (or discovered simultaneously). Your vet will likely perform several tests, including urinalysis, bloodwork, and a chest X-ray, to rule out other conditions. Plus, the chest x-ray can also help your vet determine if the collapse is closer to your pup’s throat or chest.


If tracheal collapse seems to be the likely culprit, your vet may also suggest additional tests like a tracheoscopy to get a closer look at the trachea, as well as a fluoroscopy, which is an X-ray that creates moving images of your dog’s breathing. If the final diagnosis is tracheal collapse, depending on how severe the condition is, your vet will suggest lifestyle modifications first (more on these below).


Your vet may also prescribe certain medications to help with inflammation and manage your pup’s coughing. These could include things like antibiotics, sedatives, bronchodilators, and cough suppressants. In very extreme cases, your vet may also recommend surgery by a board-certified veterinary surgeon, which you can find through the American College of Veterinary Surgeons. There have also been some studies that show a correlation between dogs with tracheal collapse and liver disease, so it’s also possible that your vet may start to monitor your pup’s liver more closely. 

 

Dog with Neater Slow Feeder

Tips for Helping Your Dog Deal with Tracheal Collapse


Since it’s likely your pup was born with the issue or is predisposed to it, there isn’t much you can do to prevent tracheal collapse. Still, there are many things you can do to relieve the symptoms and decrease the bouts of respiratory distress your canine companion experiences. In fact, lifestyle changes will likely be some of the first things your vet suggests to help your dog cope with a collapsing trachea.


If your pup is overweight, it will be vital to help your dog lose some weight. Talk with your vet about switching to diet food for your pup or altering the amount of food your dog eats. Limiting extras like treats is also a good idea and making sure your pup gets enough exercise (without overdoing it).


Another change would be to switch from a collar to a harness so when you tug at your pup’s leash, it doesn’t put pressure on the throat. Also, ensure you don’t expose your dog to irritants in the air, such as smoke and other pollutants. Another excellent adjustment would be to have your pup use a slow feeder or a Neat-Lik Mat at mealtime to help your dog eat slower and at a healthier pace. Elevated feeders can also help with this condition as it is less pressure on the throat from bending over to eat.


Overall, there is no cure for tracheal collapse, but you can help manage the condition so your dog can live a happy life. It’s essential to keep in mind that the condition does progress. Therefore, even with treatment, your pup’s condition will likely worsen over time, and you may need to give your dog medication for their lifetime.


To learn more about other important pet-centric topics, check out the rest of our blog. You’ll find all sorts of useful information right at your fingertips that can help you be the best pet parent you can be.

10 Benefits of an Elevated Dog Bowl

10 Benefits of an Elevated Dog Bowl

Are you looking for a new bowl for your pet? You may have noticed that some bowls are raised off the ground, and some sit right on the ground.  There are many reasons that your dog would benefit from a raised bowl. There are even certain medical conditions that your dog may have that your vet would recommend you elevate your dog's bowls.  This article will explain why you may want to consider getting a raised bowl for your dog and what are some of the best, raised bowls for your dog.


What is an elevated dog bowl?

An elevated dog bowl is just like it sounds; it is a dog bowl that is raised off the ground.  When many people think of dog bowls, they see two bowls sitting on the ground. While this may be fine for some dogs, there are many reasons that a dog would benefit from a bowl that was a little higher up.  

 

black lab dog using elevated feeder bowl


Top 10 Benefits of an Elevated Dog Bowl

1. Better posture

When you raise your dog's bowl, you will help improve their posture.  Bending over all the time drinking water and eating food from bowls on the floor can cause bad posture that can lead to back problems in your dog.

2. Comfort While Eating 

When you elevate your dog's bowls, you are helping to make them more comfortable when they are eating.  Older dogs usually have arthritis and joint pain.  Having to bend over to eat and drink constantly can be very painful.  

3. Certain Medical Conditions Require a Raised Bowl

Certain medical conditions, such as megaesophagus, can cause your dog to need elevated dog bowls.  By elevating your dog's bowls, it will help food move down their esophagus easier. 

4. Helps With Swallowing

Elevated dog bowls will help with swallowing.  When your dog has to bend over to drink water or eat food, they have to move food and water against gravity up the esophagus into the stomach.  When you elevate their bowls, it makes swallowing much easier.  

5. Slows Down Fast Eaters

Dogs who are known to eat fast can benefit from an elevated bowl.  This can slow them down when eating because they have to eat at a more upright position. Also, slow feeder bowls are great to use with dogs who tend to eat very fast. Neater Pets makes a slow feeder bowl that is also elevated and is a great choice for and elevated dog bowl for dogs who eat very fast. 

6. Keep Dogs From Lying Down While Eating

If your dog is lying down when they are eating, this is usually the first sign that their bowls are not high enough.  When they lay down, this is putting them in a more relaxed position to eat. Laying down and eating can cause problems with digestion.  By elevating your dog's bowls, you will allow your dogs to be in a more comfortable position that will help with digestion. 

7. Easier For You to Get to the Bowl  

By elevating your dog’s bowls, you are making them easier for you to reach.  Older people may have problems with arthritis and have difficulty bending over. If your dog's bowls are elevated, it makes it easier for you to give them food and water. 

8. Keeps Feeding Area Cleaner

If your dog's bowls are elevated, it is easier to keep the feeding area clean.  Your dog is also less likely to make a mess with bowls that are closer to their mouths.  Large dogs such as mastiffs may drip water out of their mouths after drinking. By elevating your dog's bowls, they will make less of a mess with their food and water. A great choice for a bowl to help with a dog who drool after drinking water is a Neater Feeder.  These bowls come in many different sizes and also come with leg extensions to elevate your dog's bowls. 

9. Prevents Playing in the Bowl

Many dogs and puppies love to play in their water bowl.  Some will even carry their bowls around the house. Most elevated dog bowls are in a stand that cannot be easily carried around the house.  By elevating your dog’s bowls, you will spend less time drying off your dog and floor because it is more difficult for your dog to play in their water bowl.  

10. Helps Bowls Stay In Place

Elevated dog bowls come in a stand that cannot be easily knocked over.  Some dogs will scoot their bowls across the floor with their nose or may run into them when playing in the house.  These stands stay in place much easier than bowls that sit on the floor.

 

three neater feeders for dogs

 

How to Pick Out The Perfect Bowl?

When looking for an elevated bowl, there are many different kinds and sizes to choose from. There is not one bowl that will fit the needs of every dog and every dog owner.  When looking at the sizes of bowls, there are ways to measure your dog and pick out the best size for your dog. It is best to determine the size that you need by measuring your dog from their shoulders to the ground.  Then subtract about 3 to 6 inches. This is about the height of the bowl that you want. There are many different types of bowls for you to pick from that are elevated. The bowl you pick will all depend on what type of dog you have. 

Pretty Bowls

There are bowls that are more decorated and may fit in with the decor in your house.  These are wrought iron stands and pretty bowls.  These come with a very pretty stand and bowls that would go well with most home decor.  

wrought iron feeder stand

Bowls for Dogs That Make Messes

If your dog makes a big mess while eating, there are Neater Pet bowls that help collect any water that your dog may knock out of their bowl. 

Bowls for a Dog Who Eats Fast

If your dog is a fast eater, there are slow feeder bowls to help make them slow down while eating that can also be elevated.  These bowls have many small indentations that your dog has to maneuver around to get to their food. 


There are many reasons that you would want to feed your dog from an elevated dog bowl, when looking for a bowl there are different types of bowls that you need to consider.  Most of these bowls have multiple purposes that you need to consider. When looking for a great elevated dog bowl, Neater Pets has a great selection of dog bowls for you to pick from that will help keep your dog happy and healthy for years.