How long do dogs live with tracheal collapse? Here’s What to Expect

What age does tracheal collapse usually occur?

Tracheal collapse occurs most frequently in middle-aged to senior (4-14 years) dogs, but sometimes occurs in younger dogs.

The most common clinical sign is a persistent, dry, harsh cough. It is sometimes described as a ‘goose honk’ cough. The cough may worsen at night, with excitement, with pressure on the trachea – such as from a collar, during hot or humid weather, or immediately after eating or drinking.

How is a collapsing trachea diagnosed?

During a physical exam, very light pressure placed on the trachea that causes coughing or breathing difficulty may raise suspicion of tracheal collapse. Tests such as radiography (X-rays) or use of an endoscope or bronchoscope are needed to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment For Collapsed Trachea In Dogs

Many dogs have mild symptoms that progress slowly over their lifetime. If the tracheal collapse results in a cough that resolves by itself and doesn’t affect your dog’s ability to exercise or cause severe breathing difficulties, then they are unlikely to need treatment.

A large number of dogs will respond to lifestyle changes. Weight loss is often recommended following a diagnosis of tracheal collapse, being walked with a harness rather than a neck lead, and avoiding airway irritants such as cigarette smoke and aerosols. Medications such as corticosteroids help reduce inflammation, cough suppressants, and antibiotics if a secondary respiratory infection is diagnosed.

Dogs that have a severe tracheal collapse and are struggling with the effects of this, particularly if it is associated with breathing difficulties, could require surgical management. Tracheal stenting involves placing a metal mesh within the trachea to keep it open and avoid obstruction. The stent is placed under anesthesia using fluoroscopy (a moving x-ray) to confirm the correct placement. Complications can be seen following this surgery as the body creates inflammation around the stent. Many dogs require lifelong medication following this type of surgery, and some require a second surgery at some point in their life.

Collapsing Trachea in dogs. Three tips from Dr. Dan!

Tracheal Collapse in dogs is a form of obstruction of the trachea or “windpipe” caused by flaccidity and flattening of the cartilaginous rings which support the trachea. The condition is most often seen in small-breed dogs, with the condition worsening over time. Collapsing trachea in dogs causes a harsh cough and breathing difficulties which vary in severity and impact on dogs’ lives. Let’s find out more about this condition, the signs of collapsed trachea to look out for, and how to treat collapsed trachea in dogs. Table Of Contents