Jump to content
BC Boards

damaged/ collapsed trachea

Recommended Posts

once again i come to you wonderful and knowledgable folks about an new medical problem one of my dogs is faced with.


dixie (my senior BC rescue) is finally on the right dose of thyroid meds and doing great. my current question is about my 2nd rescue (griffin).


he's a large mixed breed (possibly rott/terrier) and a big gentle baby. when i got him he had kennel cough (the rescue group missed this little fact). he also came from an abusive situation and it seems like someone was very rough pulling on his collar and his scruff area (he flinches if you pet him there, even after being in my home for 2 years)


ok, long story short. the kennel cough never seemed to go away, and over the last few months i've noticed a constant honking cough. he has a coughing fit of about five loud honks, and then is done. he does this during the night usually, about once every 2-3 hours. (yes, i am a light sleeper.)


he doesn't seem at all in pain or uncomfortable. totaly unfazed. i asked my vet if maybe he just has some incurable kennel cough, or damage from past abuse, and the vet thinks it might be a partially collapsed trachea.


i've spent about $1,000 at the vet this month (both dogs got full check ups, vaccines, bloodwork and heartworm meds for the next 3 months, plus dixie's additional bloodwork for thyroid and liver problems.)


so while i save up some money, has anyone dealt with this medical problem? what would the treatment even be? the vet mentioned griffin would need to be sedated and xrayed, so this sounds expensive!


ok, any info would be great. thanks so much!



Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have a friend (OK, stop laughing Sue) who had this diagnosed in her Border collie. It's a pretty grim diagnosis in little dogs, but better for bigger dogs. The dignosis at the time (about ten years ago) was horrendously expensive, involving sedeation and a scope through the nose. She spent over one thousand dollars, only to be told there was not much they could do.


The condition, by the way, in her dog's case, was completely idiopathic - just developed as he got older. This dog never was on leash and lived his whole life as a pampered pet.


I myself had a dog that almost certainly was abused and had an unconfirmed partially collapsed trachea. He lived with it for many years and it never caused him to do much more than honk horribly every so often.


Your dog is just gorgeous. He reminds me of some purebred but I can't think what it is exactly. Yes, I just remembered - Picardy shepherd - he looks like a cross between a Picardy and a Beauceron. Or maybe Beauceron and Pyranean shepherd.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Rebecca -


I think you're on to something with the Picardy idea. Do you know anyone with a Pyr Shepherd? Although I'd heard of one, I never really looked it up. Very interesting! And it seems that their "smooth coat" is referring more to a smooth face, with what we would consider a "medium coat."



Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have a friend (OK, stop laughing Sue)
I CAN'T stop laughing, Becca!! You will just be my default for "I have a friend who has a friend...". You know I do love you, don't you?


By the way, I know someone (you can laugh at me, now) with a wire-haired Fox Terrier with a collapsing trachea. Heidi's a dog that doesn't spend time on a leash but just has a trachea that "collapses" particularly when she gets excited.


It sounds scary but it's over shortly, and she goes on like it never happened. I wouldn't be surprised if dogs could have this problem due to abuse and mistreatment but it does also occur "spontaneously" (maybe genetic?).


As for Griffin (and I'm not a big Rottweiler fan), that "terrier/rott" face is wonderful. Both of your dogs are such fun-looking dogs - how cute!


Best wishes!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Do you know anyone with a Pyr Shepherd?
Pry sheps are getting more popular as sport dogs. I actually don't know anyone with one, except there is someone on these boards, I think.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Collapsing tracheas are common in poodles and I believe is somewhat genetic but who knows.


A dog can lead a pretty normal life with it and as others said they will just have coughing fits.


There is a jrt in MD that plays flyball that has a collapsing trachea. The owners just have to be careful but the dog loves the game so they let him play.


If the dog is no worse for the wear and all the normal tests have been done (chest xrays, bloodwork, etc...) I am not sure it is worth spending the big bucks to have it officially diagnosed.


There is a simple test vets can do by pressing on the trachea and see what the reaction is but not always accurate. My toy poodle has had this test since he has periodic bouts of coughing for no reason. The vets said if he has it, there is no point in spending big bucks on diagnosing it since they cannot really do anything for it.


If you suspect this is a problem, just walk the dog in a harnass and such. Don't put much pressure on the neck area. I would also probably not allow the dog to wear a collar unless needed. When a dog lies down a certain way, the collar can actually press on the trachea area...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The honking cough is usually tracheal, but it's not always a collapsing trachea. Sometimes a tracheitis (infection or inflammation in the trachea) can cause it as well. Eileen has a good point about keeping in mind that you can have reverse sneezing that can stimulate a tracheal cough sometimes, so the trachea may or may not be the primary source of the cough.


Pressing on the trachea does often (but not always) elicit a cough in a dog with collpasing trachea; this is because the part of the trachea that collapses may be inside the thorax, where you can't press on it.


It's never a bad idea to do Xrays on dogs with this condition, since an enlarged heart can cause it (by pressing against the lower end of the trachea); you may also be able to determine where (intrathoracic or extrathoracic) the collapse is occurring. Sometimes you actually DO need to scope them, however (they have to be under anesthesia for this, so it is somewhat expensive. Costs vary, so check with your vet.)


It is possible to develop a collapsing trachea as a consequence of trauma, but it's not at all uncommon as a spontaneously occurring disease, especially in small dogs (mini poodles and small terriers are the commonest). Any breed or mix of dog can have one, however. Generally we treat medically, since the surgical options are not very satisfying... if you stabilize the trachea in the neck, it generally just starts collapsing in the chest instead, so you really didn't solve anything. You just moved it downstream.


We had one dog with a VERY severe collpasing trachea (on scoping, you could see the airway occlude completely - on every breath). We treated that one with an expensive drug (which the owner was willing to pay for, to the tune of $200 per bottle) and gave it a poor prognosis (which the owner was willing to accept). They wanted to palliate, and the dog actually did well for a while. But that was one we were never going to win, and eventually we didn't. Fortunately most of them are less severe and more of a nuisance than a serious health concern (although any dog with an abnormal airway is at greater risk for respiratory infection). They do tend to worsen with age, however, and the suggestion about not putting extra pressure on the trachea with collars and so on is a good one. Either use a Halti or Promise collar, or a harness which doesn't press at the base of the trachea where it enters the chest.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

wow, thanks so much for the information. i am going to take off his collar and stick with the harness when we go on walks. it seems to mainly happen at night when he's laying down and relaxed, so i bet that will help.


i've been keeping a very close eye on griffin (which is easy when the 80 pound dog is right in bed with you hacking away!) he's showing no signs of discomfort or pain, not lethargic at all during the day (we call him our big spaz) and is a wildly happy mutt. so for now i am just keeping my eye on things, seeing if removing the collar works, and saving up for the xrays in the near future.


thanks so much!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My friend's jack russel has those symtoms you describe, and every once in a while he'll cough up a bit of clear, foamy goo. The docs treated him for kennel cough, and when it did not go away they were a bit taken aback and just dubbed it as a 'habit' or something...


But the dog would get to coughing/hacking whenever he got excited, and he can't bark real well, either....but they've been to two vets and the vets simply have no clue.


This is the first time I've heard of the idea of a collapsed trachea...and that makes a lot more sense than the 'habit' excuse they were given. I'm going to share this with her tomorrow at work...how dangerous is this affliction, and can it be cured???

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...