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What is a Collapsed Trachea?

January 28th, 2008 · No Comments

Since I’m on the topic of common disorders seen in toy breed dogs, I might as well touch on the subject of a Collapsed Trachea. First, lets define exactly what a trachea does. The trachea is also known to many people as a windpipe. It connects the mouth, nose and throat to the lungs. It provides the passageway for oxygen to enter the lungs when you dog inhales and for carbon dioxide to leave the body when your dog exhales. It consists of a muscle lined with semi-circular rings of cartilage as seen in the figure below. The trachea is also a semi-rigid tube that is pretty resilient to small amounts of force.

trachea anatomy

So what physically happens when a trachea collapses? Well, the cartilage rings that surround the trachea become compressed and the muscle that lines the tracheal tube becomes weak and flimsy. Try to picture this. Imagine a water hose in its normal form. The hose is able to flow water freely with no restriction. Now if you step on a section of the hose to compress it slightly, less water is able to flow through the hose. The same thing happens in a collapsed trachea. The tracheal tube becomes compressed and breathing becomes harder to do.


Often, the results of a collapsed trachea involve heavy panting or rapid breathing. A course cough or wheezing may also develop from your dog. However, these are also signs of an upper respiratory infection, so always check with a vet to properly diagnose your dog. To make things even worse, the inflammation caused by the collapse from the muscles in the trachea creates an increase in secretions which in turn exacerbates the heavy panting and breathing. Adding on, a collapsed trachea that goes untreated will mostly likely end up getting worse, so you don’t want to drag your feet to the vet’s office when you start seeing these symptoms in your dog.

There are several factors that also aggravate a collapsed trachea in your dog. Obesity, cigarette smoke, respiratory infections and an enlarged heart can all be very detrimental to an already collapsed trachea. If your dog is over weight, you’ll want to get you dog some more exercise and possibly place them on a stricter diet. If you smoke, quit! It’ll be good for both you and your dog.

Treatment for a collapsed trachea may include antibiotics, cough suppressants, and certain steroidal medications. Just make sure you check with your vet on the proper treatments. There are also surgical procedures which can correct a collapsed trachea. Usually, this involves placing a rigid prosthetic tube within the trachea to provide more support and prevent any sort of constriction or collapsing of the cartilage rings.


So how can YOU help prevent a collapsed trachea? Many times, this is a hereditary problem seen in many toy breed dogs. In this case, there’s not much you can do except do a lot of research into your breeder and make sure that this is not a defect seen in any of the breeder’s dogs. Remember, even if the parents of your puppy do not have a collapsed trachea, there is still a chance that your puppy can contract this disorder if this problem is seen in the grandparents, great-grandparents and so on. This is why it is imperative to have healthy dogs in the ENTIRE line.

Another way you can help prevent this nasty and annoying disorder is by using a small dog harness as opposed to a small dog collar when walking your dog. A small dog harness places the pressure on the much sturdier chest bone and away from the more fragile trachea. When you use a small dog collar to walk your dog, there are some times when you are forced to give the leash a yank to pull you dog away from harm. Even though you mean good, this does not help the trachea at all. Using a small dog harness will remedy all these problems and help avoid a collapsed trachea from any sort of induced trauma that you would get from a dog collar.

Perhaps you’re now thinking that small dog harnesses are so ugly. I wish I could just use the super cute small dog collar to walk my dog. Don’t worry, you can still place a collar on your dog, but just use it as a dog tag holder. Swankpets.com carries a HUGE selection of super cute and trendy small dog harnesses. Our small dog harnesses are all guaranteed to be gorgeous and made out of top quality materials. They all come with a D-Ring on the back so you can attach your leash of choice, or perhaps choose a matching leash with some of our select small dog harnesses. Below are a few of the small dog harnesses Swankpets has to offer.

small dog harnesses


small dog harnesses


small dog harnesses


small dog harness for boys




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