Collapsing Trachea is a problem common to Toy Breeds. The trachea is a long tube that carries air from the neck to the chest. It is reinforced with rings of cartilage that help keep it rigid as air moves in and out of the tube. When the cartilage weakens, the trachea may collapse while the dog is breathing. While many affected dogs do fine, this isn't the case in all of the Toy's. The round cartilage rings may flatten, forcing the dog to try to breathe through an extremely narrow opening.

Tracheal collapse occurs because the C-shaped tracheal rings do not possess normal rigidity.  As a result, the involved wall of the trachea collapses as the dog inhales. 

The symptoms of the condition: 

  • Shortness of breath

  • Goose-honk coughing 

  • Fatigue  

  • Respiratory insufficiency develops as the disease progresses

  • Retching, often observed from an attempt to clear respiratory secretions from the larynx 

Symptoms usually appear after the age of five, although they can begin as early as birth. Generally young dogs tolerate collapsing trachea pretty well until they get older.  The condition is usually worsened by excitement, heat, humidity, exercise or obesity. 


The systems that are affected by this are:

  • Respiratory -- lower respiratory tract infection or inflammation owing to poor clearance of secretions and bacteria.

  • Cardiovascular -- pulmonary hypertension.

  • Nervous -- may be involved when syncope (Temporary loss of consciousness and vascular tone) develops from hypoxia or a vasovagal reflex associated with cough

Mild cases of collapsing trachea can often be managed with medications.  If an affected dog is overweight, a weight-loss program is a good start.  Cough suppressants and drugs designed to dilate the airways can help relieve symptoms.  Combinations of medications along with weight control may reduce clinical signs.  Overexertion and excitement should be discouraged, since the increased respiratory rate can aggravate the condition.

Surgery may benefit some patients

Patients will cough throughout their life



Information compiled from "The dog owner's home veterinary handbook" and "The 5-minute veterinary consult"



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Mystic Moon Yorkies
Valparaiso, IN 46385