Chihuahua sniffing grass.

Collapsed Tracheas are a fairly common problem in chihuahuas. It happens when the sturdy rings that make up the trachea start to weaken and flatten. Symptoms include chronic coughing in the pet, with extreme cases involving dogs fainting from lack of oxygen.

Even mild cases can be serious because collapsing tracheas can make surgery riskier for your pet. Tracheal collapse is more common in small breeds of dogs, and it is strongly suspected that there is a hereditary factor in the veterinary community.

Reducing Risk of Tracheal Collapse

So how do you reduce the risk of tracheal collapse in your chihuahua? Preventing it can be difficult. There’s no genetic test to determine if a dog is prone to it, and it often doesn’t show up until middle age. By the time you realize it’s a problem, it’s often too late. Luckily, there’s a few things you can do.

Watch Your Pet’s Weight

If your pet is prone to a weakened trachea, the pressure from too much fat can worsen it. A recent study published in 2021 found that obese dogs who suffered from tracheal collapse saw improvement in symptoms when they lost weight.

Obesity can aggravate the collapse of the trachea, so it’s important to keep your chihuahua slim and trim if you want to reduce the risk of tracheal collapse.

Avoid respiratory irritants

Secondhand smoke, air fresheners, and even hot, humid environments can all irritate your dog’s respiratory tract. Avoiding irritants is an important part of reducing the risk of tracheal collapse, and managing symptoms if it does occur.

Use a Harness

Pressure on your dog’s throat can lead to tracheal collapse. Using a harness can help reduce the risk of tracheal collapse by making sure any tension from the leash is not on the throat. A harness is an especially good idea if your dog tends to pull on the leash, or if you use a flexi type leash which is always applying tension to your dog.

If your dog doesn’t ever apply pressure to the leash, than a collar won’t harm your pet. We often wear collars because it is easier on our older dogs with stiff joints, however we recently found this new harness (ad) that we really like. It has buckles that allow us to put the harness on without having to bend any legs (painful in one of our dogs.) We’ll be doing a full review on it next week.

Treatments for Tracheal Collapse

If you notice a goose like honking cough, your dog should see a veterinarian. Your veterinarian will help determine whether the cough is from tracheal collapse, or from other conditions such as heart failure that can have similar symptoms.

Once tracheal collapse is determined to be the cause, medications such as cough suppressants can help reduce symptoms, along with medications to help open the passageways and make breathing easier.

Chihuahuas are fairly delicate animals and are prone to health problems. You can help make their golden years good ones by taking care of your dog’s neck throughout their whole life. A trim waistline, avoiding pressure on the neck, and giving them clean air to breathe can all help keep them breathing well their whole life.

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