Tracheal collapse in dogs results from the deterioration of the bony rings that support the windpipe or trachea. The cause of tracheal collapse is not clear, but it commonly occurs in small breeds of dogs known as toy dogs. Yorkshire terriers are one of the most commonly affected breeds. This condition usually develops when the dogs are 6 years or older.
The typical symptom is a honking cough accompanied by difficulty in breathing. The cough is nonproductive and chronic, and these symptoms in a toy breed almost always indicate tracheal collapse. Exercise intolerance and bluish tint of the gums indicate oxygen inadequacy in the blood. Tracheal collapse affects both sexes, but obesity, heart disease, and respiratory diseases such as bronchitis make the animal more prone to this condition.
The veterinarian may prescribe corticosteroids and cough suppressants to relieve the symptoms, but they will not cure the condition. Weight loss is effective, and essential for managing the condition. Reducing the activity level and excitement may be necessary. The vet may recommend a chest harness for the dog instead of the usual collar to reduce the stress on the trachea. Surgical treatment has limited success, especially in dogs older than 6 years.