Collapsed trachea

Weakened cartilage rings of the windpipe causing narrowing of the airway

A collapsed trachea, a narrowing of the airway, can cause a variety of symptoms in pets. Signs may include:

  • Frequent coughing, especially during excitement or physical activity
  • Honking or wheezing sound when breathing
  • Difficulty breathing, indicated by rapid or labored breaths
  • Gagging or retching, as if something is caught in the throat
  • Exercise intolerance or reluctance to engage in physical activities
  • Fainting or collapsing episodes
  • Symptoms worsening in hot or humid environments
  • Blue-tinged gums or tongue (indicating poor oxygenation in severe cases)

Other health conditions may share similar symptoms with a collapsed trachea, including respiratory infections, Valvular Heart Disease, or bronchitis.

If you notice any of these signs or have concerns about your pet's health, consult with your veterinarian. Seek immediate veterinary attention if you suspect your pet is having trouble breathing, has blue gums/tongue, or collapses. Early detection and intervention can improve the chances of successful management and prevent complications.

When you visit your veterinarian for concerns related to a collapsed trachea, the following may occur:

  • Medical history: Discussion of your pet's medical history, including observed symptoms and their duration.
  • Physical examination: The veterinarian will perform a thorough physical examination of your pet, checking for any abnormalities in the trachea and listening to their breathing.
  • Diagnostic testing: Diagnostic procedures such as radiographs (X-rays) may be recommended to evaluate the presence and severity of a collapsed trachea. In some cases, additional tests such as fluoroscopy or tracheal endoscopy may be necessary.
  • Treatment options: Treatment options for a collapsed trachea can vary depending on the severity and underlying cause. It may involve medical management and lifestyle modifications. In severe cases, hospitalization and oxygen therapy may be necessary. When conservative measures fail, surgical options, such as tracheal stenting or surgical correction, may be considered.
  • Advanced diagnostic or treatment options:In some cases, referral to a specialist may be advised for more advanced diagnostics and treatment.
  • Follow-up care: Your veterinarian will discuss a follow-up plan, which may involve regular monitoring of your pet's condition, additional tests, or adjustments to the treatment regimen.

Your veterinary healthcare team will partner with you to decide which treatment option is best for your pet's and your family’s specific condition and situation.

Unfortunately, there are no known preventive measures to avoid a collapsed trachea in pets. However, there are a few things you can do to help manage the condition and minimize symptoms:

  • Maintain a healthy weight: Obesity can worsen symptoms, so ensure your pet maintains a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise.
  • Use a harness: Instead of a collar, use a harness when walking your pet to reduce pressure on the trachea.
  • Avoid overheating: Avoid situations that can overheat your pet, such as extended time outside in hot or humid weather, and strenuous exercise.
  • Observe breathing: Monitor for signs of breathing difficulty, including excessive panting, wheezing, gasping, or coughing.
  • Avoid irritants: Minimize exposure to smoke, strong fragrances, and other irritants that can trigger coughing or breathing difficulties.
  • Maintain a calm environment: Provide a low-stress environment for your pet to minimize episodes of excitement or anxiety that can trigger coughing.

Consult with your veterinarian for personalized advice and guidance on managing collapsed trachea in your pet. They can provide tailored recommendations based on your pet's specific needs and medical history.

Please note that the information provided here is not a substitute for professional veterinary advice. If you suspect your pet has a collapsed trachea or any other health concerns, consult your veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Nationwide® pet insurance claim example

Veterinary bill

$531

You pay only

$53

Collapsed trachea

You save

$478

Example reflects Accident & Illness plan with optional Congenital & Hereditary rider as well as the optional Cruciate rider added after the first year of coverage, with unlimited annual limit for each category with 90% reimbursement after the $250 annual deductible has been met. This plan may not be available in all areas. Pre-existing conditions are not covered. Veterinary bill amount is based on expenses incurred in the first 30 days after initial diagnosis.

Nationwide® pet insurance claim example

Veterinary bill

$531

You pay only

$53

Collapsed trachea

You save

$478

Example reflects Accident & Illness plan with optional Congenital & Hereditary rider as well as the optional Cruciate rider added after the first year of coverage, with unlimited annual limit for each category with 90% reimbursement after the $250 annual deductible has been met. This plan may not be available in all areas. Pre-existing conditions are not covered. Veterinary bill amount is based on expenses incurred in the first 30 days after initial diagnosis.

Nationwide® pet insurance claim example

Veterinary bill

$531

You pay only

$53

Collapsed trachea

You save

$478

Example reflects Accident & Illness plan with optional Congenital & Hereditary rider as well as the optional Cruciate rider added after the first year of coverage, with unlimited annual limit for each category with 90% reimbursement after the $250 annual deductible has been met. This plan may not be available in all areas. Pre-existing conditions are not covered. Veterinary bill amount is based on expenses incurred in the first 30 days after initial diagnosis.