By Dr. Jean Hofve
Question: What product would you recommend for my small dog with a
Answer: The trachea, or windpipe, carries air from the outside to the lungs. In some
toy-breed dogs (especially Poodles, Pomeranians, Yorkies, and Chihuahuas), a
hereditary structural defect can allow the trachea to collapse during panting or
rapid breathing. The collapse may be on either end of the trachea, but is most
common right where the trachea enters the chest. The first symptom is typically
a honking cough caused by restricted air flow, increased mucus, and inflammation
in the trachea. At its most extreme, collapsing trachea makes breathing very
difficult, resulting in severe distress and even fainting from lack of oxygen.
Left untreated, the problem will only get worse.
Collapsing trachea doesn’t usually become a problem until the dog reaches
middle age. However, even in dogs with this defect, symptoms may not be seen
until another problem comes along, such as obesity, exposure to smoke (i.e.,
cigarette smoke) or dust, respiratory infections, or heart enlargement.
Obviously, dealing with any such issues must be included in any treatment
Excess weight is the most common complicating condition in these dogs.
Changing to a canned food diet or raw food diet is an excellent way to get the
fat off while maintaining lean muscle mass. Only Natural carries a large
natural canned dog foods and
Be very cautious about exercise, since you want to avoid causing the dog to
pant, which can set off a coughing episode. While it is important to give your
dog adequate exercise in the form of calm walks, you definitely don’t want any
excitement or strenuous activity. Heat stress, dusty dog parks, and similar
environmental factors should also be avoided.
Of course, a dog with any tracheal or coughing problem should never wear a
regular dog collar, bandana, chain, or any other restraint around the neck. Use
harness instead of a standard collar to avoid putting pressure on the
Managing inflammation is the cornerstone of treatment. In conventional
medicine, steroids are a common choice, but long-term use can make the problem
omega-3 fatty acids to the diet is a safe and natural way to reduce
Stress, anxiety, and fear are the worst enemies of a dog with a collapsing
trachea. They can trigger and exacerbate the problem.
Flower essences and
homeopathy can reduce acute anxiety during an episode; and they (as well as
herbs and other calming products) can help manage the everyday stresses a
dog may face in our modern world.
Because many dogs with collapsing trachea develop liver disease over time due
to poor oxygenation, liver support is important. Products such as Super Milk Thistle X and Vetri-Science Gluta-DMG can be very beneficial for these dogs.
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