Dog Tracheal Collapse Home Support

Written by: Dr. Jean Hofve, Holistic Veterinarian, DVM

Is There a Way to Provide At-Home Support for Collapsed Dog Trachea?


What can be done for a dog with collapsing trachea?


What is a Collapsed Trachea?

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 can make breathing very difficult, resulting in severe distress and possibly even fainting from lack of oxygen. Left unsupported, the difficulty breathing may worsen.

Collapsed Trachea Causes & Symptoms

Collapsing trachea doesn’t usually arise until the dog reaches middle age. However, even in dogs with this defect, symptoms may not be seen until triggered by another event, such as obesity, exposure to smoke (like cigarette smoke) or dust, respiratory infections, or heart enlargement.

Excess weight is the most common complicating condition in these dogs. One approach is to help your dog lose weight and to minimize stressful or excitable events as much as possible. Some animals may respond well to changing to a canned food diet or raw food diet to help maintain a healthy weight.

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 symptoms should avoid wearing a regular dog collar, chain, or any other restraint around the neck. Using a harness instead of a standard collar can help avoid putting pressure on the trachea.

Supplements & Medications

Managing inflammation is very important to help maintain normal respiratory function and health. Adding antioxidants and/or omega-3 fatty acids to the diet is a safe and natural way to reduce inflammation.

Stress & Anxiety

Stress, anxiety, and fear are the worst enemies of a dog with a collapsing trachea. Flower essences, homeopathy, supplements, and aromatherapy may help manage normal stress. However, if your dog is chronically stressed or afraid, contact your holistic veterinarian to explore the best options available. Preventing stress and anxiety is not only important for a collapsed trachea but can also improve overall quality of life.

As always, it is highly recommended to talk to your veterinarian about any supplements or medications that may help control the signs and symptoms of collapsed trachea.

Additional Resources

Information in this article is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure your pet and is not a substitute for veterinary care provided by a licensed veterinarian. For any medical or health-related advice concerning the care and treatment of your pet, contact your veterinarian.