Tracheal Collapse in Dogs

Tracheal collapse may sound like an emergency, but it is actually a common condition that many dogs experience. Although it isn’t an emergency, it does require veterinary care and management.

In the article below, you’ll find more information about canine tracheal collapse including the risk factors associated with it, the signs and symptoms of the condition, and treatment options for your pet. Read through our internal animal hospital‘s article to find out more.

tracheal collapse in dogs

Risk Factors of Tracheal Collapse in Dogs


Your dog’s breed may play an important role in her predisposition to tracheal collapse. Generally, small dog breeds are more affected than large breeds. Dogs like Pomeranians, Papillons, and Pugs, for example, may be at a higher risk of this condition.


Older dogs are more prone to developing tracheal collapse than younger dogs. This condition is considered one that is often associated with aging in canines.


If your dog suffers from severe allergies or asthma, she may be at an increased risk of tracheal collapse as well. Not every dog with allergies or asthma will experience tracheal collapse, but the chances are much higher in dogs who already have these issues with their respiratory systems.

Other Underlying Health Problems

If your dog has any other underlying health problems, especially those that affect the mouth, nose, or throat, she may be at a higher risk of tracheal collapse as well. A weaker throat or weaker body overall may make it more likely for your dog to experience this condition.

Symptoms of Tracheal Collapse in Dogs

Breathing Trouble

Dogs who are dealing with tracheal collapse will sometimes have trouble breathing. This symptom does not occur in every case of tracheal collapse, but it happens with many of them. Note that trouble breathing as a sole symptom can be associated with many other problems, too, so your dog needs to see a vet right away if she has a sudden change in her breathing.

Frequent Harsh Coughing

Harsh coughing is by far the most common symptom of tracheal collapse in dogs. This cough sounds very dry, and it does not produce any phlegm (although some dogs may vomit or spit up a little from the force of the cough).

Frequent Wheezing

Wheezing is also associated with tracheal collapse in dogs. A dog who has a persistent wheeze, especially shortly after eating, may be showing signs of early to moderate tracheal collapse and needs to see a vet for a diagnosis.

Worsening of Symptoms with Activity

Dogs who have symptoms that get worse with activity—even mild activity, such as running around the living room for a moment—may have tracheal collapse. However, a worsening of symptoms with activity is also a sign of heartworm disease, so it’s crucial to have your pet checked out and diagnosed properly by a vet to find out for sure.

Treatment of Tracheal Collapse in Dogs

Cough Medication

For mild cases of tracheal collapse, dogs may get the relief they need simply from taking a daily cough medication. By keeping the cough under control, the symptoms of tracheal collapse are lessened overall, and the condition does not generally grow worse for a long time.


If your dog is in the middle of a severe flare-up, they may need to take a round of steroids to help their body recover. Steroids can also cut down on inflammation caused by persistent coughing, which can in turn reduce the risk of coughing even more. Pets cannot take steroids all the time, so they must only be given when symptoms are more severe.


Sometimes, pets need to be given a mild sedative to help them stay calm during coughing fits. Dogs who are already a bit anxious by nature may be likely to experience elevated anxiety when they can’t stop coughing. Unfortunately, this anxiety usually causes the tracheal collapse symptoms to worsen, which leads to more coughing, and creates a cycle of symptoms.


Finally, some dogs may suffer so badly from tracheal collapse that they require surgery to repair the problem. This surgery involves placing stents to keep the dog’s trachea open. It can be risky, so talk to your vet for more information.

Our Interventional Radiology Specialist is Here to Help with Tracheal Collapse in Dogs

Tracheal collapse can be difficult to manage, but with the help of the right specialist, it doesn’t have to be. By working closely with your veterinary team, and following recommendations for your dog’s needs, you can help her live a long and full life while managing the symptoms of her tracheal collapse.

Remember to always follow your vet’s guidelines when it comes to the health of your dog. If you have any further questions or concerns about this condition, please reach out to one of our three Atlantic Veterinary Internal Medicine & Oncology locations.