May dog has a collapsing trachea or another problem?


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Our question this week was:

I was wondering if you know anything about collapsing trachea? I have a toy poodle and she never really has breathed comfortably. She has had a few seizures and has some attacks that point to collapse trachea. We went to the vet and put her on some Claritin. She doesn't have her attacks anymore, but her breathing still doesn't sound right. I have done much research online and think she may have something caught behind her soft palette, possibly a grass seed. What do you think?

Claire Downhour


Hi – thanks for your email. Poodles are predisposed to Tracheal collapse so it may be that is the problem. Generally the cough from tracheal collapse is a very characteristic "goose honk" type cough. Tracheal collapse is diagnosed based on history, physical exam findings, history of characteristic goose honk type cough, X-rays, fluoroscopy, and/or tracheobronchoscopy.

As you mentioned, dogs can also act abnormal or cough from foreign bodies caught in their soft palates. For example, some dogs will have reverse sneezing.

If you really think your dog has another condition besides tracheal collapse – discuss this with your vet. If your vet does an exam or radiographs to diagnose the collapsing trachea it is possible to evaluate for foreign bodies as well. However, if there was really a foreign body, I would not have expected the Claritin to help.

An article that might be helpful to you is Tracheal Collapse in Dogs.

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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debra-primovic Dr. Debra Primovic

Debra A. Primovic, BSN, DVM, Editor-in-Chief, is a graduate of the Ohio State University School of Nursing and the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine. Following her veterinary medical training, Dr. Primovic practiced in general small animal practices as well as veterinary emergency practices. She was staff veterinarian at the Animal Emergency Clinic of St. Louis, Missouri, one of the busiest emergency/critical care practices in the United States as well as MedVet Columbus, winner of the AAHA Hospital of the year in 2014. She also spends time in general practice at the Granville Veterinary Clinic. Dr. Primovic divides her time among veterinary emergency and general practice, editing, writing, and updating articles for, and editing and indexing for veterinary publications. She loves both dogs and cats but has had extraordinary cats in her life, all of which have died over the past couple years. Special cats in her life were Kali, Sammy, Pepper and Beanie.