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May dog has a collapsing trachea or another problem?

By: Dr. Jon Rappaport

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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


Answer

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. Jon



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