Tracheal collapse is generated by weak cartilage rings that flatten during breathing. This incident then causes the animal to have a “honking” type cough. Subsequent inflammation Trachea illustration and production of mucus increases thefrequency and severity of the cough. Other clinical signs can include retching and in severe cases respiratory distress, progressing to a loss of consciousness. Exercise, obesity, heat, humidity, and secondary respiratory infections can cause an onset of clinical signs. Normally, signs occur from middle age onward. It is believed there is a hereditary factor that predisposes many toy breeds to this dysfunction.
Collapsing trachea is diagnosed by a history of clinical signs and radiographs. A bronchoscopy can be used to rule out collapse caused by a foreign body and to grade the severity of collapse.
Clearing up secondary infections with antibiotics can sometimes resolve clinical signs. Treatment of a tracheal collapse may include cough suppressants and short-term steroids to decrease production of mucus. In addition, weight loss and the use of a harness for leash control can prevent and/or decrease clinical signs. There is varying success with surgical correction of a tracheal collapse. Each case has to be evaluated individually to determine if surgery will be beneficial.