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Collapsed Trachea in Pugs

The Pug dog is a lively and friendly breed but, unfortunately, it is also a breed that is prone to many different health problems. One of the more common conditions seen in Pug dogs is collapsed trachea. This condition can become severe if you do not seek proper treatment, so take the time to learn what this condition is and what symptoms to look for.

The Pug dog is a lively and friendly breed but, unfortunately, it is also a breed that is prone to many different health problems. One of the more common conditions seen in Pug dogs is collapsed trachea. This condition can become severe if you do not seek proper treatment, so take the time to learn what this condition is and what symptoms to look for.

What are the Symptoms of Collapsed Trachea?

The trachea is also known as the windpipe and it is the rigid tube in your dog’s throat that extends from his neck down to his chest, transporting air into the lungs. Your Pug’s trachea is made up of multiple cartilaginous rings which, unfortunately, have a tendency to weaken or become misshapen over time. When this happens, the rings themselves can actually obstruct the airway, causing your Pug to have difficulty breathing. This condition, known as collapsed trachea, is hereditary in Pugs and it can be seen in other small and toy breeds like the Yorkshire Terrier, Toy Poodle, and the Pomeranian. The most common symptoms of this condition include the following:

  • Trouble breathing
  • A dry, honking cough
  • Retching or gagging
  • Abnormal breathing sounds
  • Rapid breathing
  • Reduced exercise tolerance
  • Spontaneous loss of consciousness

In most cases, collapsed trachea is a congenital condition in Pugs – this simply means that it is present at birth and that it may worsen over time. In some cases, however, this condition can be the result of nutritional deficiencies which weaken the cartilage in the trachea or it could be exacerbated by a chronic disease involving the structures in the dog’s airway. Obesity can also make the symptoms of collapsed trachea worse.

How is Collapsed Trachea Treated?

In order to diagnose your Pug with collapsed trachea, your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical exam as well as a review of his symptoms. Certain laboratory tests like urinalysis and complete blood count (CBC) may also be taken to check for immune activity which could be indicative of an infection. In some cases, your vet may also take x-rays or perform a fluoroscopy to take real-time images of what is happening inside your dog’s chest. A bronchoscopy may also be required to judge the severity of the collapse.

After diagnosing your Pug with collapsed trachea, your vet may recommend hospitalization if your dog’s symptoms are severe. Oxygen therapy may be necessary in cases where respiratory problems are present and, in extreme cases, the dog may even need to be sedated and intubated. In more mild cases, cough suppressant medications may be administered or other drugs may be used to help dilate the airway to facilitate normal breathing. Surgery is required in some cases but, unfortunately, complications are fairly common.

Rest and reduced activity are two essential parts of the treatment and management plan for collapsed trachea in Pug dogs. Helping your dog maintain a healthy weight and avoiding over excitement will also be important. With healthy weight maintenance and reduced activity, the prognosis for this condition is generally very good.

Photo credit: Jaime González

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