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Hints and Tips for Collapsed Tracheas

Following on from my earlier blog on Living with a Dog with A Collapsed Trachea, I have had lots of messages and questions, so I have written another blog to hopefully answer these. Please feel free to ask questions on anything I may have missed. Please note throughout this blog I will refer to the collapsed trachea as CT.

True to the disease, both Tommy and Nacho have got worse since the last blog, however, both are happy, play and live fulfilled lives even though they have CT. What is important to remember that what works for one dog won’t necessarily work for another as all dogs react differently. For example, Nacho’s CT makes him honk and cough when he’s playing, running or excited and he can generally still function. On the other hand, if Tommy gets overexcited, he will struggle to breathe and sound more strained. Nacho has also experienced episodes of fainting when overexerted, but he also has another respiratory tract illness called Laryngeal Paralysis.

Exercise and Play

Your dog will still want to exercise and play with a CT, and although you will have to make changes, your dog can still enjoy their life. All of my dogs are walked on lightweight harnesses with a padded chest strap. Collars should not be used to walk your dog as they apply pressure to the trachea. Some harnesses also put pressure on the trachea, so look at how it sits on your dog. The straps on the harness should be wide, and not come anywhere near your dog’s throat at all.

Nacho is still keen to walk and will want to go every day if I let him, however in damp or humid weather, I give it a miss as this makes his cough worse. The same goes for very hot weather because he will pant more and therefore cough more. We also avoid hills as from experience, this makes him cough more and on one occasion, he has fainted.

Games such as fetch and tug are a no-no in our house due to their coughs, but calm games with gently rolling a ball to the dogs, or playing with a teddy with Tommy still go on. Gentle games with your dog will still stimulate your dog’s brain, but just bear in mind your dog’s limits as this will vary.

A soft place to sleep

All of my dogs have memory foam beds, and I have a few different designs for them to choose where they want to sleep. Tommy’s bed has raised sides and he uses it as a pillow and this helps him breathe easier. You could give your dog a pillow or rolled-up blanket in their bed to allow them to raise their head if needed.

Coupage

Coupage needs to be done by a trained professional, so it’s important you ask your vet about this one. Basically, using cupped hands and tapping your dog’s side, it can help lift mucus that is sitting on the chest and clear the airways. Mucus can build up when your dog coughs excessively or if they have an infection. Please do not try this yourself, but ask your vet if your dog is a good candidate.

Medication

Your dog will be different to my dogs, so please ask your vet what is best for your pup, however, I will say what medication Tommy is on so you can discuss it with your vet.

Tommy has codeine which is a cough suppressant and painkiller. He really hacks up sometimes and I like to know he is having something to help with what must bring a sore throat. Tommy has had many heart scans and is on medication to stop the buildup of fluid on his chest from the excess coughing. He is on two inhalers and one is a bronchodilator, which helps to open his airways. Tommy has the inhalers via a child’s spacer, however, there are special doggy inhalers on the market.

The last medication he is on for the CT is an anti-sickness medication called Cerenia. I know, I know, it sounds weird but when my vet and myself reached a standstill on what more we could do for Tommy, I did a lot of research, I found out that Cerenia has been trailed for other ailments, and something in Cerenia helps suppress the cough. Your vet may not be keen to give your dog this as there have been no long term studies on the effects on this medication if given all the time, however, I personally feel quality of life is the most important thing and if this medication stops his cough, that’s what I want to do. You may find that you just want to give the Cerenia if your dog is having a bad day. Any medications you give must be given under the direction of your vet, and it is important to see your vet regularly so they can help look after your dog.

Remember, your vet is there to help you. Taking your dog for regular check-ups will help catch this early. Tommy has been prone to chest infections and Nacho even caught pneumonia. Find a vet you can talk freely with and you trust.

I hope this blog has been helpful. Please share to help others.

For more informative blogs, read this blog on Living with a Blind Dog.

11 Comments

  1. Camila

    Thank you so much for sharing! My dog Angelina has CT and sometimes she struggles so much to breath it breaks my heart. She took codein before, but now the vet gave her a steroid called stanozolol and flixotide inhaler. She has a grade 4 CT, but I don’t know wether to operate her or not, since she’s ten y-o.

  2. Joanne

    Thank you so much for this post. My dog, Justus (Maltese, 7 yrs.), has recently been diagnosed with CT and I am frantically looking for ways to help him live the best life possible. Your blog has given me the best and most practical advice I’ve found. You’ve also given me hope that this diagnosis is not a death sentence and that we might have a few more years together. Bless you for taking the time to do this. It’s much appreciated.

  3. Sandra Felano

    Thank You for sharing your experiences with Collapse trachea, My little chihuahua has this I am beside myself now trying to do what I can for her she’s 12 years old and I had her since she was 8 weeks old love her with all my ♡

  4. Linnie Tochtrop

    When the dog is having an attack, can’t breath what is the best thing to do? Mine sounds like she is screaming until she calms down.

    • Anna Garbutt

      The best thing to do is to keep calm and try and calm your dog. I find stroking Tommy’s throat gentle when he coughs bad can ease the spasms. Talk to your vet to see if there are any meds you can try.

  5. Brenda Coote

    Thank you you so much for this very informative blog. My Cinta (11yr old pom) was just diagnosed with CT. I have been reading up on so much but found your blog very helpful. I will be asking my vet about more options now that I read this. My girl and I thank you again.

  6. Lisa

    Thank you for your blog it is very helpful. My baby boy Nino is 11 years old and has severe CT. He has been put of medications and a sedative to help him breath and cough syrup. This has been so scary and heart breaking watching him struggle for air and i’m constantly watching over him to make sure hes still breathing. Aside from the ct, Ninos blood work came out very good and no heart problems, He is over weight and I’m trying my best to get him to loose weight. Nino’s ct is very severe and I’m afraid of loosing him and wondered if it is to dangerous for him to have stents put in? His vet mentioned him having surgery and I said no at the time because i was worried about him surviving it. But this could be the only final thing to prolong his life. Any advise? I love him with all my heart and this is killing me!

    • Anna Garbutt

      Hi Lisa. I am so sorry to hear about Nino, it’s such a horrible condition and it’s so hard to see them suffer. In regards to the stent, that’s something only you and your vet can decide. You could try a weight loss diet first and see if that improves the CT before deciding about surgery? Excess weight will put extra stress on his body and will make it harder for him to breathe, even if he didn’t have CT, so I feel that’s a good first step. If you are finding it hard to get Nino on a diet, many vet’s offer free weight loss clubs, perhaps it’s worth speaking to them to see if they can offer you any more support?

      • Lisa Dewey

        Thank you for your reply and I will talk to my vet today. Nino has not been able to sleep the past two nights . He’s seems to be gasping for air it’s extremely hard for him to get comfortable. And when he exhales his whole body contracts with every breath. I feel so helpless!!

        • Anna Garbutt

          Oh gosh, that sounds horrible. Poor Nino.

  7. katherine compton

    thank you for your insightful information. we all love our dogs so much and you have helped me to know some different ways to manage his illness. God speed to all of you!!!! xoxo kathy

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