A canine collapsing bronchus, or collapsing trachea, causes obstruction of the airway and produces labored breathing and a characteristic honking sound. This condition is a degenerative disease of the airway cartilage that causes collapse; it is a genetic disease in toy breeds and other small breed. If your dog exhibits any of the symptoms of collapsing bronchus, take him to the vet immediately for a diagnosis. This condition can become fatal in extreme cases.
A dog's trachea is a tube made of cartilage in rigid rings that extends from his throat to small bronchi passageways in the lungs. Normal trachea and bronchi stay open at all times; weakened cartilage collapses and cuts off the airflow to the lungs.
A collapsing airway is accompanied by a honking cough when the air squeezes through the small airway. Other signs include heavy breathing, intolerance of exercise, and gums with a blue tint to them, which signifies a lack of oxygen. Many things can cause the cough including eating or drinking, excitement, irritants such as smoke or dust, exercise and weather that is hot and humid.
Toy breeds are more prone to collapsing bronchus than larger dogs. Yorkies of both sexes have collapsing bronchus more often than any other breed, appearing at six or seven years of age. Other breeds infected are the Pomeranian, Chihuahua, Pug, and miniature and toy poodles. Pomeranians, Shih Tzus, Maltese, bichon frises and Lhasa apsos are also predisposed to this condition.
The treatment varies with each dog according to the severity of the collapse. Bronchodilators help to open the airway, and anti-inflammatory medications help to alleviate the pain associated with the collapse. Sedatives or tranquilizers help to keep a dog calm so there are fewer episodes of coughing and wheezing. In severe cases, surgery is necessary to implant stints to hold the airways and passages open.
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