A collapsed trachea, also known as a tracheal collapse, is a condition in which the walls of the trachea (windpipe) become weak and collapse inward, making it difficult for air to flow through the airway. This can be caused by a number of factors, including chronic coughing, obesity, and certain breeds of dogs that are predisposed to the condition, such as small and toy breeds, and brachycephalic breeds (short-nosed dogs) like Pekingese, Pugs, and Shih Tzus.


It’s important to note that a collapsed trachea is a progressive condition that can be managed but not cured, therefore early diagnosis and treatment is important to improve the quality of life of affected pets.

5 Common Signs Your Pet Might Have Collapsed Trachea

1. Coughing

A dog with a collapsed trachea typically produces a cough that is often described as a “goose honk” cough. This distinctive sound is due to the airway being compressed or narrowed, which leads to an unusual, high-pitched cough that resembles the honking of a goose. It’s important to note, however, that each dog may exhibit slightly different symptoms, and the intensity of the cough can vary. In any case where a dog is showing signs of respiratory distress or an unusual cough, it’s always advisable to consult with a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.

2. Shortness of breath

Dogs and cats with a collapsed trachea may have difficulty breathing, especially during exercise or when excited.

3. Gagging or choking

A collapsed trachea can cause gagging or choking, especially when the dog is eating or drinking.

4. Blue or gray gums

Lack of oxygen (or hypoxia) can cause the gums to turn blue or gray, which can be a sign of a collapsed trachea.

5. Weight loss

Dogs with a collapsed trachea may lose weight due to difficulty eating or breathing.

dog in pet oxygen chamber

How can I help my pet with collapsed trachea?

Treatment for a collapsed trachea in dogs typically includes medications to help open up the airway and reduce inflammation, such as bronchodilators and corticosteroids. Your veterinarian may also recommend coughing suppressants to reduce coughing and prevent further damage to the trachea.

It is also important to address any underlying causes of the collapsed trachea, such as obesity and brachycephalic breeds (short-nosed dogs) which may be predisposed to this condition.

Other important measures include:

  • Keeping the dog at a healthy weight to reduce pressure on the trachea
  • Avoiding use of a collar and instead using a front harness when walking the dog,
  • Keeping the dog’s airway clear of smoke and other irritants
  • Avoiding activities that may cause the dog to become excited or stressed, as these can worsen symptoms


If your dog has or might have a collapsed trachea, being careful with their collar is crucial for several reasons:

1. Pressure on the Trachea: A traditional neck collar can put direct pressure on your dog’s trachea (windpipe). In healthy dogs, this pressure is typically harmless, but in dogs with a collapsed trachea, it can exacerbate the problem, potentially leading to increased coughing or difficulty breathing.

2. Exacerbating Symptoms: The pressure from a collar can worsen the symptoms of a collapsed trachea, such as inducing more frequent or severe coughing episodes. This can be uncomfortable for your dog and can potentially lead to further damage or complications in their airway.

3. Increased Risk of Injury: Dogs with a collapsed trachea are at a higher risk of injury from pressure around their neck. Sudden tugs or pulls on the leash, especially if the dog lunges or jerks, can cause significant harm.

4. Alternative Options: To mitigate these risks, many veterinarians recommend using a harness instead of a traditional neck collar. A well-fitted harness distributes pressure more evenly around the dog’s body, reducing stress on the neck and trachea. This can help in managing the condition more comfortably and safely for your dog.

In some cases, surgery may be necessary to repair the trachea or to remove any tumors or other growths that may be blocking the airway. It’s important to follow your veterinarian’s treatment plan and keep all follow-up appointments to ensure the best outcome for your dog.

Will Oxygen Therapy help my pet with Collapsed Trachea?

Oxygen Therapy can be beneficial for a pet with a collapsed trachea for several reasons:

1. Improved Oxygenation: The primary goal of oxygen therapy is to increase the level of oxygen in your pet’s bloodstream. In conditions like a collapsed trachea, where the airway is narrowed or obstructed, the lungs may not be able to effectively oxygenate the blood. By providing supplemental oxygen, you’re ensuring that vital organs, including the brain and heart, receive enough oxygen to function properly.

2. Reducing Respiratory Distress: Pets with a collapsed trachea often experience difficulty breathing, which can lead to respiratory distress. Oxygen therapy helps ease this distress by reducing the effort needed to breathe. When it’s easier for your pet to breathe, it can also help calm their anxiety, which is often heightened when they struggle for air.

3. Preventing Hypoxemia: Hypoxemia, or low blood oxygen levels, is a risk in pets with severe breathing problems. Oxygen therapy helps prevent this condition, which can be dangerous and lead to complications like organ dysfunction.

4. Support During Crisis: In acute crises, where a pet with a collapsed trachea is in severe distress, oxygen therapy can be a life-saving intervention. It provides immediate support to the respiratory system while other treatments or stabilization efforts are underway.

5. Enhances Recovery: For pets undergoing surgery or other treatments for a collapsed trachea, oxygen therapy can aid in recovery by ensuring that tissues are well-oxygenated, which is essential for healing.

Below are the most common methods of administering Oxygen to your pet with Collapsed Trachea:


bunny in oxygen cage

1. Oxygen Chamber

This is a cage that is equipped with an oxygen supply, like an Oxygen Concentrator, which the pet can breathe in while inside the cage.


oxygen mask for dogs

2. Oxygen mask

This is a pet oxygen mask that is placed over the pet’s nose and mouth, and is connected to an oxygen supply like portable oxygen canisters or a concentrator


Pawprint Oxygen Concentrator for Pets

3. Portable oxygen concentrator

A portable device that can be used to provide oxygen to the pet when traveling or when the pet is outside of the home. Typically used in conjunctions with a pet oxygen cage or oxygen mask.


Oxygen therapy can help to improve the pet’s breathing and overall well-being, and can also help to reduce the risk of secondary conditions such as pneumonia. It can also help to reduce coughing and improve the pet’s appetite and energy level.

What is the life expectancy of a pet with a Collapsed Trachea?

The life expectancy of a pet with a collapsed trachea can vary depending on the severity of the condition and the effectiveness of treatment. In mild cases, treatment with medications and lifestyle changes can help control symptoms and improve quality of life. In more severe cases, surgery may be necessary to repair the trachea or to remove any tumors or other growths that may be blocking the airway.

It’s also important to note that some pets that have other underlying health conditions, such as heart disease or chronic bronchitis, may have a shorter life expectancy.

In general, a dog with a collapsed trachea can live a normal life span with proper management and treatment. However, it’s important to work closely with your veterinarian to develop a treatment plan that is tailored to your pet’s specific needs and to monitor your pet’s condition closely.

It’s also important to keep in mind that not all collapsed tracheas are the same and some cases are more severe than others, so the life expectancy will vary depending on the individual dog.

Diagnosis and Treatment for Collapsing Trachea in Pets

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