Welcome to our comprehensive guide on collapsed trachea surgery for dogs. If you’re a pet parent dealing with this respiratory condition, we understand the worry and concern you may have. Rest assured, we’re here to provide you with the essential information you need.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about collapsed trachea surgery for dogs. From understanding the causes and symptoms to exploring the various treatment options available, our goal is to equip you with the knowledge to make informed decisions for your furry friend’s well-being.

At Pawprint Oxygen, we value our readers and their pets, which is why this guide is designed to be both engaging and informative. With our expert insights and up-to-date research, we’ll demystify the surgical process, including what to expect before, during, and after the procedure.

Join us as we embark on this journey to help your beloved dog find relief from a collapsed trachea. By the end, you’ll have the knowledge and confidence to navigate this challenging situation with your pet’s best interests at heart.

Understanding Collapsed Trachea in Dogs

A collapsed trachea occurs when the rings of cartilage that support the trachea weaken, causing the airway to narrow or collapse. This condition is more common in small dog breeds, such as Chihuahuas, Yorkshire Terriers, and Pomeranians, due to their genetic predisposition. Additionally, factors like obesity, respiratory infections, allergies, and environmental irritants can contribute to the development of a collapsed trachea.

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Symptoms and Diagnosis of Collapsed Trachea

Collapsed trachea is a medical condition that primarily affects small dog breeds, such as Yorkshire Terriers, Pomeranians, and Chihuahuas. It occurs when the cartilage rings that support the trachea (windpipe) weaken, causing the trachea to collapse, making it difficult for a dog to breathe.

Here are some common symptoms of collapsed trachea in dogs:


Coughing: A persistent, honking or goose-like cough, often triggered by excitement, exercise, or pressure on the trachea (e.g., using a collar instead of a harness).

Labored Breathing: Dogs with a collapsed trachea may exhibit increased respiratory effort, especially during physical activity or in hot weather.

Gagging or Choking: Some dogs may gag or choke, especially when eating or drinking.

Cyanosis: In severe cases, where the condition is not managed or treated, dogs may develop a bluish tint to their gums or tongue due to lack of oxygen.

Exercise Intolerance: Affected dogs may become less willing to exercise or engage in physical activities due to the difficulty in breathing.

Wheezing or Noisy Breathing: You may notice wheezing sounds or noisy breathing, particularly during inhalation.

Fainting (Syncope): In severe cases, dogs may faint or collapse due to lack of oxygen.


To diagnose collapsed trachea in dogs, a veterinarian will typically perform the following:


Physical Examination: The vet will start with a thorough physical examination, paying close attention to the dog’s respiratory signs, such as coughing and labored breathing. They may also ask about the dog’s medical history and any recent changes in behavior.

X-rays (Radiography): X-rays of the chest can help visualize the trachea and identify any narrowing or collapse. However, a collapsed trachea may not always be visible on an X-ray, especially if the collapse is not severe.

Tracheal Endoscopy: This procedure involves inserting a small camera (endoscope) into the dog’s trachea to directly visualize any abnormalities. It is a more definitive way to diagnose a collapsed trachea.

Fluoroscopy: In some cases, fluoroscopy, which is a continuous X-ray imaging technique, may be used to observe the trachea in real-time as the dog breathes, helping to assess the degree of collapse.

Tracheal Collapse in Pets Pawprint Oxygen

Extended Oxygen Therapy Bundles for Tracheal Collapse

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When is Surgery Necessary for Tracheal Collapse?


Surgery for tracheal collapse in dogs is typically considered when conservative management approaches, such as medications and lifestyle modifications, are not effective or when the condition is severe and causing significant respiratory distress. The decision to pursue surgery is made on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration various factors including the dog’s overall health, the severity of tracheal collapse, and the owner’s willingness and ability to manage post-operative care.

Here are some common scenarios when surgery may be necessary:


Severe Tracheal Collapse: Dogs with severe tracheal collapse, where the collapse is extensive and causing severe respiratory distress, are often candidates for surgery. This may include cases where the dog is experiencing frequent fainting or cyanosis (bluish discoloration of the gums or tongue) due to lack of oxygen.

Ineffective Medical Management: When medications and conservative management approaches (e.g., weight management, harness use) do not adequately control the dog’s coughing or breathing difficulties, surgery may be considered as a more definitive solution.

Recurrent Respiratory Infections: Dogs with tracheal collapse may be prone to recurrent respiratory infections. If the condition continues to worsen despite medical management, surgery may be recommended to reduce the risk of infections and improve the dog’s quality of life.

Lifestyle Limitations: Tracheal collapse can significantly impact a dog’s quality of life and limit their ability to engage in physical activities. If the condition is significantly affecting the dog’s ability to enjoy a normal life, surgery may be considered to alleviate these limitations.

Owner’s Willingness: Surgery for tracheal collapse often requires a commitment from the owner for post-operative care and follow-up visits. If the owner is willing and able to provide the necessary care and monitoring, surgery may be a viable option.



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3 Types of Collapsed Trachea Surgery for Pets


Tracheal Stent Placement: This involves inserting a stent (a tube-like device) into the collapsed portion of the trachea to help keep it open and provide support. Stent placement can be an effective option for certain cases.

Tracheal Ring Prosthesis: In some cases, damaged tracheal rings may be replaced with prosthetic rings to provide structural support.

Laser Surgery: Laser-assisted techniques can be used to remove damaged tracheal tissue and improve airflow.


It’s essential to consult with a board-certified veterinary surgeon who specializes in airway surgery to discuss the best surgical approach for your dog’s specific condition. Surgical outcomes can be positive, and many dogs experience significant improvement in their quality of life after undergoing the appropriate procedure. However, surgery does carry risks, and the decision should be made after careful consideration and consultation with your veterinarian.

Getting your pet to Emergency Care: Using Pawprint’s Portable Oxygen Kits For Pets

If you are looking for a oxygen system for pets that’s designed to be mobile and transport friendly, take a look at our line of portable pet oxygen kits. Our portable pet oxygen is made specifically for getting your pet safely to an emergency care facility, in case of acute respiratory distress (ie. collapsed trachea) or to carry with you or store at home for emergency situations (ie. house fires, emergency care).

Long and Short Term Care

Our bundled Oxygen options cover your pet if they’re in need of daily/weekly care as well as emergency mobile or transport Oxygen

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