The trachea (windpipe) is an impartially rigid tube that brings air into the lungs of the dog. It is made up of cartilage rings, which can become weak and deformed over time, causing breathing obstruction. This genetic order is very common in small breeds like the Pomeranian and is called tracheal collapse.
Symptoms: Although tracheal collapse is hereditary, the signs of collapse are not apparent in many dogs until middle age.
Dry coughing (honking or seal barking), which grows worse when they are lively (eg. when exercising) or excited. These coughing sessions often cause edema (swelling). When there is swelling within the trachea, it results in respiratory distress and perhaps even death.
Diagnosis: Tests are required.
Chest X-rays: To determine the location of collapse, whether it is in the throat section, or within the chest area of the windpipe.
Bronchoscopy: An endoscope (long, flexible tube with a light and camera) is placed directly into the trachea under anesthesia. The procedure is best as it provides a direct visual examination to determine the severity of the tracheal collapse.
- Cough suppressants to reduce coughing, as each cough builds inflammation within the trachea.
- Anti-inflammatory steroids (Inhalers) can help break the vicious cycle of inflammation and coughing. Inflammation within the trachea boosts additional coughing, which causes more inflammation.
- Bronchodilators to make breathing easier.
- Antibiotics to clear bacteria normally.
Surgical Procedure and stenting (tube to hold open airways) is the other option to be considered if the above medical treatments fail to provide relief from the signs of tracheal collapse.
As always, in cases of doubt, take your dog to a veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment.