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Tracheal Collapse in Dogs… Symptoms, expectations and Costs

Tracheal collapse is a fairly common occurrence in dogs. That said, when it happens it can be scary – after all, that’s how your dog breathes! If you think your god has had a tracheal collapse, here’s everything you need to know.

What is Tracheal Collapse in Dogs?

The trachea is the pipe in the neck that helps mammals breathe. It’s made of cartilage rings (tracheal rings) that are joined together. As a result, sometimes, the rings collapse – this is a collapsing trachea.

Why does it happen?

Veterinarians and scientists still really aren’t sure why it happens. Some say it’s a birth defect, but that’s just a theory not a fact. Others say this is a genetic condition.

Certain Breeds at Risk for Tracheal Collapse in Dogs

The reason some believe it’s a genetic condition is because it’s exponentially more common in toy breeds like Yorkshire terriers. Other small breed dogs are also at risk.

Clinical Signs & Symptoms of Tracheal Collapse in Dogs

Since the cartilage rings are collapsing, the first sign you’ll see is that your dog is having breathing problems or a constant cough or honking cough. If he sounds out of breath, asthmatic, or worst-case scenario, even starts turning blue, then you may be witnessing a tracheal collapse. Any of these can be further provoked or worsened by:

  • Exercise intolerance,
  • Obesity,
  • Certain foods,
  • Drinking.

Diagnosis of Tracheal Collapse in Dogs

Coughing that sounds like a goose honk particularly in small dogs is a big sign. A veterinarian may go just off this or he/she m ay want to find a definitive diagnosis. If so, he/she may want to see if bronchial collapse has also occurred. The vet may recommend a fluoroscopy to see the dog’s full trachea including the cervical trachea. The vet may also want to test the function of the lungs to rule out any other conditions that cause breathing problems.

Your vet will…

Will usually also want to see if the tracheal lumen has been impacted as well as if there is laryngeal paralysis. Both of these things can happen when the rings of cartilage collapse. If either has happened, it will impact the treatment plan.

Treatment of Tracheal Collapse in Dogs

Most of the time the treatment includes basic medications, in particular, cough suppressants or possibly steroid therapy. This is known as medical management.


This depends on how much of the airway is closed off. If the dog is really struggling to breathe, then a tracheal stent may be necessary. Stent placement isn’t that easy and doesn’t always work. About 25% of tracheal stents are unsuccessful. A stent will be recommended only in severe cases.


The vet will start by trying medical therapy, and if it is unsuccessful, then he or she will move on to a surgical option.

If the dog is obese, the vet will most certainly recommend a diet.

Which brings us to…

Were we like to remind folks that we here at IndulgeYourPet are not doctors, veterinarians or medical professionals.  All we are is a bunch of folks who just happen to be passionate about animals and only want what’s best for them.

This is why…

If you feel like your pet may have tracheal collapse (or any other health issue for that matter) the first thing that you’re going to want to do is have him or her check out by a vet ASAP!


The truth is, an early diagnosis will often lead to the “best” medical outcome for your pet regardless of what is bothering him or her, but beyond that diagnosing a medical condition early could save you a bundle in medical costs!

Cost of Tracheal Collapse in Dogs

We know this is the hard part – discussing the cost of health care for a loved one (yes, your dog is your loved one), is difficult, but it’s a reality. You do want the treatment, but you’re going to have to pay for it…

Well, if it’s only a matter of medical management, then it will be the cost of medication. However, if you have to get your dog surgery, then it’s going to be a lot more.

Let’s compare the average prices:

Medication + vet visit: Less than $300

Surgery: Less than $2500


You’ll only know if your dog needs surgery after part one – the medication and vet visit.   So, combine the prices. If you’re a normal person, shelling out $300 on the spot can put you in a bind and shelling out $2000+… that can really cause major problems.

This is why…

We here at IndulgeYourPet also recommend that any new pet owner take a moment and see what it might cost for you to purchase a pet insurance policy for your new animal.

Now will a pet insurance policy be right for everyone?

No, probably not.  But until you fully understand what these policies “will” and “won’t” cover and how much these pet insurance policies cost, how will you know if one might be right for you?

For more information on who we feel currently offers the “best” pet insurance policies out there, we would encourage you to check out our Best Pet Insurance Policies article.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Jerry February 10, 2021, 5:41 pm

    Thank you for the info. I’m sure my yorkypoo has it so now I want to find the best form of treatment without going too far.

    • indulgeyourpet February 10, 2021, 6:08 pm


      Sorry to hear about your little guy, we wish you and yours the best!



  • Richard M September 11, 2021, 11:09 pm

    We seen a vet but no medication as of yet
    My biggest concern is if I find him having a hard time breathing or not getting enough air is there anything I can do Immediately and of course I would be rushing him to the vets just scared if he’s not getting enough air he may die before I get him there

    • indulgeyourpet September 13, 2021, 11:20 am


      We fully understand your concern, and it sounds like you are do all you can to insure the health of your loved one. Our advice would be to continue to consult with your vet and let them know they concerns you are having. As non-medical professionals, it would be inappropriate to advice anything else.

      That said, however, conventional wisdom suggests that the “squeaky wheel often gets the most grease” so be sure to continue to let your vet know how concerned you are about your furry companion.



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