tracheal collapse in chihuahuas: a serious chihuahua respiratory health problem

chihuahua trachea collapse

many chihuahua owners email us with concerns related to their chihuahua puppies or chihuahua dogs experiencing breathing problems, more specifically frequent gagging, coughing and chihuahua wheezing and seizures that result in gasping for air. this information may be helpful to you if your chihuahua has been affected by obstructed breathing or symptoms thereof.

chihuahuas are known to suffer from problems related to their soft palate or a collapsed trachea. it is a health concern that is characteristic of the chihuahua breed and is also commonly referred to as “reverse sneezing”.

tracheal collapse is a condition in which the trachea partially collapses or flattens out as your chihuahua is trying to breath. this leads irritation and results in the gagging, coughing and wheezing symptoms we mentioned above.

the trachea airway in your chihuahua is a very sensitive area

the trachea airway in your chihuahua is a very sensitive area

the trachea is the airway from the larnyx to the main bronchi in the lungs. it looks somewhat similar to that of a vacuum hose and has many stiff rings with flexible tissue connecting them. sometimes these rings are not stiff enough and are unable to hold the trachea open against the air pressure that’s created during respiration. the portion of the trachea that is not stiff is then sucked into the airway causing partial obstruction making it difficult for your chihuahua to breath.

normal trachea vs. a collapsed trachea

the difference in a normal trachea vs. a collapsed trachea

factors that can lead to tracheal collapse in your chihuahua are obesity, irritants, allergies, repeated heart conditions, bacterial infections, viruses and second-hand cigarette smoke.

tracheal collapse can also be brought on by damage done from leash pulling, especially if you use a collar to walk your chihuahua. it is recommended that you switch to a harness to prevent any pushing or pulling against the trachea.

wear a dog harness to avoid tracheal collapse

teaka the famous chihuahua wears a dog harness during walks to avoid tracheal collapse.

if any of these symptoms develop, take your chihuahua to the vet right away. this is an important chihuahua health concern. if they are not treated, damage can occur in the lungs, larynx, nasal passages and soft palate regions. your veterinarian will provide you with the right medications and you will be able to further prevent symptoms.

a happy and healthy chihuahua is the goal, and a sick chihuahua must be properly cared for.  famous chihuahua welcomes your comments and shared experiences.

related: health issues and problems in the chihuahua breed

chihuahua breed facts:  what every chihuahua owner should know!

reference: tracheal collapse in dogs vetinfo4dogs.com/dtrachea.html
photo references: egyvetonline.com/animaldisplay.aspx?c=2&info=16
animalhealthcare.com/handouts/dogs/collapsing_trachea.htm

Comments 121

  1. Shari Williams

    When my baby gets excited he acts like he’s needing air …when he trys to breathe in when excited he sounds like he’s snoring …please help he’s four years old and I only got him 6 days ago and can’t take him to vet until the 1st of month ..

  2. Mary

    I’d like to address the remarks about lack of funds to take your pet to the vet. Most of us consider our pets to be family members, our children. Not all children are born to rich parents. Are you also suggesting that poor people shouldn’t be allowed to have children? If someone loses their job should their kids get taken away and put into foster care with rich people?
    It’s the people who bale on their pets when they get sick that causes so many of the homeless pets in shelters. They shouldn’t be left to suffer in a shelter until someone rich comes along to adopt them! That’s ridiculous!!! You love and care for them and do your best for them. The only people who shouldn’t have pets are the ones that spend their money on foolish things like $400 cell phones and going out drinking and THEN say they can’t afford to take their pet to the vet.
    I’d also like to say that I had a Chihuahua when I was a child who had these coughing spells that we thought was asthma or something and we found that if we rubbed the pads of the dogs paw during these attacks that they stopped.

  3. Renee

    I just wanted to bring to light a condition that my chihuahua was diagnosed with. My chihuahua has laryngeal paralysis which may get confused with the above conditions. His stomach would convulse in and out as he was gasping for air. To date, it has cost me around $10,000 to find this diagnosis and to treat it. If you find that you cannot figure out what is wrong, this could be the cause. My dog has had a tie back surgery to tie back one side of his laryngeal flaps to open up his airways for breathing. A bronchoscopy procedure would correctly identify this condition.

  4. VJ

    I have an 11 year old Chihuahua. Took her to the ER and had to return to the vet 2 days later due to difficulty in breathing, not eating or drinking, and listless. Our vet diagnosed her with a mass around her trachea & said it was too large to operate on because she could bleed to death or have heart failure before they could complete the surgery. My Chihuahua has been taken care of, yet I can’t save her from a growth that is taking over her air passage.
    I’m very upset with comments made on this site that if you can’t afford to take your animal to the vet, you shouldn’t have an animal! First, there are too many animals in shelters or dropped off to just ignore them. Secondly, no one takes an animal in, feeds it, loves it, and cares for it but stops to think about possible expenses when the animal is starving for food and attention. A dog or cat needs love and caring first..it may live 10 or 20 years without needing the urgent care of a vet. Not everyone can afford $500 or more in vet costs, but giving an animal love, a warm bed, and food is worth a million dollars when the animal may face certain death from starvation or being put down because of full shelters. SHAME ON YOU .. to those of you who believe a price can be put on love and care.

  5. Bea

    People really took the comment about the gum & ran with it !! Only they didn’t realize that the person was saying that they put syrup ON their gum as in- above their teeth. Gosh people. You really know how to make yourselves look dumb

  6. raquel

    i have had chihuahua for over 30 years! about 5 years ago my son made a purchase of chihuahua in sarasota fl at puppy paw. its been five years this dog struggles with breathing coughing drinking water the doctors have taken xray there saying asthma but i have never seen a chihuahua struggle so much. i would differently recommend not to get a chihuahua through a dog store!!!! i have had chihuahua have problems with wheezing before but this has been very costly for me and they still havent been able to help her they said to give her bendrayl and that does nothing for her.

  7. Veronica

    So I adopted a 2 Chi S about four years ago. They were a couple so I adopted them both. She was. about 7, he About 5. They are delightful little dogs and they love Me and eachother. I can’t think of my life without them. The problem is that the female has a collapsed trachea. I have taken her to my vet , who I think is really a good, honest vet, he gives her medication it stops for a while and it comes back. I feel so bad for her, but it doesn’t seem that there’s anything they can do other then giving her medication, giving her shots and trying to help her stop. Dr. says if she haS surgery a 50-50 chance that it work. He says that It probably will not work; she is 4.5 pounds And 11 Yo now, she might not survive. Does not seem like good odds for such a tiny dog. She gets a steroid shot about every three months, she’s been on antibiotics, had x-rays, it just keeps coming back and getting worse. This last three months she never really stop coughing. And now I’ve taken her in again for another shot and she’s now taking 2 ccs Benadryl for children 2 times daily. It’s helping – at least shE isn’t coughing every minute, and she sleeps at night. Any advise?

  8. Luis lugo

    I have a pocket chihuahua n today he’s having some attacks I don’t know why but my friend came n put siroup in he’s gum n the attack stop a little but them they come back I’m very nervous about these please I need help I’m just trying to help him I pick him up from the street n I love him but I don’t know what to do

  9. Aimyloo

    Fgs… Giving your dog gum?! Are you kidding me? Asking for home remedies for an obviously suffering dog? Take them to the vet and quit being selfish!

    My heart is breaking at all the idiotic posts made about chihuahua care, or lack thereof. I wish I could reply to each of the posts claiming they can’t afford pet care and pop them on the head. Seriously? Get them to the vet, I don’t care if you have to eat raven or have a limited income or are handicapped- I’m all of those things and I still get it done. If you can’t afford care, don’t own a dog.

  10. Aimyloo

    What’s with the owners who keep getting dogs you can’t afford care for? If your dog needs vet care for any reason, being broke is no excuse not to go. I’m broke too. Make a payment arrangement with the vet, find a clinic… But fgs, don’t let them suffer…. You’re only fooling yourself if you think they aren’t.

  11. CICI

    tHEY SEEM TO REALLY BE SUFFERING WHEN THEY GO THROUGH THIS. mY CHIHUAHUA HAS HAD X-RAYS SO THE TRACHEA LOOKED OKAY. tHE BEST THING I HAVE FOUND TO DO IS DISTRACT HIM, AND THE QUICKEST WAY IS TO ASK HIM IF HE WANTS SOME GUM! hE STOPS ALMOST IMMEDIATELY! tHEN I GIVE HIM THE TINEST LITTLE PIECE OF GUM, ABOUT LIKE TIP OF A PEN. gUM IS NOT SOMETHING YOU WANT TO GIVE THEM, BUT IN THIS CASE, IT IS GREAT FOR THIS. mAYBE SOMETHING ELSE SUCH AS OFFERING A TREAT WOULD WORK FOR ANOTHER CHI.

  12. Pat gaston

    REGARDING THE PROLAPSED TRACHAE, I HAVE A 8yr old chi that has developed this. She was a little overweight (6lbs) but we have gotten that under control, especially now that she has a new little sister that makes sure she gets plenty of exercise :-) It is true they need a harness for leash walking. Let the pretty collars be worn as jewelry. I have also found three things 1) take your baby to the vet 1st to make sure the cough u hear is p.t. 2) always wrap them up when it is cold outside. The cold will cause a coughing spell. 3) use over the counter cough medicine like Triaminic or at the health food stores you can get theirs too. Make sure to remember their size! Use an eyedropper or the equivalent and give them 1cm every 6 hours. This has helped my girl tremendously. I may hear her cough once or twice a day, some days not at all. Much better than when she was first diagnosed!

  13. Pingback: why does my chihuahua snore? how can a small dog make so much noise? | famous chihuahua

  14. dawn kintgen

    i also have a chi who has problems with non-productive coughing that usually sounds like huh-huh-huh-huh-huh- gack!! if she gets any loose hair from her body or one of the long hairs from either mine or my sons scalp in her throat she is in for quite a round of this annoying coughing. the extra long hairs from her human family are the worst so i try to vacuum as often as i can to avoid her ingesting Any hair at all. i figured out the long hair thing when she was doing her business and she had a portion of poo ‘magically’ hanging from her bum!! i realized that she had been coughing more than usual the previous day!! Like so many canines-she has to ‘taste’ everything including the floor & carpeting & anything else she thinks might taste good. despite the more frequent vacuuming she still manages to find a hair or two all the time. this is just an f.y.i. to anyone who has a precious lil dog that seems to develop a strange non-productive hacking cough that can not be medically diagnosed-i’ve had her to the vet twice for this cough and she has been tested for numerous possible afflictions yet all the tests come back negative. it is astounding how much lint and debris our tiny canine friends can find to lick and taste on a daily basis.this suggestion does not cost much in electricity. simply use a vacuum more often to at least eliminate that your dogs snuffling{that is what i call her tasting expeditions} as a cause for the dry funky cough thanks much

  15. stebbo

    Thanks for the great tips here. It all helps.
    Katie, I have just read an article by a vet who has discussed the truth about the lucrative drive behind the fear mongering of pet insurances and extremely high costs of care. The article shows how pet insurance is the mechanism for driving up the costs of medication to an absurd level, being over and above human medication. It is a massive industry which does not have animals welfare at heart. For example, ex rays are taken when they are not needed for conditions of an animal being sick orhaving diaharrea etc. Instead, time should be allowed for it to cure iitself instead of rushing in with ex rays and blood tests and more (vets know when to ex ray as a necessity). Also, a new morality has been created to keep your pet alive when it has cancer or other illnesses which require the rest of their days to be hooked up on drips, suffer the effects of chemotherapy and/or drugged to till death. The author of the article argues that this is a massive cruelty designed only as a money earner. However, the main reason for my addressing you is this: a few honest and brave vets will stand up to argue that having a pet in a loving household whom cannot afford insurance is better than the animal being put behind bars whom can afford insurances and vetinary treatment. The reason is because they are animals designed to be free whom do not moralise and whom live each happy and loving moment at a time with their pa ko, human or otherwise!!
    It has been known and documented that Some Vets Google household addresses to discern how much money they can squeeze out of their future middle class areas for regular visits and on going unnecessary treatments.!!!! Further, they ones that back up insurance companies are the idiot brigade, such as yourself I presume, whom leave their pets at home for hours on end causing great trauma to their lives – heavy deppression in a lot of cases, and thereby a whole genre of odd behaviour there owners do not even see because they are out earning money to ever get to know their own pets!!!!!!!!

  16. warren

    my chihuahua lOLA IS SIX AND WE HAVE TAKEN HER TO THE VET. SHE HAS A SOFT PALATE (NOT A collapsed TRACHEAL. WE HAVE HER X-RAYS. SHE HAS A COUGH WHEN SHE GETS EXCITED AND SOMETIMES FAINTS. BUT THEN QUICKLY REGAINS consciousness. tHE VET SAYS THERE IS NOTHING THAT CAN BE DONE BECAUSE OF HER SIZE ( SHE IS 5 LBS). SHOULD WE GET ANOTHER OPINION? WE LOVE HER SO MUCH AND WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT WE CAN DO AS MUCH AS possible FOR HER.

  17. Kelly

    My Chihuahua has a tracheal collapse. She has been on several different medications none of which have helped her even a little bit. She is now on antibiotics which has not helped her at all either. I’ve been to the specialist emergency twice, charged $700 and we are getting nowhere fast. Everything I have read has said that tracheal rings are a bad idea and stents are used more recently. However stents only last up to a couple of years and one veterinarian said he never saw a dog live past one year after having stents inserted. My dog is only nine years old but she has had this issue since she was a puppy because she had pneumonia and a collapsed lung chamber. I really believe that this is a congenital condition which is prevalent in smaller breeds because they are over bred with this weakness. When you take two small dogs with this problem and you breed them you are breeding more sick dogs. My dog has always had this honking which would happen every once in a while and then sometimes last four hours but it would always go away. Now that she is nine years old it is chronic and I think the best thing for me to do for her is to let her go. I don’t want her to suffer and I don’t want her to go through an unneeded surgery that will just put her through more pain and not last long enough for her to have a quality life. Reverse sneezing and tracheal collapse are two completely different things. Do you not get them confused.

  18. Felecita Mata

    my 3 lb.applehead has been panting for 5 days.he has water come out of his nose sometimes and he holds his front legs outward.his stomach looks like its full and hanging sort of.his appetite is good water intake as well i know the best thing is to take him to a vet but i cant afford one i care a great deal for my baby. i had him since he was 3 weeks old. bottle fed him and he sleeps with me 24/7. please help me what can i do at home for him. can i give him antibiotics or somethung here at home i might have? please give me some ideas.

  19. Katie

    i am an avid chihuahua lover my boy Jack passed away 3 years ago this April at 14. My girl jilly will be 16 in June. Im sorry but it really turns my stomach reading most of these posts. So many of you can’t afford to take your pet to the vet. If this is the case you have no right having one in the first place!!!!! Granted there are so many animals who need homes but if you are not capable to properly care for an animal then you have no business keeping one!! That is beyond selfish!!! Because they are “so cute” or “no one loves you like they do” that’s what all domestic animals give ~ unconditional love. THAT DOES NOT GIVE YOU THE RIGHT TO KEEP THIS HELPLESS CREATURE!!! Shame on you!!!!

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