tracheal collapse in chihuahuas: a serious chihuahua respiratory 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

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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

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Comments 110

  1. Post
    Author
  2. Angela

    When ny chihuahua gets excited it sounds like she is snorting. She only does it when she is excited. Is this normal for a chihuahua to do this?

  3. Ann Dodwell

    My name is Ann …..I am not a breeder but i have 9 chihuahuas and well 6 of them are puppies and my two males are a 9months old well …… I have a question about why they starve them selves when my female is in heat …..One of them is a deer and the other is an apple head …….could the types of breeds they are be the reason for that

  4. Martina

    My little blue haired chihuahua, Toby, has had this “backward sneezing” condition for his entire life. He is five. I always thought that it was a hairball. It happens about once a day. My Vet told me it could be due to allergies, because he gets redness around his eyes and sneezes quite a bit…it’s cute when he sneezes. I am worried about his trachea. Thank you for posting this. The backward sneezing doesn’t seem to bother him. I think I’ll get a second opinion if it gets worse or I see that he is bothered by it. Thanks again…great website!

  5. rachel v

    Hi! I have three chihuahuas 2 of which we found lots and scared without tags. I’ve had them now for about a year an a half,don’t know how old they are but they are, my other chi is about ten years old she suffers from skin allergies since she was giving to me as a pup by a neighbor that couldn’t keep her. Anyways my other chi one male one female both started coughing and hacking , just weeks apart would love to take them to a vet but they are so expensive that i once had to pay 80 dollars to put down a sick puppy so little he was smaller than my hand that put me back. I had to go without real food for a while only Top Ramen was all i could afford. I don’t want my animals put to sleep it’s the hardest thing to do but going to the vet is to expensive. I can’t even afford my medications for myself. I’m 41 and I do have low cost medical check-ups but can’t afford my meds and i need dental work done bad. Yes my husband has dental insurance but still is expensive. So that leads me back to my babies i want them to get better, but taking two of them would be more expensive and we can’t afford it what to do?. I love them but money is so tight we barley make it as it is not to ad on more bills I don’t visit the doctor myself. If any one knows of a home cure for coughing please help!. I don’t want to see them hurt nor suffering like that. They’re still to young by the way my male chi is named Rusty and my female Baby cause she’s the youngest the elder chi her name is Chica her last owner named her that. Thank for reading and hope to her from anyone soon. Rachel from S.A, Tx.

  6. vi

    Johnny, here’s a website which might answer some of the questions you have veterinarypartner.com

    I doubt there’s any free vets, but there are those who may only charge for vaccines, but not the office visit.

    Here’s some websites to low-cost vets. Hope this helps.
    westmobilevet.com
    luvmypet.com

  7. Johnny

    I live in powder springs, Ga, Thanks for letting me know about the rubbing the throat thing. As long as iv been living i never heard of dogs needing shots every year. when the was i think 6-8 weeks old i went to a place where they sell parvo shots and in it they also have the other vaccines and one shot cost about $8 so yes they had 1 of them shots.

    So i guess i need to buy more of them and give them another shot lol. ill work on that. that is something i can manage but takes alittle time to get the money.

  8. vi

    Johnny, what city do you live in?

    At the very least I hope they are receiving their yearly vaccinations. There are several places that offer low or no cost vaccines.

    The snorting is most likely reverse sneezing. Just rub their throat, from throat to chin and that usually helps.

    As for questions 2 and 3 I couldn’t tell you, as I don’t have experience in any of those areas.

  9. Johnny

    I really have A LOT of questions. But to start off i have 3 chihuahuas and they are all females. They all have been making a sound like they are forcing air out there noses. like they are trying to blow there noses and some times it sounds like a snort when they do it. Is that what your calling reverse sneezing?

    2nd question is my oldest is i think about 7-8 years old and if you stand her up on her back feet then look down and look at her very bottom last nipple on the right it looks like it has a growth in side it the size of a golf ball. you cant put to much presser on it or it will hurt her. Some times the swelling in it goes down some but never away. Some times her whole bodie will be cold and there will be a blue tent on the bottom of her. This has been going on for about 3 years now if not 4 years. Do you have any idea what that growth might be? Remember that its on the inside so you cant see what it looks like or if its doing anything. It the size of a golf ball on the inside of her. I really need to know what it is.

    3rd question is do albinos have a hard time seeing? and do albinos cost more or cost less then the plain types?

    Thats all for now and thank you for your replys. I know what your going to say about the 1st and 2nd questions about taking them to the vet and belive me if i had the money i would not be here asking these questions. I have NO money at all and iv not had any for the past 5 years. I take care of my grandparents and they have about 5 dogs there selfs that they cant take to the vet. We do a good job of keeping them safe and keep them fed. But thats all we can do and thats all i can do for them. Im here all day and i give them all my love all day long and i keep them fed but no money at all and theres no way i can get any to take them to the vet. Is there any type of place like a free clinic for animals that im able to take them to? Theres no way in the world i could ever have them put to sleep. I have to much faith to do that. These dogs act like they love me more then my own family members so theres no way in the world ill take that away from me. So is there any free place i could take them? Any ideas?

  10. T.K.

    I want to add ~ that the only change to the medication that I wrote about is Baby Boy, no longer takes hydrocodene, and in its place is the Torbugisc Pain Control Elixer, along with the other medication’s that I wrote about…There have been changes on those med’s, by how much to give and how often.

  11. T.K.

    I hope that I can let my experience help some of the writer’s above, who have issues with the coughing from their beloved chihuahua’s…I have a 12 year old 3 pound chihuahua…..His coughing was persistent….Identical, to what “Marcy” was describing….My vet, gave me a referral, to a specialist that dealt with matter’s like this….After a chest x-ray, my chihuahua named: Baby Boy, had an enlarged heart….The specialist has Baby Boy, on Vetmedian, Lasix, Spironlatin, Enalapril, and Hydrocodene….Your vet, should take an x-ray to determine if the heart is enlarged….I get Baby Boy checked constantly due to the fact, that his mother, passed away from heart failure….A few weeks ago, his cough came back, and I was concerned that his heart was failing, and learned from another x-ray from a cardiologist for dogs, that his trachea was collapsing…..I have discontinued the hydrocodene and he is now on 0.2 or 0.4 CC orally of Torbugisc Pain Control Elixer….

    This is my experience ~ I would like to add:
    The hydrocodene that I give Baby Boy, is made up from an Apothecary Shop, which makes up the powder especially for animals….It isn’t the same type of narcotic that humans take, and please do not give your chihuahua any medication that your vet, hasn’t approved of.

    I hope this helps someone out there.

  12. vi

    For Champa, at 16 I doubt your vet would risk operating on him. I had a chi who was under treatment for his trachea and chronic bronchitis. He was put on Aminophylline which was 21.00 for 90 pills, and once a year he’d be put on antibiotics. If Aminophylline is what your vet chooses your chi will appreciate it. It really helps a lot.

  13. jenny

    hi marcy my dog has the same problem im sooo sad i feel hopeless the vets i took him tell me the same thing .what can we do!! can my dog pass away if untreaded

    jenny

  14. champa buddhipala

    Dear Editor,

    Can you please let me know the oral medication for trachial collapse in chihuahuas. My Chihuahua has this condition. I do not want him to undergo surgery. He is 16 years old.

    Regards

    Champa

  15. Sandra

    My chi is 3.4 lbs, 1-1/2 years old. He developed an upper respiratory infection when my daughter got a new puppy from the Human Society. After 2-1/2 weeks of illness, 3 antibiotics, cough meds, and several trips to vet, he is finally recovering. He has always had fits of ‘honking’ when excited due to collapsed trachea, which we could easily help him through, but now he is have fits of breathing difficulties where he expands his ribs to the point of his chest bursting (it looks as though they may), and he is making a horrible sound as he tries to breath. We can’t help him through it any more either…it will sometimes last 2-3 minutes. It’s very disturbing to see him go through this. He still has a runny nose and is not over his illness. Do you think that this will go away as he continues to get well, or will this probably stay the case for him?

  16. Post
    Author
    famous chihuahua editor

    Hi Marcy, have you tried taking Jake to another vet to get a second opinion? Try phoning first to let them know your situation and then see what they say. I know the vet can get costly but this is his health. Also have you tried removing him entirely from your home out of that environment to see if he still gets a cough?

  17. Post
    Author
  18. MARCY

    OH AND IS THE PICTURE OF THE BROWN CHIHUAHUA ABOVE THE POOR DOG THAT GOT THROWN OUT OF THE CAR WINDOW? I BELIEVE HER NAME IS PRINCESS… POOR GAL

  19. MARCY

    HI THERE

    FIRST OFF I HAVE TO TELL YOU THAT YOUR WEBSITE IS GREAT! I HAVE 3 CHIHUAHUAS MYSELF AND I THINK ITS GREAT THAT YOU HAVE ALL OF THIS INFORMATION ABOUT THEIR REVERSE SNEEZE & HOW AND WHY THEY CAN HAVE A TRACHEAL COLLAPSE. THIS INFO IS & CAN BE VERY HELPFUL TO NEWER OR CONFUSED CHIHUAHUA OWNERS, BUT UNFORTUNATELY NOT TO ME :( I HAVE A BIGGER ISSUE… I HAVE A 6LBS LONG HAIRED PURE BREED CHIHUAHUA WHO IS A LITTLE OVER 4 YEARS OLD AND STARTING MAYBE 7 MONTHS AGO IDK IT COULD HAVE EVEN STARTED A LITTLE LONGER THEN THAT. HIS NAME IS JAKE, NOW JAKE STARTED OFF WITH THE OCCASIONAL GAG HACK COUGH, ALMOST LIKE A CAT TRYING TO COUGH UP A HAIR BALL BUT HE IS A LOT LOUDER. WHEN THIS FIRST STARTED HE’D ONLY DO IT ONCE OR TWICE A DAY AND THE COUGH WASN’T SO LOUD SO WE KINDA THOUGHT NOTHING OF IT. THEN AS TIME WENT ON HE DID IT MORE FREQUENTLY LIKE A FEW MORE TIMES A DAY. NOW WHEN HE’D DO THIS HE’D ALWAYS BE AT REST, NOT ASLEEP BUT LAYING ON MY BED OR IN ONE OF THE DOG BEDS WIDE AWAKE. SO AFTER A FEW MONTHS WENT BY I STARTED TO GET NERVOUS BC MY OTHER 2 DOGS WEREN’T DOING THIS ONLY JAKE. SO I CALLED THE VET & JAKE WENT, THE ONLY THING THE VET COULD TELL ME WAS THAT HE HAD TRACHEAL MELASIA BUT OTHER THEN THAT THEY COULD NOT MAKE HIM GAG AND EVERYTHING ELSE ABOUT HIM IS GREAT. SO I WAS PRETTY MUCH LEFT IN SHOCK BC I KNEW THERE IS SOMETHING NOT RIGHT ABOUT JAKE WHETHER THE VET SEES IT OR NOT. SO JAKE COMES HOME STILL DOING THE SAME THING SO I’M PISSED BC I’M WORRIED THAT ITS IRRITATING HIM OR MAYBE HE COULD BE IN PAIN AND CANT EXPRESS IT TO US. SO MY MOM & I TRIED SOME OF OUR OWN THINGS TO SEE IF IT’D MAKE ANY TYPE OF DIFFERENCE. SUCH AS INSTEAD OF SLEEPING WITH THE AIR CONDITIONER ON, I’LL TURN IT OFF (HE SLEEPS WITH ME) NO DIFFERENCE SO I HAD HIM SLEEP IN MY MOMS ROOM, NO CHANGE. WE TRIED EVERYTHING WE COULD THINK OF CHANGING BUT NO MATTER WHAT WE CHANGED HE STILL WOULD ACT THE SAME. AS TIME WENT BY NOT ONLY WAS HE JUST DOING IT WHILE HE WAS RESTING, HE WOULD KEEP ME UP ALL NIGHT GAGGING HACKING AND COUGHING, SO MUCH TO THE POINT WHERE JAKE & I WERE NOT GETTING ANY SLEEP. I FEEL SO BAD FOR HIM BC I KNOW THAT IF IT WAS ME DOING ALL THAT, I’D BE SUPER ANNOYED AND I WOULDN’T BE SURPRISED IF HIS THROAT WAS KILLING HIM! SO JAKE AND I STILL HAVEN’T GOTTEN A GOOD NIGHTS SLEEP IN MONTHS. I’M 24 AND PARALYZED & THE REASON WHY I’M TELLING YOU THIS IS BC I CANT GET UP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT TO GIVE HIM A DRINK IF HE NEEDED ONE. MY FAMILY HAS NEXTEL PHONES & THE REASON WHY I’M TELLING YOU THAT IS BC IF I NEED MY MOMS HELP I JUST BEEP HER TO WAKE HER UP SO SHE COULD COME IN MY ROOM TO HELP ME. SO AS TIME WENT BY I HAD TO START BEEPING HER IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT TO GET JAKE SOME WATER, WELL SHE STARTED TO GIVE HIM A LITTLE OIL SO THEN WHEN SHE’D BRING HIM BACK TO BED IT DID HELP HIM FROM GAGGING COUGHING AND HACKING BUT ONLY FOR A CERTAIN PERIOD OF TIME. NEEDLESS TO SAY I STARTED BEEPING HER ALMOST EVERY NIGHT SO JAKE COULD HAVE SOME OIL, BUT LIKE I SAID, IT ONLY HELPED HIM OUT FOR A PERIOD OF TIME. SO THEN JAKE MY MOM & I WERE ALL NOT SLEEPING AND MY MOM WORKS FULL TIME SO SHE WAS GOING TO WORK SUPER SLEEPY. AFTER A WHILE THE OIL STOPPED HELPING AND HE WAS GETTING WORSE, NOW WHEN I SAY WORSE I MEAN HE WAS DOING IT MORE & MORE AND HE WAS GETTING LOUDER WHEN HE’D DO IT. SO I TOLD MY MOM THAT WE HAVE TO TAKE HIM TO THE VET AGAIN, NEEDLESS TO SAY THE VET SAID THE SAME EXACT THING!! ITS SO FRUSTRATING, WELL TO CUT THIS NOVEL A LITTLE SHORTER, HE HAS STARTED TO GAG HACK & COUGH NOT JUST AT NIGHT ANY MORE, HE’S BEEN DOING IT ALL HOURS OF THE DAY. NOW I KNOW WHAT A REVERSE SNEEZE IS AND THIS IS NOT WHAT HES BEEN DOING AND WHEN I SAY THAT JAKE DOES THIS GAGGING HACKING COUGH ITS NOT LIKE HE DOES IT ONCE IN AN HOUR, ITS MORE LIKE HE DOES IT EVERY 1-2 MINUTES UNLESS HE IS SLEEPING AND SOMETIMES IT EVEN WAKES HIM UP FROM A SOUND SLEEP. I TRULY WANT TO TAKE HIM TO THE VET AGAIN BUT ITS SO EXPENSIVE JUST TO HEAR THE SAME THING I PAID TO HEAR TWICE ALREADY. I EVEN GOOGLED “CHIHUAHUA COUGH HACK GAG” AND I’VE READ A BUNCH OF STORIES ABOUT OTHER CHIHUAHUA OWNERS WHO’S DOG DOES SOMETHING VERY SIMILAR, BUT I HAVE NOT A SINGLE STORY WHERE SOMEONE ELSE’S DOG IS SIMILAR TO MINE. YOU SEAM VERY EDUCATED WHEN IT COMES TO THIS SO I WAS HOPING THAT YOU COULD GIVE ME SOME WORDS OF WISDOM. I’LL APPRECIATE ANYTHING YOU’LL THROW AT ME.

    THANKS AGAIN
    MARCY PAIVA

  20. Post
    Author
    famous chihuahua editor

    Hi there. Yes there are medications you can give to your chihuahua for a collapsed trachea but you must take them in to see a vet first to make sure that they have the condition and what medications they will require. Please make an appointment for your chihuahua to see a vet ASAP. Thanks!

  21. Herb Angel

    Are their any medications I can give my 10 year old chihauhau for collapsed trachea

  22. Post
    Author
  23. Angel Scott

    My 10 month old has developed this for the last month after having pneumonia. The vet said to give her Robitussin DM 1/4 tsp. Will this go away? She has never been on a leash.

  24. Patti

    Finn is 2 years. Once in a while he will sneeze or cough in a spastic way. I sprayed the rug with pet odor and stain remover and by the ebd of the day he was sneezing, coughing and gagging non stop! this has been going on 2 days. My husband stayed home from work today to take him to the vet. Now I know why he coughs so much. I won’t spray hair spray, perfume, cleaners ets when he is around!

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