tracheal collapse in chihuahuas: a serious chihuahua respiratory health problem

famous chihuahua editor chihuahua facts, chihuahua health concerns 157 Comments


many chihuahua owners email us with concerns related to their chihuahua puppies or dogs experiencing breathing problems, more specifically frequent gagging, coughing and chihuahua wheezing and seizures that result in gasping for air.  this article 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”.

chihuahua trachea collapse

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 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 trachea friendly dog harness to prevent any pushing or pulling against the trachea.

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.

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below is a sample page from the section of tracheal collapse!

 tracheal collapse in chihuahuas

trachea friendly dog harnesses

reference: tracheal collapse in dogs
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Comments 157

  1. Trish

    My 9 year old Chihuahua does this. She is 4lbs never wears a collar and is the only dog now since my 17 year old Chihuahua just passed in December. I am a bit scared to take her to the vet due to when I took my last one there nothing helped her and they didn’t tell me she was sick really they said she had a heart murmur and allergies and then boom she died right after her meds were done. So I’m a bit traumatized and fear that taking in my other dog will only be the same result. What can I do. I know she does this snorting like it’s hard for her to breathe, and I just gently hold her until she is calm but sometimes she does this and then actual sneezing. I’m at a loss. My last vet trip put me in a 700$ debt that I didn’t expect (that I’m still paying for). So any help would be great.

  2. Lisa Matthews

    @Susan: I am So Very Sorry to hear about your loss of Jasmine. I cannot imagine what you went through during those hours alone, no one returning your call, worrying, etc. Sometimes really lousy things happen in life…I guess that’s all I can say. That and I wish things could have been different for both you and Jasmine.

    My Chi, Petie, is 14 and was diagnosed with a collapsing trachea a long time ago. Thankfully it doesn’t seem to have become any worse. He does the reverse sneeze thing when he’s just finished his daily walk. I have always done animal rescue & believe deeply in spay and neuter. Unfortunately, Petie slipped under the radar and because of my mother’s illess back in NJ, we were travelling around the age or time that he would have normally been fixed. I knew he would NEVER get out and never get the chance to breed. He had a raspberry-type sore in his urethra from his uhm, zeal for female dogs. (a lot of ppl moving into my area are immigrants – they haven’t gotten to the spay & neuter mentality yet). This made Petie crazy of course (and very happy lol). But the constant excitement caused this sore which filled with blood and burst…wasn’t the biggest deal in the world but it had to be removed and sown up. At that time our vet suggested neutering him. I didn’t want to mess with his testosterone levels at age 13 but with the trachea, I didn’t want to see him go under again. The bottom line: Now he has replaced his zeal for female with FOOD!!! I used to have a hard time ‘getting’ him to eat. Now he’s a little piggy~!! Insatiable! Im terrified he’ll get heavy or heavier and it will lead back to the trachea and/or heart problems. Trying cooked carrots and thinly sliced apples. We’ll see how it goes~!

    So hey…I was really struck by your post. I wanted to tell you how sad I am that you went through that unnecessary drama and that you lost Jasmine. May God be with you and give you the peace, inspiration and guidance you seek. Jasmine is safe and painfree now. I know she would want her mamma happy.

    God bless….and thank you for sharing your experience.


    Lisa & Petie the Chihuahua 🙂

  3. susan

    Jasmine was my 14 year old Chihuahua: about 1 1/2 years ago, she began to have what I describe as seizures, crying out with heart wrenching screams, falling to the floor and getting rigid with a look of panic on her face: FOUR Vets I had taken her to: two said that they were due to her number 5 heart murmur (she had been on Vetmedin and Enalapril for several years), one said that it was panic attacks, but had no clue why she panicked, and neither did I. When she was with me during these times, I would softly talk to her and she came out of it after about 30 seconds. I did not know about the tracheal collapse and finally, the fourth vet said that maybe it was that. She began to get worse with “age”, not walking well, I carried her outside for bathroom uses, she stopped eating four days before she died and on the night before I had to take her to be euthanized by the Vet, she screamed, cried, howled all night. I called three vets who were on “emergency” call and not one returned my phone call, it was not until 10 hours later after trying to unsuccessfully console her, and her barking and screaming lasted until she crossed the Rainbow Bridge. I guessing that her loud behavior was possibly trying to get more breath into her little body? I am at peace knowing that she knew she was loved to no end and that she is resting comfortably now.

  4. Bre Taylor

    Is long stringy mucus coming from my 8 mo. old chihuahua/Pit bull mix part of this? My dog is a rescue and she was diagnosed with upper respiratory infection 2 x since July 2017 and had antibiotics and she doesn’t cough as much now but in the last week has had this mucus issue. I take her out to potty and when shes sniffy a lot she will sneeze and here it comes so thick I need to help her remove it from her nose. This is the second vet I’ve had her to and worried as to what could be the issue and remedy here. She is so young.

  5. Kathleen

    My dog does what I call is the reverse sneezing. After reading this I am now worried its something more. Is xrays the only way for them to know & does it stay collapsed or does it go back & forth. My dog is a Chi-Shit-zu mix.

  6. Pat C

    I have a long hair chihuahua that is currently 11 years old. It was about 5 years ago that I thought I was going to loose her. We were out of town so we rushed her to an emergency vet. The vet took X-rays and showed a collapsed trachea. If you think your dog has this issue please don’t second guess. This is a physical issue. Don’t let obesity in your pet compound the issue. Use the proper halter/leash set up. Medication does not correct the problem. Love them. My pup has more problems when excited. The thunder shirt helps to keep her calmer. I still try hard to make sure she has an amazing quality of life. Don’t over medicate.

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