tracheal collapse in chihuahuas: a serious chihuahua respiratory health problem

nadia chihuahua facts, chihuahua health concerns 162 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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the amazing ebook, caring for chihuahuas made easy, breed information, health care and nutrition teaches you about common chihuahua health problems and how to properly care for such a small dog!  it also teaches you how to extend the life span of your chihuahua!

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 162

  1. Alan J Balmer

    Chops’s success story!

    Five months ago, we had never heard the term tracheal collapse. Since that time, our six pound Chihuahua, Chops, experienced a 100% improvement from this disease.

    Chops was coughing and wheezing … his overall health was deteriorating. He had lots of energy and his life-force was high, but he was struggling. Initially, years ago, his veterinarian at the time diagnosed his problem as allergies. Later, another veterinarian said he had a symptom called reverse sneezing. A year later, another veterinarian thought Chop’s problem stemmed from his vaccination history, and started him on a detox program. Finally, after his condition worsened, the last diagnosis to Chop’s dilemma indicated he was suffering from tracheal collapse.

    According to the American College of Veterinarian Surgeons, tracheal collapse is a chronic, progressive, irreversible disease of the trachea, or windpipe, and lower airways (main stem bronchi collapse). The trachea is a flexible tube and, similar to a vacuum cleaner hose. It has small rings of cartilage that help keep the airway open when the dog is breathing, moving or coughing. The rings of cartilage are C-shaped, with the open part of the C facing upward. In some dogs, the C-shaped cartilage becomes weak and begins to flatten out. As the roof of the trachea stretches, the cartilage rings get flatter and flatter until the trachea collapses. The collapse can extend all the way into the bronchi (the tubes that feed air into the lungs), resulting in severe airway compromise in your pet. If you look in the blog section, attached is a full description of tracheal collapse by the American College of Veterinarian Surgeons.

    By the time Chops was evaluated, approximately 40% of his trachea had collapsed. I attached a video taken during the worst stretch of this problem. You can hear him struggling for air as he went on one of his daily walks. (I then attached a follow-up video a couple of months later, after I had confirmation from his veterinarian of his progress.)

    About three months prior to the video where Chops began walking again without wheezing, Alan and his wife Joy began giving him Life-force blessings. Alan and Joy had been studying this procedure since 2010, and realized that this was the time to begin to treat Chops. At the same time, his veterinarian prescribed a cartilage boosting supplement in hopes of thickening and strengthening his trachea, along with some dietary changes to Chop’s eating habits.

    Chops had his first follow-up evaluation one month later and his veterinarian said it appeared that the degeneration had stopped and his overall cartilage condition was indicating approximately a 10% improvement. According to her diagnosis, this was significant and not very typical after such a short time span.

    Alan and Joy continued the Life-force blessings and reached out to other colleagues who were also studying on this same program. He found nine additional practitioners willing to work with Chops and administer Life-force blessings on a remote basis from all around the United States.

    In total, Chops now had ten individuals administering these blessings to him on a daily basis.

    His second follow-up was exactly one month following his first evaluation. This time, his veterinarian estimated his overall improvement to be 60%. She also tested the percentage of his trachea that was collapsed and found that to only be 30% collapsed, which was down from her original finding of 40% one month earlier.

    The only way to express the significance of this evaluation is to go back to the American College of Veterinarian Surgeons definition to understand that trachea collapse is considered by the veterinarian profession to be an irreversible disease with no known cure.

    Chops had his third follow-up with his veterinarian, one month after his last evaluation. The latest estimated overall level improvement in his cartilage consistency was 90%. The percentage of his trachea that was collapsed as of April 16, 2018 was slightly less than 20%.

    Success continued with the fourth follow-up visit too. Again, after another month, on May 16, 2018, the overall cartilage consistency improved to 98% and the percentage of his trachea that was collapsed was approximately 9%, down from slightly less than 20% one month earlier.

    Several months later, Chops’s improvement was diagnosed as 100% and our veterinarian told us we could even stop giving him the cartilage boosting supplement he was taking.

    Here is Chops wheezing. I recorded this and sent this to his vet to help diagnose the problem.

    Here is Chops two months later. If you listen carefully, there is no wheezing … This was taken after he had been diagnosed with about a 60% improvement.

  2. Sierra garcia

    So I’m hoping someone can help me here find peace. I just lost my 7 year old long haired apple head Male. He was soon to be eight. The night before I lost him he seemed to be breathing a little heavy, nothing alarming, he ate all his food, and felt ok enough to try instigating my other long hair who is 4 years old. Then he started coughing alot. He would cough here and there everyday. I thought his allergys where just bothering him. So I gave him the allergy meds from the vet, they said to give in emergencies. I figured if he was still acting a lil funny I would take him to the vet in the morning. But again nothing alarming or that he hasn’t done before. I woke up to a traumatic experience my poor baby, my best friend, was barely breathing on the floor. I rushed him to the vet, didnt make it , said he died before he made it there. I payed for autopsy nothing. I’m left with a broken heart guilt and the loss and pain of him not being there. With no answers as to what happened.

  3. DAVID C.

    I do complete background searches of any and all of ANY medical practice that is involved with my family. Regarding my Chihuahua, I recently switched to a Veterinarian that has the ability to do ultrasounds! This is somewhat unusual for Vets around here and I had to shop around to find one that was not going to beat my wallet silly too. I found that there is a “traveling Doctor” that visits this area, the various doctors, per a schedule BUT she also has a “floating scale” of charging!!! My former Vet was going to charge me $500 for the event but after shopping around I found another extremely well qualified Vet where the fee by the same provider is to be $340.00!! Now, I also have been carrying “Dog Insurance” for some time so I’m not out of pocket the whole cost but my point is that if your pet is getting older the crappy excuse of, “well, she’s just getting old and just like you and me…” garbage does not work for me – I WANT FACTS not excuses. And be forward with ANY medical practitioner — THEY WORK FOR YOU, you are their boss. I’ve fired attorneys, doctors, and now a Veterinarian as I continue to not be victims of their apathy or complacence. I’m 71 years old and intend to double that age (*chuckle*) and the same goes for my pets and family. Sorry for the digression but I always see people on various sites “wondering if” but never knowing what to do. Look for a Vet that will is UP TO DATE with the newest information, is respectful to you and not just doing “10 minutes and on to the next patient” (like human medical providers TRY to pull on me), will “hand check” the WHOLE ANIMAL when it comes in for it’s appointment and not just focus on one target area, can provide discounts to those who are Seniors, or otherwise, even payment plans – but PAY THEM NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS, and I’ve even had Vets that will call AFTER a serious situation to telephonically check on the animal’s status.

  4. Howard Bessette

    My 4 lb male long coat, Nacho, is 10 years old. He had cervical spine surgery at a year and a half for pinched spinal cord from being born without a little bone called the “dens” that keeps the spine connected. He was paralyzed from his “elbows” down in all four legs. After getting 6 pins in his cervical spine he could move only his eyes and tongue for a few weeks. He was walking with a little hitch in his gitty up after weekly therapy sessions at the hospital and four times a day at home after six weeks. He can’t feel where his left paws are so slick surfaces and stairs are a problem for him, but he gets around well otherwise. A few months ago he started sneezing which has progressed to gasping for air when he falls asleep. He starts making a high pitched sound which becomes a honking noise before he jerks awake gasping. It has progressed to the point of happening every time he falls asleep. The vet hasn’t a clue. He put him an antibiotic which did nothing. It sounds to me like collapsing trachea. When he’s awake he breathes fine. Neither of us has had much sleep in the last week. Has anyone else experienced this with their baby?

  5. 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.

  6. 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 🙂

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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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