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. Dolores Dulaney

    My Chihuahua at 16yo had the stent put in he had collapse a few times from not getting enough air.. The surgery was very expensive the stent alone they told me was 1400.$. But I had to do whatever I could.. He was also on a lot of meds after for inflammation& a heart condition.. However one nite when I had been gone most of the eve w/ grandchildren he ha a late supper & at two am woke me vomiting w/ a lot of mucus. By the time I got him to the vet he said there was not much he could do for him. He recommended putting him to sleep. I was so upset to this day I never found out what happen.. He was gone 1 mo. Before his nineteenth Bday. This vet had told me the surgery had a low success rate , but not knowing what happened to him I don’t know if it was from the stent or not. He had the surgery at Cornell Vet hospital in Ny.. and they seemed to think he did fine… It is horrible when they leave us..

  2. Elena G.

    ED FERRETT WOW!!! I don’t even know where to start with your comment! The so called “dog haters” passed a mandatory spay/neuter law in the LA area because our close to 30 animal shelters surrounding Los Angeles, kill THOUSANDS of dogs every month! First of is the pit-bull, followed by the Chihuahua! So these so called dog haters didn’t pass the law to punish you or anyone else BUT to reduce the amount of animals entering the shelters just to be killed! That should make sense to anyone that has some common sense. If you don’t believe it, please visit the Downey, Carson, Baldwin Park, or Lancaster shelter just to name a few. You can pretty much sit in the parking lot and watch people drive by to dump their animals just like it’s drive through. Dumping them because they are too old, because the family moves and doesn’t want to take them, because there is a new baby on the way, because they don’t want to pay for vet bills and the list goes on. The most horrific one I heard was that the female dog (it was a Chihuahua) was dumped at the shelter because her owners said she was a slut and kept getting pregnant! I don’t even know what to say to that! So so those are the kind of people your so called “dog haters” are dealing with. Irresponsible, ignorant and uneducated beyond belief! Feel free to pick your category Ed! And now let me ask you this since you had unspayed and unneutered Chi’s at your house. How did you prevent them from having puppies? Or did they just have puppies over and over and you sold them or gave them away, contributing to the problem I’m talking about above? You understand that one female Chi can have between 2 – 18 puppies per litter, right? So let’s just say she has 6 and they are all given away unaltered. That means these 6 puppies will VERY soon be reproducing and if each of them only has 6 puppies, that’s already 36 Chihuahua babies. Now imagine they get pregnant twice, three or four times! You do the math.
    Oh and I forgot to mention that A LOT of people breed on purpose to make some extra money. Especially around Christmas time. The rejects are mostly dumped in the streets, the shelters, or have to live a life of misery somewhere discarded in a backyard. These so called backyard breeders don’t know what they doing and oftentimes brothers impregnate their sisters, fathers their daughters and so on. BUT the backyard breeders don’t care because they just want to sell them for $100 – $1000, depending on the demand.
    MAYBE Ed, this gives you a bit of insight in what’s going on and WHY we have a mandatory spay/neuter ordinance.
    Now in regards to you saying your dogs died because they were spayed/neutered. Don’t even get me started…just go ahead and google it. Plenty of pages and studies that proof exactly the opposite. Dogs with trachea issues should be fixed!
    I have 4 Chihuahuas ages 18, 16, 8 and 6. The girls are spayed and the boys are neutered. My now 18 year old was pulled from a high kill shelter where she was dumped at 10 years and replaced by a younger model. She was also spayed when she was 10 and there has NEVER been an issue with her. In fact she is the healthiest of the bunch and still going strong. Both my younger Chi’s have trachea issues. The girl is 8 and was tied up in a backyard most of her life. The neighborhood was horrific and she was fed cheap grocery store dog food or table scabs IF they thought of feeding her. I was told her punishment for getting out of the yard once in a while was having them drag her back on her ears. Just picture that for a moment. I rescued her when she was 4 years old and she is the most fragile of all. Sick all the time and don’t even try to touch her ears. She will scream. She has a collapsed trachea among quite a few other things. And that’s NOT because she was spayed, but because she never got any medical attention in her life, including vaccines. And because she never received appropriate food or supplements to assure she will be a healthy dog.
    I went on here because I’m still searching for more information in regards to collapsed trachea to make sure I can give my babies the best possible treatment. BUT when I saw the nonsense you posted, I had to comment.
    I am very very sorry you lost your babies, but there are hundreds of factors that could have been the cause. So please educate yourself before making such silly comments…

  3. Susan Morgan

    Shayne Kwarteng-
    Good afternoon. I am VERY interested to learn more about the “ring surgery” procedure; by the way, congratulations on a successful outcome!
    Five years ago , my beloved Sweet Pea was put to rest due to a collapsed trachea that wasn’t able to be corrected because there were no procedures \surgeries for this issue.
    Recently, my Chiweenie, Foxy, has been “reverse sneezing” more and more frequently with the same symptoms associated with collapsed trachea.
    Your post has turned my devastation into doable-thank you x infinity! I do have some questions I would like to ask you if possible.
    I look forward to hearing from you and thank you again Susan Morgan

  4. Paula H.scarpelos

    My chihuahua has also has check your problems my veterinarian wants to give her 8 pills at 1 today for $50 I cannot afford that that’s $200 a month I am on SSI so my husband Googled it and you can buy a three to four month kit for tracheal problems online also they have one for $65 that also has something for them being so nervous all the time

  5. Audrey

    My sweet little Chi Chi is 13 years old. Last November he started coughing. First the vet said it was kennel cough. Did not give him any meds. It got worse and worse so I switched Vets. The new vet. did xray and said he has chronic bronchitis in his lungs. He has been on meds. for 1 year on and off. It gets better than worse, especially at night. He is on bronchilator and cough tablet, and steroid twice a week. It has really gotten worse in the last month especially at night. The dr. said all I can do is keep him comfy. I am very upset and I can’t bare the thought of anything happening to him. I keep praying that he gets well. When he is coughing he goes and stands at the end of the bed and wont lay down, and when he does lay down he still coughs. Im glad to see I am not alone with everyones comments. He takes 1/4 of tablet of tussigon for cough and liquid theopholline for bronchiltor. Anyone have suggestions for cough relief?

  6. Dolores

    MY little Chihuahua is now 11 years it started on and off 1 year ago. Itvhscgotten to the point she sound like a goose and loud. I change her collar to a body harness so it doesn’t choke her and walk her early morning to help with her weight gain.
    I hope this helps her it scares me to see her like this.a baby to me and losing
    I can’t afford any type of surgery so theses are just a few things that I can do for her.I can’t beat the thought of losing her.she is my baby.

  7. Shayne Kwarteng

    I have an 11 year old 4.8 pound Chi that recently had a collapsed trachea, and had surgery to correct it. Instead of the stent, he had the rings put in to fix the problem. He is doing well, except for some lameness that has just started. Except for the lameness, everything else is the same, even him still thinking he is a pit bull. The vet that did his surgery said that the surgery he had has a high success rate. If memory serves me well, he said more like 80%. It is expensive though. I had dog insurance, but they don’t cover a collapsed trachea of course. But my Bandit is worth every penny. I have a question, does anyone have or know of a Chi suffering from front feet that seem to fall flat and spread out, making it difficult to walk? Thanks

  8. kristi kent

    my baby was just diagnosed what can i give her to stop this coughing its driving me crazy?!

  9. Marjorie Jamieson

    My little Minki,has been diagnosed with this and my vet,has put him on a puffer with a inhalation ,two puffs twice a day,he doesn’t like the inhaler over his muzzle ,so I make sure I have a treat ready for him.He is seven years of age and I adopted him three years ago
    Poor little mite also has seizures and has medicine for this also.
    I call him my “little gold nugget ” as he keeps me poor.Lol
    But I love him to the moon and back.

  10. elaine

    my 1 yr old has done this sinse ive had him from 9 week old ,i mentioned this to the vet and was told its just a thing these dogs suffer from hell be fine , he seems to do it most when hes giddy like when hes going out to play it last for a few seconds then hes fine ,i didnt know what it was so thankyou

  11. Lee McCumber

    My little girl passed away 1 year ago on October 3rd, one month from her 15th birthday. When this happened I took her to a vet and had to wait for 3 days to have the xray read, my Baybie suffered for 3 days, passing away in my arms the morning before taking her back to get the results read. I feel the vet should have known what she was suffering from. I am still so angry reading this article realizing what she died from and that the vet should have been able to give her meds. Reading this has brought back the pain of that morning.
    I was bessed to have her the time I did. 2 months ago a family member gave me a little long haired chi she is as sweet as she can be, she has not replaced Baybie but I am blessed agian with Sunshine.

  12. Andie

    I have a 5 year old chihuahua-yorkie with a collapsed trachea. He has been taking medication but it is not improving. I have heard that there is a surgery for it but my vet said the success is less than 50% and its too much for a small dog. Is this true or are there any other options?

  13. Wendy

    I have a long hair apple head chihuahua shes only 16 weeks i gave her a bath last night dried her really good and we went to sleep the air was on she woke up around 6 am coughing and gagging and im worried what can i give her or will it pass??

  14. Tracy Robinson

    My jackawowa is 4 months we AV had her a month and since getting her she does a small dry cough which at same time comes with a sort of choking moment my friend sed it could just be as she is a pup prone to chewing and eating on anything she can get mainly fluff she’s cheating her throat the vet were her puppy plan was sed at minute not to worry but looking it up and reading comments on here I’m a bit worried any advice from any1 it happened to wen there’s was a puppy

  15. Pamela Haupt

    I have a two year old mix chihuahu toy rat terrior mix.. I first started noticing him taking his toung and thrusting it like he had a dry mouth.. When he drinks water he gets chocked and throws up a some of it… Now he has started doing the reverse sneezing…. At times it’s like he’s about to collapse…. I will rub his throat that seems to help.. His name is Pettie he weighs 6Lbs. It is truly scary seeing him do this… I don’t know what to do but take him to the vet… But I want a vet that understands this condition and knows how to treat it properly… I live in Birmingham , Alabama… Could anybody help me with information who would be the best vet that I could take him to and truest he will get the proper treatment…. He’s my buddy!!! I LOVE HIM so much… My daughter died less than a year ago. I can’t take looking him too…. Please someone help US😞

  16. Fay

    My Angel is 11 yrs old. She started coughing about 3 mos. ago. At first we thought it was allergies and thought it would pass. After a month we took her to our regular vet who diagnosed her with Congestive Heart Failure and gave her some Enalapril and Lasix. She did not seem to be getting any better. I held her one night until 3:30AM like a baby trying to stop the coughing. The next day I looked up a Cardiology Veterinarian on the internet and took her to him. He did a lot of tests and showed me x-rays with the collapsed trachea that my Angel had. He, also, told me that she did not have CHF, but, she did have a heart murmur. He looked at the medicine that our regular vet gave us and said what was labeled Enalapril was not Enalapril and said the other was not lasix and that she did not need lasix. The Cardiology Vet gave me a bottle from his office which is a cough suppressant and another with Prednisolone plus a prescription that I had filled at the pharmacy for Enalapril. The pharmacy Enalapril looks like what the regular vet said was Lasix. Needless to say I’m going with what the Cardiology Vet says. Her coughing usually starts in the evening with short jerks and then the loud coughing. I pick her up and rub her gently in the trachea area. Having a heart murmur would probably keep her from having surgery. All of her blood tests came back good. I have started feeding her an holistic diet which I hope will help a little. She gets really hot when the coughing starts. I am handicapped and she sleeps with me and has most of her life. She follows me everywhere. I don’t want to lose her. The Cardiology Vet gives me hope for another 3 or 4 yrs. We go back in a few days to the Cardiology Vet for a check up. I don’t see her getting any better or any worse. I really hope the lung bleeding doesn’t start. One thing that I don’t understand is that she started losing her ability to immediately stand on all four legs when she gets up when the coughing started. Her front legs will spread out to her sides. It takes a few minutes for her to get her balance. The Card. Vet checked her legs out, but, could not find a reason for her legs spreading out like that. I try to make sure that her legs are together when she gets up and that she gets her balance. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. She is walking on the same floor that she has walked on for years. I have removed her collar. We have a fenced in yard and I watch her when she goes outside. Does anyone know of anything else I can do for her? As little as she is we really cling to one another. Thank you.

  17. sheila sims

    Thanks for the information.very much appreciated. My baby does the same thing. Thanks again.

  18. Veronica Sforza

    My sweet Serina is a Chihuaua rescue. I’ve had her for about 5 years. She’s like 13. She was diagnosed with a collapsed trachea shortly after I adopted her. She’s been on medication for years and it just keeps getting worse. As a matter fact she’s on medication and cough medicine now. Poor baby, she is laying with me now wheezing and coughing. It is difficult for her to breathe or to sleep. My doctor Has been trying to help her. He says, as I have found while doing research, surgery has mabye a 50% chance of woking. Is it worth it to try to do the surgery? I don’t know what to do… I feel so bad for my sweet 4.5 pound Serina. Oh she lost about 5 oz in the past year… Any advise?

  19. S Turner

    My chihuahua has recently been diagnosed with this condition, it’s heart breaking to watch him gasp for breath, he’s much worse in the evenings or in warmer weather, I’ve recently brought an air purifier which has also helped to make breathing alittle easier for him, if anyone has any advice it would be great fully appreciated. He’s also gone very lethargic and doesn’t want to do any exercise, I would love for him to enjoy his walks again like he used to,

  20. Helen Daff

    My dog has symptoms like ‘reverse sneezing’ when she drinks water too fast.
    She’ll then make that ‘chocking noise’ that lasts a few seconds then sorts itself out. Never had it any other time. She wears a harness and not neck collar and is not overweight. I will mention it to the vet next time I go.

  21. Karen

    If I pick my little girl and hold her upright, head on top, and sqeeze a little pressure around her heart area, she quits coughing. I also give her a bronchial dilator that I got from my vet, in tablet form.

  22. Rodney

    Another way to assist in stopping the episode of coughing or choking is rubbing or petting her/ him were they absolutely love it. Were it makes them melt with pleasure. This works and has worked for me every time. My coco loves her back/ spine rubbed. She usually snaps right out of it.

  23. Shirlee

    I have a 4 year old female chihuahua, she was purchased from harrods in London when they had their pet kingdom,she has done that noise since we got her, sounds a bit like a duck sound and at times it gets loud and makes her reach to be sick then it stops but I have found if I say in a stern voice ” princess stop that” then she does. So yes maybe distraction is a good idea like someone else mentioned

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