Q. We want to get another small dog that can easily go with us when we travel. Our last dog was a Yorkie, and we would love to get another one if she was healthy and didn’t cough all of the time. Our last one had a collapsed trachea and was almost always on medication which was a problem when she flew with us. How can we prevent this problem?
A. The windpipe or trachea in some breeds of small dogs is underdeveloped and with stimulation can cause profound coughing. It’s unclear whether it is genetic but it is more common in miniature or toy breeds.
Dogs are likely born with the abnormality but certain situations or body types may exacerbate the disease. Here are some tips to minimize the effects of a collapsing trachea:
1. Avoid high humidity and heat. Both inhibit the respiratory mechanism dogs need to keep cool. As temperatures and humidity rises, heavy panting and inefficient breathing can lead to tracheal collapse.
2. Unfortunately, many of our dogs are overweight. Maintaining an optimum body size can make breathing more efficient and less likely to trigger an episode of coughing. Proper exercise can help maintain a lean body weight but too much activity or excitement can increase coughing spells.
3. Make sure your four legged friends is up date with upper respiratory vaccinations. Contracting the disease called canine cough or infectious tracheobronchitis can lead to much more severe cough or even pneumonia.
4. Small dogs not only are more prone to collapsing trachea but have a higher incidence of dental disease and periodontitis. In turn, pets with dental disease have gum and tooth infections that can directly contribute to upper airway disease and other respiratory issues. Home care and regular veterinary cleanings can minimize some of these infections from harming other tissues and organs.
While it may not be possible to predict whether any one puppy will have a collapsing trachea, those breeds more commonly affected with it may benefit from these tips.
Questions? Send them to Dr. Sandeman, Home & Garden, Quad-City Times, 500 E. 3rd St., Davenport, IA 52801. Or, email to papertrained@ mchsi.com. Dr. Sandeman cannot answer letters or email personally, but questions of general interest will be answered in this column.