When To Euthanize A Dog With Tracheal Collapse?

When To Euthanize A Dog With Tracheal Collapse

Is your dog coughing all the time? And the cough is dry? Does the cough get worse when he drinks or eats? If yes, you need to be cautious! Don’t ignore it by thinking it would be the flu or minor respiratory infection.

Take your dog to the Vet! Constant cough can be the beginning of an incurable condition called tracheal collapse. Sadly, this collapse may end up in natural death or euthanizing.

When to euthanize a dog with tracheal collapse? You should wait after diagnosis unless symptoms get severe. Typically, the average life expectancy with medication varies from 2 to 4 years post-diagnosis. However, your Vet would be the right person to determine the best time to put your dog to sleep with this ailment. But don’t do this if symptoms are mild.

 Though this disease is non-symptomatic at early stages. Its diagnosis is confusing as it resembles a lot with ordinary flu. That’s why you need to take prolonged flu signs in your pet seriously.

Keep going to know more!

Should You Euthanize A Dog With Tracheal Collapse?

Should you put down your dog suffering from Tracheal Collapse or not? The answer is that, if your pet is feeling good after medication or surgery, there is no need to put him to sleep. However, if the symptoms still persist after treatment then the last resort would be to euthanize before it gets worse.

 Below are few factors to consider to put your down with this ailment:

Wait until Severe Symptoms

In this case, you should wait until severe conditions like shortness of breathing may become obvious. You should never decide to put your pet to sleep in mild symptoms. Sometimes after medication, there is a high chance of normal life.

Ask Your Vet

Let your Vet decide whether you should euthanize or not. He knows well the condition of your dog. After proper testing, he will diagnose the stage of the disease and then finally suggest you do this or not.

Get Medication after Diagnosis.

Diagnosis does not mean that your dog will die. It is a progressive disease that will take time to completely destroy the windpipe. An expert Vet would never suggest euthanization without medication and possible treatment.

What is Tracheal Collapse in Dogs?

As the name suggests this ailment would be related to the Trachea that is a  large membranous tube reinforced by rings of cartilage, extending from the larynx to the bronchial tubes and conveying air to and from the lungs. During this progressive incurable disease, this windpipe called Trachea will lose its firm structure. Sometimes it may result from the incomplete formation of cartilaginous rings.

It is a gradual process. In early diagnosis, the membrane of the upper portion of the trachea will breakdown. If not treated properly, C-shaped rings of the trachea will get flatten which may lead to air obstruction. In the last stage, the trachea will straighten up blocking the air passage badly. This condition is more common in small dog breeds as compared to larger ones.

Sore throat and continuous coughing will be the major symptoms of dogs with this disease. Normal flu symptoms will disappear after some days. But symptoms of Tracheal Collapse will get worsen with time.

Causes Of Tracheal Collapse in Dogs

Like other diseases, the exact reasons for Tracheal Collapse are still unknown. There are two types of tracheal collapse observed in dogs. One is congenital and the other is acquired

 Below are a few suspected causes of this acquired tracheal collapse:

  • Long effect of Cushing disease
  • Heart diseases
  • Respiratory diseases

For congenital tracheal collapse main reason is:

  • Deficiency of essential components of tracheal ring cartilage-like glycosaminoglycans, glycoproteins, calcium, and chondroitin.

Symptoms Of Tracheal Collapse In Dogs

The early symptoms of congenital tracheal collapse would be challenging to detect at an early stage. However, after six to seven years symptoms will appear that may include

  • Shortness of Breath
  • Discomfort while breathing
  • Coughing with abnormal gagging sound
  • Discoloration of the blue mucous membrane
  • Weight loss when symptoms are severs
  • Lack of activity or exercise
  • Difficulty in eating or drinking

How to Diagnosis Tracheal Collapse In Dogs?

Following the major symptoms of long cough, the early diagnosis is a bit easier. However, for further clinical diagnosis following procedures are used.

Radiograph Or X-rays

At an early stage, you can easily witness the narrowing of the tracheal tube through the radiograph. To detect further stages, the following procedures are used


In this procedure, a small camera device is injected inside the trachea to observe its destruction. It happens when your dog is under anesthesia. This technique is mostly in use used latest techniques today


It is like an enlarged X-ray with more sensitive detection. You can see the movement of collapse as your pet breathes in or out.

Right Time To Euthanize A Dog With Tracheal Collapse

How to determine the right time to euthanize your pet with tracheal collapse can be tricky. For these conditions, dog owners should wait until euthanasia is the ultimate solution. But go for medicine first. If after medication and surgery, you feel the symptoms below, you should ask your vet opinion about euthanization as soon as possible

  • Continuous weight loss
  • Frequent Cough with inhalation or exhalation
  • Difficulty in eating and drinking
  • No interest in people or activities around
  • Short breathing
  • Difficulty in walking
  • Irritable and lethargic

Your Vet will give an injection to the pet,  and finally, there will be no pain. If you delay and wait for natural death, you will tend to increase the anxiety and pain of your furry friend.

Can Collapsing Trachea Kill the Dog?

Don’t you think, the term collapsing trachea sounds scary? Obviously, it feels as if the dog will die immediately after flattening the windpipe. However, in real life the situation is different. Dogs with this condition seldom experience low quality of life as said by Vet Dr. Kennedy

“Most dogs with collapsing tracheas do not experience a decrease in quality of life or in life expectancy as a result,” 

This progressive disease will take time to make your animal die. It’s true that in critical cases, it can kill your dog. But its also true that in the early stages of progression, you may observe no symptoms other than a cough. Your animal will eat or drink normally unless it gets severe.

How to Calm a Dog with collapsed Trachea?

What to do if your dog is coughing continuously? The major symptoms of tracheal collapse are no doubt dry cough. At the early stages, he would cough while eating, drinking, and arousing. With progression, he would cough even with each breath.

If you feel your dog much disturbed, follow the tips below

  • Take your pet to pet
  • Give him a sedative so that he may sleep well
  • Give him anti-cough medicine
  • Test him to determine the severity of the tracheal collapse
  • Ask your vet to suggest whether to put down or not if the condition is extremely critical.
when to euthanize a dog with a collapsing trachea

Can a dog live a long life with a collapsed trachea?

Typically a dog can live up to 2 years after diagnosis. However, after medication and therapies, the survival range may increase from 2 to 4 years. But it depends on how well your animal responds to these therapies.

Major factors that determine long life expectancy with tracheal collapse are

  • Only Cough
  • Minor symptoms of short breathing
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Overall good health condition of the dog
  • No sufficient weight gain or loss

However, after following the procedure of stenting, complications may arise like an abnormal flow of mucus above and below the trachea. It may result in respiratory tract infections.

What to feed a dog with a collapsed trachea?

Caring for a pet with a Collapsed trachea is essential to keep your dog healthy and symptom-free. For this, you should ask your Vet about the suspected cause of this disease in your dog, If it is due to genetics, you should tell your breeder to note down this fact in breed medical history. If this is due to obesity, you need to feed your dog properly in order to lose weight.

Normally, you can feed a raw or freeze-dried diet to get your dog in shape. Don’t introduce fatty diets in dog meals. Though after reducing your dog weight there is no guarantee that collapse will heal up. You have to take this step to minimize symptoms only. 

Can a dog recover from the tracheal collapse?

Unfortunately, a pet can’t recover fully even after treatment or medication. However, it depends mainly on how your canine responds to surgery or therapies. Sometimes, the only benefit of surgery is to get temporary relief. After surgery, your dog will be dependent on medication throughout life.

Full recovery is impossible. That’s why the only option is to put the animal down. Some dogs might suffer from cough after therapies or. There are many hopes that in the future there will be high recovery options for dogs with this disease.

Is the treatment of tracheal Collapse possible?

Unlike cancer and other fatal diseases, mild cases of tracheal collapse can be treated with medicines. The Vet is the right person to determine whether this disease in your pet can be treated at this stage or not. So, leave this onto the Vet, and let’s read on the possible treatment options available for this below:

Treatment with medication: :

Early diagnosed cases can be treated with medications such as cough suppressants, bronchodilators, corticosteroids to control inflammation, sedative, and antibiotics. Medicines like butorphanol or hydrocodone,  prednisone, or fluticasone are prescribed by Vets in this condition. The Aerosol dog device is a good invention to treat mild asthma or respiratory infections.

Treatment With Surgery

If medication is not effective, there are surgical interventions as well. However, surgeries are risky and costly procedures. Only expert surgeons can do this. There are two surgical methods known so far. In the first method, a plastic ring is placed at the end of the trachea to open the windpipe. Though the success ratio of this process is high it has many complications as well. In the second process, the stent is placed in the windpipe to let it open for airflow. This process also has many complications and needs retrieval in many cases.

Treatment Through Exercise

In most cases, obesity is the only cause of developing collapse within the trachea. It can be treated with proper weight management exercises. As a dog owner, it would be your responsibility to take time to exercise your dog regularly to minimize the further progression of the trachea.

How can I help my dog with tracheal Collapse?

Responsible caregivers often ask the vet how they can help out their furry friends in reducing the symptoms of this disease. There are so many things that you can do to minimize the signs.

Let’s read on the instructions below

  • If your dog is unwell, he can behave unexpectedly. Maybe he would not even love to respond to you in pain. So, it’s better to leave him alone but for some time until he gets treatment. They would love to sleep more.
  • To minimize respiratory infections, you can install room air filters and purifiers. If you can’t do this, you should make your room well ventilated.
  • Remove carpets from your pet bedding area. Carpets can trap bacteria and can maximize the risk of breathing allergies.
  • If you are a smoker, then don’t do this near your dog as he is already suffering. The smoke of wood, cigarette, and fumes of perfume and cooking all are harmful to dogs in this condition.
  • Obesity is the main cause of the tracheal collapse in many dog breeds. If your vet suggests the same cause, it’s your responsibility to schedule your animal exercise routine. For this, you can get help from this dog training program.
  • Take care while taking your dog outside, use a harness instead of a collar. Collars can restrict the air passage if you pull him. It can be painful as well as your dog is patient.

The Last Words

Lastly, your Vet will decide when to euthanize a dog with tracheal collapse, not you. So, trust your Vet and wait until you find severe symptoms. I am not in favor of putting the dog down if you are unable to care for them or bear the cost of treatment.

Always go for euthanization to relieve your furry friend from a painful death. Don’t do this if you don’t care for them in disease or disability. Indeed, it would be an unfair and merciless act if your intention is wrong.

There are medicines for treating collapse at an early stage. With these medications, your pet may not feel the severity of the symptoms. Take care of your Pet. Stay Safe!

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