From what you describe, including the age, breed, and signs reported - I would be most interesting in evaluating for a collapsing trachea (mild based on your signs)
Here is a general summary of the trachea and options that you may find helpful.
The trachea is the scientific name for windpipe. It consists of muscle
connecting a group of cartilage rings. The rings are actually not complete circles; they form a C shape. The remainder of the trachea that is not cartilage is a tissue called the tracheal membrane.
Tracheas collapse because the C cartilage flattens due to weak cartilage and then the membrane becomes floppy and weak. The tickling sensation of the membrane touching the tracheal lining generates coughing and if the obstruction interrupts breathing, the patient may become distressed.
Panting or rapid breathing for any reason makes the collapse and anxiety worse, which unfortunately tends to generate more rapid breathing and a vicious cycle of distress.
Making things worse still is the inflammation generated in the trachea. The collapse creates increased secretion and inflammation thus promoting yet more coughing which creates yet more inflammation. Ultimately the tissue of the trachea changes and loses its normal characteristics and the condition gets worse and worse.
TREATMENT: (MEDICAL VERSUS SURGICAL)
The following steps are often helpful in long-term management of the tracheal collapse patient:
1) Cough suppressants are used. (torbutrol, hycodan, etc)
2) Corticosteroids such as prednisone can be used, but are best used on a short term basis due to side-effects potential.
If medical management does not produce satisfactory results, and the respiratory distress is still present, either a placement of a tracheal stent or surgical rings to widen the trachea should be considered. Surgical therapy of tracheal collapse requires a surgery specialist.
Usually surgery, or tracheal stent placement are not first line treatments, but if medical management fails, tracheal stent placement or surgery can be considered. Of course, the best is to make sure (with x-rays) there is not another cause such as pneumonia which made the trachea worse - or meaning - had to work harder to breathe and collapse more.
This link may also help: CLICK HERE_____________________________________________________________________
Please click "ACCEPT" if the information I have provided has been of help so I receive credit for my work. Bonuses are always welcome and appreciated. Thank you.The above is given for information only. Although I am a licensed veterinarian, I cannot legally prescribe medicines or diagnose your pet's condition without performing a physical exam. If you have concerns about your pet I would highly advise contacting your regular veterinarian.