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Dr. Gary
Dr. Gary, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
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Experience:  DVM, Emergency Veterinarian, BS (Physiology)
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sheltie: My little..he ate his dinner..natural digestive enzyme powder

Resolved Question:

My little sheltie boy, Rumi started coughing and heaving thick white mucous when I returned from a few errands today. it started I can only guess about 4pm and it's now almost 2 am.

he ate his dinner and was fine for about 30 - 40 minutes afterwards. I had included a natural digestive enzyme powder in his food. then he began again and has continued periodically throughout the evening. he is presently resting...

I see no bloating and otherwise he looks fine. can I wait until the morning to take him to the vet. I don't spray the office with anything and left nothing down for him to eat.

He did have an episode where he got his collar stuck on Sunday and was fighting to get untangled from something for about a minute before I got to him. checked him out and then he rested and i thought everything was fine.

today's coughing and heaving came on without any warning... and it's not happening every minute. he's fine for awhile and then it starts again. it appears to start with his belly spasming and then he coughs or hacks... sometimes nothing comes up and other times a thick white mucous...

PLEASE ADVISE he's my little lassie boy and I want to do the right thing.

Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Gary replied 5 years ago.

It sounds like your dog has a collapsing trachea. This is common in small breed dogs where the trachea (windpipe) collapses down on itself as it enters the chest. This causes a dry hacking cough that can sometimes sound like a honking sound almost like a duck. They will often hack and then cough up some white foam as well.

As for what you can give tonight, the only over the counter cough suppressant that you can give is Robitussin DM. You can give 1/4 teaspoon every 8-12 hours as needed. The other thing that may help is Benadryl at 1 mg/lb. We usually use Benadryl for allergic reactions but it is a mild sedative so we may use it for it's sedation properties.

For more long term treatment, we typically use a combination of a sedative (Acepromazine) + a cough suppressant (Butorphanol/ Torb) as needed. In the severely affected dogs, we go to surgery to place a tracheal stent that holds the trachea open. This is not often needed, but it's an option.

I hope this helps, let me know if you have any other questions.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
This doesn't make sense. He stays in the house except for walks and is perfectly healthy. He's not hacking all the time just periodically and then it may stop for an hour or more. How could his trachea be collapsing?
Expert:  Dr. Gary replied 5 years ago.
It may be something else like kennel cough or even an allergy. Collapsing trachea is very common in small breed dogs and that is what makes it the most likely. It's a breed problem, not something infectious.

I would just try the Benadryl or Robitussin DM tonight and get chest x-rays in the morning. This will rule in or out a collapsing trachea. It will also look for pneumonia or bronchitis or heart disease.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
He's resting now. Do you think a chiropractor adjustment would help and would that be safe to do that prior to an xray? What is the benadryl and robitussin going to do? My vet opens at 7am... is it safe to wait or could he have more problems in the next few hours? Do I need to stay awake and watch him?
Expert:  Dr. Gary replied 5 years ago.
No, a chiropractor adjustment would not likely help. That is more helpful for spinal abnormalities. The cough is not likely spinal in origin.

I think it'll be ok to wait until 7 and see your vet.

If you notice pale or blue gums, then you should go in sooner.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I just looked at his gums and they are normal in color however Very Inflamed... what does that mean?
Could this be an allergic reaction to something?
Expert:  Dr. Gary replied 5 years ago.
With reactions they usually look more red than pink. If that is the case, then the Benadryl should help it.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
He's between 22 - 24 pounds... human benadryl and how much exactly is safe?

thank you,

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Also, I mentioned the episode on Sunday where he got his collar stuck and was freaking out trying to get free and pulling his head and neck against the collar before I got him out. Could that have hurt his trachea and why would it just now show up two days later?
Expert:  Dr. Gary replied 5 years ago.
Sorry, I didn't see this before I signed off last night. The dose I'd give would be 25 mg of Benadryl every 6-8 hours as needed.

The previous choking episode can lead to NCPE (non-cardiogenic pulmonary edema). NCPE is basically fluid that builds up in the lungs due to something non heart related. This can be electric shock (biting electrical cords), choking, near drowning. Usually we don't see much coughing, but instead we see labored breathing and pale/ blue gums.

It could have been irritation from the choking episode on the trachea. In that case, the x-rays would be normal but we'd get irritation when palpating the trachea. Anti-inflammatory meds and cough suppressants would do the trick then.
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