Dog Health Questions? Ask a Dog Vet for Answers ASAP
Hello, my name isXXXXX and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
I am so sorry to hear that Zeppelin has a collapsing trachea.
There are some surgical procedures that can be done to help support a collapsing trachea. One is placement of several external rings around the trachea for support, another is an internal stent. This is not a simple surgery to perform so you do want to have a board certified surgeon perform the surgery. This is an expensive procedure and there can be complications including ring or stent failure, infections, and migration of the stent or rings.
Here is a link to help you find a board certified veterinary surgeon in your area
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Because of the expense and possible complications we try to control collapsing tracheas medically as long as possible.
As far as controlling his tracheal collapse, try to keep him as quiet as possible. The more active he is the more he will cough and the more he coughs the more damage he does to his trachea, causing inflammation and weakening his tracheal rings further.
Use humidifiers to moisten the air that he breathes as that is soothing to his airways. You can also take him into the bathroom with you when you run a hot shower or bath so he can breathe in the steam.
Keep his teeth and gums very clean with brushing and antibacterial oral rinses (such as CET rinse). The more bacteria in his mouth the more he breathes the bacteria into his airways which leads to more irritation/inflammation and coughing. Sometimes we need to use antibiotics periodically to keep secondary infections under control.
If bronchodilators (like theophylline) and cough suppressants (like hydrocodone) aren't enough in some cases we need to use oral steroids to reduce tracheal inflammation. But steroids shouldn't be the only treatment.
Keep him on the light side, the heavier he is the more pressure on his pharynx, airways and chest and the more he will cough.
I recommend using a harness rather then a collar as that will be less irritating to his trachea, putting less pressure on his trachea.
Over the counter cough suppressants you can try are Robitussin DM or Benylin Expectorant. Use only products with Dextromethorphin or Dextromethorphin and Guaifenesin. Never give those with Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Ibuprofen or a decongestant as those are toxic for dogs. Give 1 teaspoon per 20 pounds of body weight every 6 hours. The side effect most commonly seen is sleepiness. Do NOT use these along with hydrocodone, rather they are a different cough suppressant to try.
A collapsed trachea puts stress and strain on the heart and reduced amounts of oxygen in the blood with a collapsed trachea can lead to heart disease, heart failure, and organ disease. So while the condition itself isn't deadly, unless the airway completely collapses and no air is moving, the stress on his heart can be harmful and lead to deadly heart failure or other organ failure from low oxygen levels.
Best of luck with your pup, let me know if you have any further questions.