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Courtney Carroll, DVM
Courtney Carroll, DVM, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
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Experience:  5 years experience as a small animal and exotics veterinarian
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My dog makes a clicking noise when be breathes, and it ...

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My dog makes a "clicking" noise when be breathes, and it becomes more traumatic sounding as he either gets more & more excited about something, or if he is going for a walk on a leash. No respiratory problems have been found after a thorough probing by the medical experts. They are stumped by his sound but saw no airway obstructions or masses. Any ideas?
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Courtney Carroll, DVM replied 7 years ago.
Did they do chest x-rays during his workup? Did his bark change pitch? Does he make the noise out of his nose? or when the mouth is open?

When the episode occur with walking, do you walk him with a collar? or a harness?
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Yes, they did do 2 thorax radiographs & an echocardiogram, all which looked fine (this in addition to looking all the way down to the lungs with a scope and taking some cultures & tissue biopsies; all of which seemed unremarkable). His bark has not changed pitch at all. Now, that you mention it, he only makes this clicking sound when his mouth is open and panting; not when his mouth is closed and he is breathing just through the nose. We are now walking him with a harness, but previous to the past couple weeks, we did use just a leash on his collar. It has not yet made a difference in whether or not he starts up with the clicking sound, though. Hope this info helps you somewhat.Thank you so much for your time and interest.
Expert:  Courtney Carroll, DVM replied 7 years ago.
It seems that they have done a very thouorgh workup.

I would speculate that this is some form of collapsing trachea. I don't know if they mentioned that to you at all. What happens in this process is that the cartilage rings that make the trachea rigid, over time begin to soften. Then, when the dog gets excited or the trachea has pressure placed on it, it smashes flat. This creates irritation of the trachea, respiratory noise, and eventually coughing. Collapsing trachea can be difficult diagnostically--it is hard to see. When the dog is not having an episode, it appears normal--on pretty much all the imaging.

I think it is reasonable to try some medical therapy--which is aimed at removing pressure from the trachea with a harness ( you have already done), cough suppresents (I like hycodan), and sometimes NSAIDS to reduce tracheal inflammation.

Of course, you will have to talk it over with your vet--as the drugs are rx only.

Hope this helps
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Reply to Courtney Carroll, DVM's Post: The doctors did not actually bring up tracheal collapse, and although I can see your point in that it may not appear on an x-ray, I would think they would have noticed any problem in the trachea area when they did both the bronchoscopy and/or the airway wash. He does not have a cough at all, at this point. Just the horrible sound when he pants excitedly, and some snoring at times. Any further thoughts? Thank you.
Expert:  Courtney Carroll, DVM replied 7 years ago.
I guess--my only other thought is that it could be consistent with an elongated soft palate--but they would have seen that on the scope and when they examined for laryngeal paralysis.

Tracheal collapse is not always evident, even on the scope--the changes in the cartilage are only visable on a microscopic level. Usually it is only observed on fluoroscopy, which is not commonly done anymore due to excessive radiation exposure. Most of the time, a if a trial of medications improves the situation--this is a presumptive diagnosis. I would definately raise the question with your vet(s). Let me know what they say.
Courtney Carroll, DVM, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 642
Experience: 5 years experience as a small animal and exotics veterinarian
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Courtney Carroll, DVM
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Dog Specialist
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5 years experience as a small animal and exotics veterinarian