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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 21471
Experience:  Hello, I am a small animal veterinarian and am happy to discuss any concerns & questions you have on any species.
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My name is ***** ***** I'm 26. I have a male chihuahua/maltese

Customer Question

my name is ***** ***** I'm 26. I have a male chihuahua/maltese mix he weighs about 9 lbs and is about 6 1/2 years old, he was very little when I got him, the runt i believe the lady at the pet store said, I had him since he was 9 weeks old and I really didn't notice this cough he had till he was about 1 1/2 or he just didn't do it that often maybe like once a month or something. We'll like I was saying at 1 1/2- 2 years old it was beginning to happen more often like once a week and it would be longer also lasting up to 4-5 minutes it sounded like he was coughing up a hairball or something and then he would throw up sometimes not always and then like he had a stuffy nose and it was obviously hard for him to breathe so he starts snorting and this whole time I'm freaking out looking around if he might of gotten into something but he didn't. Of course I try to help him and calm him down by gently scratching like under his ears and down his throat and that seems to help a little and calm him down enough that he realizes he can breathe out of his mouth, so I can breathe a little easier to now. So I take him to the vet and he stays the night there and in the morning after all kinds of tests and a bill of $600 later they couldn't tell me what was wrong except that little dogs like him (runts) it's very common I guess for them to have these kinds of problems with their throat and breathing. That's it nothing more. I've taken him to 2 different vets and both didn't have anything really to say. Is this really the answer that this is just common in little dogs? He's 6 1/2 now and I love him with all my heart I definitely want to try and keep him in the best health I can so he stays with me as long as he can but I'm really worried now it's getting to be close to every other day that this happens or every other two days. Is there anything you can tell me different please?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 2 years ago.
Hello & welcome, Vicki. I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you today. I do apologize that your question was not answered before. Different experts come online at various times; I just came online, read about your wee one’s situation, and wanted to help.
Again I do apologize that my colleagues could not aid you sooner. If you would still like assistance, can you tell me:
Do these episodes tend to occur when he is excited?
What tests did his vets do? Xrays? Scoping?
When he has these episodes, do it look/sound like this example @ ?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you so much for getting back to me! And yes that video helped alot that is what happens but kinda worse and he freaks out over it alot more this happens almost every time he gets excited and sometimes out of no where like he can be sleeping and just jump up and off my bed and onto his little dog bed and starts rubbing and Like digging into his bed hiding his nose and as I've mentioned before sometimes throws up afterwards but not always. The tests and X rays he had done I'll have to look into that and call the vet and find out for sure but he did stay overnight and when I got him the next day was really groggy coming off pain meds.
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 2 years ago.
You are very welcome,
Since he rubs his nose, have you seen any nasal discharge?
Do you think he is worse during a particular season?
Do you think he starts like the example I posted before but with more of a cough or gasp with the intake of breath?
Does he ever faint?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
No no discharge I've always checked to make sure to, and no not really any particular time of the year either it just randomly happens and he doesn't faint but he does have more of a gasp or a cough in the start
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 2 years ago.
Thank you again,
Now your lad's history, duration of signs, and the character of his respiratory sounds does raise a few suspicions. First, since Max's signs have been present over such an extended period of time, we can rule out transient or temporary issues (ie infectious agents, foreign bodies, etc). As well, if his signs are non-seasonal, then we'd be less concerned about an allergy component. Furthermore, since this started when he was so young, I'd be less suspicious of upper airway polyps or growths.
With those aside and considering everything you have told me, I have two main concerns here. One concern is that he has reverse sneezing (what you saw in the video). This is a condition that we see in small breed dogs that have sensitive upper airways. They can be prone to this if they have longer then normal soft palates or if they are just sensitive to air borne irritants that they breathe in.
Further to this, the other issue that I'd also be suspicious about with Max is a collapsing trachea. This too is very common to our small breed dogs and often are something they are born with but can progress over the course of their lives. It occurs because the cartilage rings in the trachea are softer then ideal. So, when the dog gets excited and tenses their neck muscles, it pulls the trachea taut and collapses it. This can lead to coughing after excitement and in severe cases they can also faint.
In regards ***** ***** we approach these cases, it depends on the severity of signs and your vet's exam/xray findings. For severe cases, surgery can sometimes be indicated (ie to shorten the palate, to place a stent to increase tracheal rigidity). But in Max's case, if no treatment has been tried, then you may want to discuss treatment options with his vet. For example, if he is sensitive to an airborne irritant, then antihistamines (ie Benadryl) could be helpful in reducing his signs. Otherwise, we'd want to consider a trial on anti-inflammatories (ie steroids or non-steroidal anti-inflammatories). This can reduce inflammation and sensitivity in the palate and thus reduce the reverse sneezing and these episodes. As well, it can reduce the risk of tracheal collapse in dogs that have tracheal sensitivity (though we wouldn't be likely to complete reduce this since the tracheal rings would always be softer then they should be). It will be a case of trial and error to see what works best for him. Still, if we can reduce that irritation then we can hopefully reduce these episodes for him.
So, do check with his vet what tests were done and what their findings are. But if these 2 issues were their findings, then it'd be worth considering a trial on anti-inflammatories to see if we can reduce Max's signs and keep him more comfortable.
Please take care,
Dr. B.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you so much for taking the time to explain this to me you have no idea how much I appreciate this and I'll get that info from the 2 vets I took him to as soon as possible for you
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 2 years ago.
You are very welcome,
I am glad that I could shed some light on our suspicions for Max. Do let me know what information you find when you speak to his vets. And if he does have any more of these episodes, you can video it, post it on a site like YouTube, and I am happy to take a look at what you are seeing.
Speak to you soon,
Dr. B.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
That's a great idea I'm not sure why I didn't do that to show the previous vets :) I'll be sure to keep my phone close by when it happens again and yes once I get the info from them I'll let you know as soon as possible I'm very happy we talked and your information so far has been helpful and i cant wait to see what else we find out thanks again
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 2 years ago.
Hi again,
You are very welcome and I am glad I can help you both. :)
I think most people forget to record/video episodes of this nature because they are distressing and not nice to see. But it is a perfect means for your vet and for me to see what he is doing. Especially when dogs so rarely perform on command during a vet visit. So, while I hope he doesn't have any more distressing episodes (for his sake, since its not nice); if he does recording it can be quite valuable for helping all of us see what he is actually doing at home.
All the best,
Dr. B.