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Walter, Breeder
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 11528
Experience:  Breeder and pet health consultant. Have spent a number of years with dog rescue, training and health
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My 13 year old cocker spaniel has a wheezing type cough. Ive

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My 13 year old cocker spaniel has a wheezing type cough. I've taken her to the vet 4X for this problem. They listen to her heart and say it sounds strong with no indication of heart murmor. They prescribed an antibiotic for 7 days. The cough persists. Please help. Should I be so bold as to ask for an X-ray to see if it is her esophogus or lungs? They recommended a NEW blood panel which would indicate if she was pre-disposed to a heart problem.

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What does the wheeze sound like? (A cough, gagging noise or just difficulty breathing)


Anytime this seems worse? (At night, after a nap, after exercise, after drinking water)


Any other symptoms?


Is she overweight?



Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Hi Walter,

Beauty's cough sounds more "gagging" with a wheeze to it. It happens at any time (even if she is just laying by my side and has been there for 1/2 hour). She is not over-weight (22.9#). No other symptoms .. good appetite, coat in excellent condition, ears healthy, does need her teeth scaled (last done 1 1/2 years ago)



Thank you for the additional information. This sounds like Beauty may have Tracheal problems such as irritation or a collapse. This condition is VERY common and tends to worsen with age.


Tracheal collapse is a condition in which the trachea partially collapses as a dog breathes, leading to tracheal irritation, coughing and sometimes secondary changes in the lungs or upper airways. The irritation is self perpetuating, since coughing and increased respiratory efforts lead to further irritation and worsening of clinical signs.


One of the most classical symptoms of tracheal collapse is a wheeze/cough that sounds like a gagging noise. In most cases it seems to get worse after exercise or after drinking, but in older dogs who have it the dog can have it all the time, or only every now and again with no triggers.


Eventually, damage can occur to the lungs, larynx or even upper airways. Obesity, irritants, allergies, concurrent heart failure, bacteria, viruses can all contribute to the problem, as well. The symptoms of tracheal collapse are coughing, difficulty breathing and tiring easily. When this condition first occurs many dog owners truly believe that there must be something caught in their dog's airway due to the severity of the cough. If the tracheal collapse is occurring inside the chest the increase in pressure on the circulation can lead to heart enlargement or contribute to heart failure.

There are medical treatments for collapsing trachea as well as surgical treatments. The consensus of opinion seems to be that collapsing tracheal problems are best treated medically until it becomes obvious that medical treatment alone is not going to work. Steroids are the most common form of medications used. They are very effective and typically they cause no other problems with the dog.


Taking this up with your vet is VERY important, a scope of the tracheal is something you will want to speak with your vet about.


Your vet may want to try daily steroids. There are other medications, the fact is steroids tend to work best for it. There are others as well such as cough syrups, which help mask the symptoms and give some relief but are not good as a long term treatment, antibiotics if a infection caused the collapse. Cough suppressants such as Hydrocodone or Torbutrol may be handy for sudden attacks and have no draw backs. Corticosteroids such as prednisone are also used as short term treatments as they typically cause problems with the liver and kidneys. Airway Dilators such as theophylline or terbutaline are controversial but are sometimes used when surgery is not a option.


I can not recommend one treatment....because I can not exam the Beauty and tell you how bad the situation is. She will need to be examined and the tracheal checked to determine how bad it is and which is the best treatment.


If you have any additional questions or need clarification on any of the above please use the reply button. If your satisfied with my answer please do not forget to click the accept button and leave feedback about your experience with me.



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