When to Euthanize a Dog with Tracheal Collapse?

Because of their large size, tracheal collapse in dogs is a problem that many small breeds facing. The trachea’s position linked to the relatively narrow shoulders and less muscular neck makes the trachea prone to injury.

Usually, this is not an unintentional injury, but rather an injury, such as excessive rough play in the park for dogs or, more often, pulling up the leash. So, you have to know when to euthanize a dog with tracheal collapse. Here we go!

What is Tracheal Collapse in Dogs? 

Collapsing trachea is a continuous ailment in canines when the firm structures in the trachea lose their strength and lower or collapse. It will make your dog strange noises as if it is trying to cough with a bubble. 

In the early stages, the membrane in the upper part of the trachea begins to break down, blocking your dog’s airways. If left untreated, the C-shaped rings holding the trachea begin to straighten and additionally block the airway of the animal, letting it to always cough.

A collapsing trachea dog can show a sore throat in milder cases, especially when a dog wakes up or squeezes a collar. But this is not like a normal dog cough in our human ears. 

It may also be similar reverse sneezing, but unlike sneezing, this condition does not disappear on its own. Sometimes it’s a cough that can be intimidating. In massive dogs, weight loss can lessen the level of respiratory effort they want and the severity of the tracheal collapse.

Coughing occurs due to trauma and inflammation, which additionally stimulates coughing. If the cough cycle is not interrupted, the airways may be temporarily blocked, causing breathing difficulties and death.

Causes of Tracheal Collapse

The reason for the tracheal collapse in canines is unclear. But researchers note weak cartilage in the tracheal rings as a reason. It can also be the effect of Cushing’s disease, heart disease, and chronic respiratory diseases.

Some common symptoms include coughing, fast or abnormal breathing sounds, and a blue tinge of the gums. Please pay close attention to your dog, as it tends to hide when it is hurt or uncomfortable.

At first, you might think that the sounds of breathing come from a cough that just disappears and heals on its own. However, it may not be so in this case.

Collapsing Trachea When is it Time to Euthanize!

In general, dogs expose different things when they feel irritate. In fact, they act more than usual, and run away from food. You can start by paying more time behind them.

In most cases, dogs prefer to spend time alone if they are not healthy. Some dogs may be more aggressive and may growl and grit their teeth. To alleviate your dog’s symptoms at home, make your house airy and clean the area. Air filters and cleaners help remove contaminants.

It would be best if you did not expose your dog to wood smoke or cigarettes, smells or other respiratory irritants, personnel or clothing, carpets or fabrics. If it is assumed that the cause of the tracheal collapse is obesity, weight loss is the first course of action.


A typical symptom is a loud cough. Usually, a small patient coughs with more excitement or movement. There may be a creak when it’s over. 

The puppy must often stop what he is doing to catch his breath, sit, and cough. Tracheoscopy or fluoroscopy is necessary to confirm the diagnosis and determine the stage of the disease.

  • Tracheoscopy uses a small camera to look at the tube under general anaesthesia. However, it is considered the best technique.
  • Fluoroscopy is an elegant x-ray that lets the vet monitor your pet in real-time. You can see the move and collapse of the trachea when the dog breathes. Just remember, if the x-ray looks like an image, fluoroscopy in the film. 

Can A Dog Die from Collapsed Trachea?

Related problems that can cause respiratory stress, such as a long soft palate, must be corrected to slow the disease’s progression. In critical tracheal collapse, the situation can bring about a severe and life-threatening problem, complicated by episodes of severe shortness of breath. 

The tracheal collapse life expectancy of dogs is about two years, but many dogs live for more than four years. In addition to coughing, complications from stenting include impaired normal mucus outflow above and below the trachea, which may increase the risk of respiratory tract infection or obstruction.

Dog Tracheal Collapse Prognosis

The prognosis stays suitable for many dogs with tracheal collapse, which was diagnosed at an early stage. You can expect occasional coughing fits. Controlling the weight is necessary because obesity significantly worsens the long-term prognosis in all patients with tracheal collapse. 

Related problems can cause respiratory stress, such as a long soft palate, and you must slow the progression of the disease. The condition can become a severe and life-threatening problem, intricate by episodes of severe shortness of breath in severe tracheal collapse.

Severe episodes of coughing and shortness of breath negatively affect the prognosis. The owner should be aware of the disappointing constraints of treating dogs with tracheal collapse. 

Even with advancing surgical or medical treatment, coughing can extend. So the treatment is aimed at maintaining a good quality of life and not eliminating the cough. Many canines with tracheal collapse usually cannot tolerate life exercises, and most continue to cough enthusiastically.

Symptoms of Collapsed Trachea in Dogs

The genetic condition mainly affects the sexual races of both sexes, and Yorks are far away. Cataracts can occur at any age, although the average age at which clinical symptoms start to resemble is six to seven years. And include light or severe shortness of breath, and discolouration of the blue mucous membranes (cyanosis).

Collapsing Trachea When to Say Goodbye

Respiratory efforts in the abdominal cavity create tension in the abdominal muscles. Dogs having tracheal collapse may often overweight but can be thin as well. Often heart murmur is associated with heart disease because both of these problems occur in older dogs.

Collapsing Trachea When to Say Goodbye

The usual essential treatments do not include medication. As obesity complicates the collapse of the trachea, dogs with this condition need to keep an average weight. They should pass with straps instead of neck harness to prevent the trachea from being squeezed through the collar.

However, they should also avoid intense activity and agitation on hot days, as high temperatures significantly increase the work required for the trachea. It is also essential to recognize and treat other conditions that are common and can cause similar symptoms in dogs apt to tracheal collapse.

Those simple measures were enough to control the trachea’s collapse in most dogs, which I have met for life. The main remedies are cough remedies, which do not cure the first collapse, but often suppress the symptoms so that the dogs can return to good life qualities.

Use of Steroids

The usage of different steroids, like prednisone, is genuinely controversial. In fact, it can lessen the pain in the trachea caused by the collapse. But collapse itself cannot be avoided.

Prolonged use of prednisone almost certainly causes side effects and is doubtful for the treatment of tracheal collapse. I usually do not prescribe steroids for tracheal collapse.

Surgical Treatment

There is surgery such as stenting, where a rigid structure is placed in the airways to keep it open. Significant progress comes in the effectiveness of this process over the past decade, but it is still experiencing difficulties.

Stents are prone to collapse over time. So, you need to repeat the process after several years. In general, this should also be done by a specialist.

And, of course, this means that it is expensive. However, it is an excellent choice for some severely infected dogs.

You have to place the stents under standard anesthesia using fluoroscopy to assess the position. The endoprosthesis must be correctly measured to fit the desired size.

After installing, it has become very well tolerated since the tracheal membrane grows along the inert surface of the stent and remains in place throughout life. Stenting is less invasive than open surgery, with promising long-term effects.


Operation is possible to put artificial rings around the duct to keep it open. This technique can work very well, but the process is challenging. That’s because the collapsed part of the trachea locates in the chest,

So, the method is not risk-free. The trachea’s endoprosthesis is a flexible metal tube, usually made of a unique metal called nitinol, which remains inside the tracheal lumen and remains open.

Success Rate of the Surgery

According to reports, the procedure was successful in improving the breathing and quality of life of patients from 75 to 80% of dogs. About 5% of canines exhibit zero improvements. 

Dogs that live for years with tracheal collapse have chronic changes in their lower airways. In fact, the stents improve more moderate respiratory tract disease, but dogs can still have coughing and nausea. The goal is to improve symptoms, not healing.

Surgery Complications 

This process has been steadily developing over the past years. After a few years, most of the difficulties linked to the rupture or migration of the stent. Pain can also transpire through the stent, and at the end of the stent, collapse may happen.

Experts say that some canines have stents for five years without dilemmas, but this is not the exception. Interviewed experts showed that the average life expectancy of stents is two years. Removing or replacing them is dangerous. 

The placement of a tracheal stent is not a substitute for medical care. Most dogs continue to take medication to deal with breathing problems, even after stents have installed.

Dog’s Collapsed Trachea Surgery Cost

Although more specialized clinics appear every year, this is still a rare process. In the case of a referral to the installation of a tracheal stent, you must know the team’s experience, success rates, and difficulty. 

Think of a trip to the center with a full team and a long history. Most patients stay in the hospital for 1 to 2 nights. In fact, it is the situation in the intensive care unit with oxygen cells and around-the-clock monitoring. 

If there are no complications immediately after the operation, the dog leaves the hospital with a good, happy, and cheerful feeling. It is a costly process. Dog collapsed trachea surgery cost is between $4,000 and $5,000, but more expensive in areas like Chicago and New York. 

A specialized tracheal stent for dogs has been around for about ten years. They improved significantly over this period. We assume that endotracheal intubation will become more common as stents continue to grow, and technology is developing.

FAQs on Euthanize a Dog with Tracheal Collapse

Can a collapsed trachea kill a dog?

The trachea narrowing in dogs can be so stiff that insufficient air can enter the lungs, and infected dogs can die from shortness of breath. However, the news is not entirely wrong. Most utmost dogs with this condition develop a cough, but they do not experience shortness of breath.

Is collapsed trachea in dogs painful?

Severe coughing is the main symptom of tracheitis in dogs, but other signs may include blue gums, shortness of breath, and a lack of appetite to run. In general, symptoms may become more apparent when your pet eats, drinks, or gets aroused.

How can I treat my dogs collapsed trachea at home?

Cough suppression should be the aim. In fact, persistent coughing can cause irritation and pain. A unique herbal mixture, such as Resp Aid, lubricates the mucous membranes and thus reduces coughing. For reducing inflammation, corticosteroids help a dog with a collapsed trachea. Natural anti-inflammatory cassava herb is rich in corticosteroids.

Final Verdict

After reading this guide, you have got the answer of when to euthanize a dog with tracheal collapse. Also, you have come to know a brief about the tracheal collapse.

As a dog is your most faithful furry friend, I hope you will be more conscious about this. For more info you can talk to your personal vet.

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Coco is a regular content writer of pet daily press and working on wildlife animal health. Billy researched on hundreds of dog health issues, foods, medicines and dog's behaviours. He currently lives in Orlando, FL. He owns a Golden Retriever and a Great Pyrenees. His wife also has two cats.

8 thoughts on “When to Euthanize a Dog with Tracheal Collapse?”

  1. We have a 17 year old peekaboo and she has severe arthritic issues as well as blindness. She is no different than a 2 year old child that needs constant attention and love ? She eats and is very alert to her surroundings and food and water.
    (loves treats and takes her meds)
    we will continue to take care of her until its her natural time to cross the rainbow ? bridge .

  2. Our wonderful little dog (a corgi) – “Kirby” is about 14 yrs. old / “quite” overweight … and diagnosed with
    a *Collapsed Trachea > about six months ago . He coughs a lot , breathes heavily , and in general distress .
    He moves about actively , but eventually runs out of steam and goes to lay down to sleep . Can anyone recommend a good liquid “cough suppressant” > that actually works ? Everything *we’ve tried hasn’t worked but so open to whats helped to your dog ?

    Many thanks ,

    Arlie & Luci Carstens / July 2021

    • Our dog (a 12 lb maltipoo) experienced a collapsed trachea while undergoing cataract surgery in Jacksonville,FL (likely due to the ventilator used during surgery). Two excellent doctors (the ophthalmologist and the ER doc) recommended a special “elixir” custom compounded by a pharmacist in Jacksonville – here’s the info: ISUPREL CMPD ELIX” from Atkinson’s pharmacy, 1994-A Kingsley Ave., Orange Park, Fl 32073 (they will ship anywhere). When Floie has a ‘coughing spell’ a 1.5 ml dose really seems to help (the coughing is self-perpetuating since coughing irritates the trachea). The other med that works great when nothing else does is cough medicine based on hydrocodone called “HYDROMET SYP (syrup)”. Most pharmacies refused to fill the vets prescription since hydracodone is a “controlled substance” but we are now over that hurdle and get our refills from a local pharmacy. We think our 4 yo Floie will live a few more years comfortably. I Googled “canine collapsed trachea” (how I found this site) and saw lots of info on surgical solutions, stents, etc. and meds. Most seemed problematic. Good luck!

  3. My fur baby is a shih tzu , is going on 15’ was recently diagnosed with tracheal collapse when got him a X-ray done , I kind of new his diagnosed bye his symptoms, but to be certain I got him a X-ray . It. Wasn’t real bad but definitely has some blockage, then he 75% blind and some neurological as well . So I have to give him more attention then before . He eat, not as much before and he drinks thats when he’s Coughs suppress at time but it’s all day. He loves sleeping during the day ! And up at night For the most I keep him comfortable., great how he like treated and give him his time needed . I was told it’s part of old age . Which is hard for me to accept as well .

  4. I had a little black pug named Dio he has tracheal collapse and it was so bad he could not relax and it was constant coughing and gagging and pabicking. I took him to an emergency vet and they told me what it was and basically just told me take him home without very many if any instructions. I took him home and he was coyghing and choking and could not relax it was just getting worse I took him back amgry they duidn’t take a minute to explain anyuthing to me nor give me any instructions. When I took him back the second toime they kept him to put him down. It was the most horrible thing in my life and I am crying now just thinkling about it. They acted like he should be fine but the gagging just got worse. Vets need to give better instruction and suggest what would help . I paid $800.00 which would have been no problem if he could have really been ok at all. I paiod another 200.00 when I went back so they could put him down it was obvious he was not able to breath or relax. I felt robbed of my best friend my little guy and I felt like I was given false hope for a minute and left to watch him choke to death. I will never return to that hospital again. Screw you Vtech!! Thanks for nothing!!

  5. My baby is a 14 1/2 years of age loving standard size Yorkshire Terrier. He was diagnosed with trachea collapse about two years ago. All the symptoms described in this article apply to his condition. He’s been on hydrocodone 5mg for coughing since the diagnosis. Apoquel for allergies. When he coughs I gently rub his throat applying no pressure. I then give him a few bits of his favorite treats and this relieves his anxiety. In my family in the past five years we have lost three terriers; the mother, age 15, treated with insulin daily for diabetes, the father, age 13, medicated for a long time for control of seizures caused by a brain tumor, a brother, age 13, also developed seizures for the same reason. Then, his surviving brother, age 14, is on insulin for diabetes, is blind and has hearing impairment. This one belongs to my daughter. They have all been raised with loving protection and spoiled care. But its most painful and sad to tearfully accept that sometimes euthanasia is the only relief for our suffering furry babies. My best wishes goes to all pet parents who have an incurable sick furry baby. Our pets are family, loved like family sometimes even more and when they are gone, they are missed for always.

  6. Our little Abby six lb yorkie. Had a trache stent two years ago we were told it woul last 10yrs.She is eleven yrs old in good health we thought. For past months she has been coughing and gagging they first said she was in heart failure put on heart meds lasix predinslone and other meds hydrocone and breathing treatments. Nothing seem to help it got so bad we couldn’t pick her up without it hurting her. We rushed her to the ER clinic where they informed us she has a disease not curable. We could have her put down because she will smother and die. My husband and i have cried now for two days. I have ask GOD to let her stay with us untill she dies and let it be in our arms where she loves to be. Ahe has a dieseased lung cause from the stenf so now we will soon have to say goodby to the best and sweetest friend you could ever have. god has to help us thru this cause we will need all the help we can get to make it thru this.Please if you pray remember little Abby and mom and dad.It’s gonna be hard saying good by.


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