Collapsed trachea is an extremely common condition for certain dog breeds, but many dog parents don’t understand what it is or how to treat it. In this episode, Dr. Judy Morgan explains the causes and symptoms behind collapsed trachea and collapsed bronchus in dogs. She also shares some valuable tips for reducing your dog's symptoms with environmental changes, diet, and other holistic treatments. Dr. Morgan is an integrative veterinarian with over 37 years of experience, so she has so much great insight to share on this topic.
- What causes collapsed trachea in dogs? (1:31)
- Pollen and other allergies can make this issue worse (3:50)
- Collapsed trachea will continue to get worse over time if untreated (5:22)
- Certain breeds like Yorkies and Maltese are especially prone to collapsed trachea (8:04)
- Do collars make collapsed trachea worse? (8:48)
- What are the symptoms of collapsed trachea, and how is it diagnosed? (9:23)
- How conventional vets treat collapsed trachea (14:00)
- How to treat collapsed trachea holistically (17:20)
- Electro acupuncture can help stimulate the collapsing muscles (20:39)
- Great air quality is especially important for dogs with collapsed trachea (22:28)
- How to connect with Dr. Morgan (26:47)
What is a Collapsed Trachea?
Collapsed Trachea is a degenerative respiratory condition in dogs that is characterized by a goose-like honking cough. Small breed dogs, such as Yorkshire Terriers, Maltese, Mini-Schnauzers, and small terrier breeds are the most commonly affected, although it can afflict dogs of all shapes and sizes.
Tracheal Collapse refers to the gradual collapse of the trachea, which connects the nasal passages to the lungs. The trachea, sometimes known as the "windpipe," is a tube that links the throat and lungs. It is supported by cartilage rings that help hold it open to enable air to flow freely from the mouth to the lungs and back again.
The structural rings of the trachea are closer to a C-shape, rather than perfect circles. A tracheal collapse occurs when these rings become increasingly weak and can no longer fully support the airway. The soft tissue starts to collapse, eventually blocking the trachea and, with it, the passage of air.
“So it narrows the airway, and when they cough, they're forcibly trying to open that up, to get the air back out. So it is a noisy event. And it definitely has triggers, stress, irritants to the airway, excitement. So these dogs have to live a modified lifestyle, and we have to be really careful what we do with their environment so that we don't set things off.” - Dr. Judy Morgan
Symptoms of a Collapsed Trachea in Dogs
Symptoms of a Collapsed Trachea in dogs include a honking, goose-like cough, labored or rapid breathing, blue or purple gums from lack of oxygen in the bloodstream, and fainting. These symptoms can be worsened by stress, excitement, exercise, allergies, obesity, heat, smoke, eating or drinking, or any external pressure on the throat.
Additionally, when a dog experiences an episode and is struggling for breath, this can cause them a lot of stress and anxiety. This extra stress in turn worsens the symptoms of collapsed trachea, leading to further progression of this degenerative condition. Therefore managing and alleviating a dog’s anxiety and stress is vital.
“One of the big things is controlling that anxiety. ..They go into panic mode, and then that panic mode makes it even worse. So it's really important that we don't allow these animals to get into that cascade of anxiety.” - Dr. Judy Morgan
Conventional Treatments for Tracheal Collapse in Dogs
Conventional treatments for dogs with a collapsed trachea include several pharmaceuticals, to manage all the symptoms of a tracheal collapse. This includes cough suppressants, bronchodilators, sedatives, opioids, antibiotics, and anabolic steroids. Unfortunately, along with the possible side effects of each of these medications, these drugs also have the potential to interact with each other, as well as any other medications your pet may be on.
“Unfortunately, all of the traditional medications that we would use would have some side effects that we would then have to balance out. And so you can end up in that cascade of ‘I'm giving this drug to solve this problem. But now I need this drug to solve the side effects of that. And now I need this drug because..’–it's just a cascade.” - Dr. Judy Morgan
Natural Remedies for Collapsed Trachea in Dogs
While collapsed trachea currently has no cure, we can try to slow the progression of the condition, and keep our dogs comfortable. This includes avoiding and alleviating unnecessary stress and anxiety, not exposing them to a lot of pollen during allergy season, not over exercising, avoiding outdoors when it’s too hot and humid, and getting your dog to a healthy weight. Obesity can make it more difficult for your dog to breathe, so a change in diet may be necessary if your dog is overweight.
“From a Chinese medicine perspective, we want to feed foods that are going to help with the energy, the Qi, the ability of that muscle to actually work and do what it's supposed to do. And we also want to support the lungs and we want to decrease any phlegm production. So for phlegm, just easy treats–pears, apples, you can add a little bit of ground peppermint to their diet. Ginger works really well. Clams are amazing for draining phlegm. - Dr. Judy Morgan
More tips from Dr. Morgan includes bone broth to strengthen the cartilage of the trachea, and natural sources of glucosamine, chondroitin, and hyaluronic acid, such as deer antler velvet and green lipped mussels. Honey is also a great option for a natural cough suppressant, and locally sourced honey can also help with your dog’s allergies.
“I remember when Odie would have fits that I couldn't get him to stop, it would be honey, and then the Hemp Dog Health’s EASE, to reduce inflammation and calm him down.” - Angela Ardolino
Hemp for Collapsed Trachea in Dogs
A Full Spectrum Hemp Extract has been shown to manage each of the previously mentioned symptoms that are associated with collapsed trachea in dogs, without the risk of adverse side effects and dangerous interactions that pharmaceuticals can bring.
A Full Spectrum Hemp Extract can help relieve irritation and pressure in the pulmonary system, as well as prevent further degeneration of the trachea and supporting cartilage, by combatting chronic inflammation. Hemp has also been shown to help manage stress and anxiety, a great option for alleviating the stress that comes with episodes of tracheal collapse. Another study stated that hemp had shown “bronchodilator effects by acting on the airway smooth muscle, and may be beneficial in airway hyperreactivity.”
Related: Hemp for Collapsed Trachea in Dogs
Collapsing trachea is one of the most prevalent canine respiratory problems. While there is no cure for a collapsed trachea in dogs, you can help manage your pet’s symptoms with some lifestyle changes, and natural supplements to reduce anxiety and relieve inflammation.
If your dog is experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, make sure to discuss with your holistic veterinarian. Final diagnosis may require tests such as radiograph, echocardiogram, or fluoroscopy.
Listen to the whole episode above for all of Dr. Judy Morgan’s holistic recommendations for dogs with collapsed trachea.
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About Angela Ardolino
Accordingly, she uses Full Spectrum Hemp Extract on all her pets at her rescue farm every day since 2016. Angela has five dogs. Odie a 15-year-old mini-schnauzer, Nina a 9-year-old Doberman. Jolene a 9-year-old mutt, Maza a 9-year-old mutt, and Rhemi a 9-year-old poodle. In addition, she has 4-10 more any time she is fostering or boarding. She is a member of the Society of Cannabis Clinicians and the Veterinary Cannabis Association. In fact, Angela has educated hundreds of medical doctors and veterinarians on the therapeutic uses of medical cannabis on animals.
About Dr. Judy MorganDr. Judy has over 37 years experience as an integrative veterinarian, acupuncturist, chiropractor, food therapist, author, and speaker. Her goal is to change the lives of pets by educating and empowering pet parents worldwide in the use of natural healing therapies, and minimizing the use of chemicals, vaccinations, and poor quality processed food. She has also won many awards such as: 2018 Woman of the Year in the Pet Industry, 2019 Pet Age Woman of Influence, 2019 IAOTP Veterinarian of the Year, 2019 Veterinarian Hero Award Nominee and 2021 IAOTP Empowered Woman of the Year.