My dog’s chronic cough was caused by a collapsed trachea and the current medication isn’t working. What are some other treatment options?

Original Question: Barney, my six-year-old Chihuahua, developed a cough three weeks ago. When he stood up, he would cough incessantly for 10 minutes. Each night, he awakened twice and had 10 minute coughs. The vet prescribed Clavamox. That did not help. A week later (two weeks ago), the vet took an x-ray and prescribed Hycodan. Barney stopped coughing. The X-ray shows a partially collapsed trachea. Last week, I called the vet. I was instructed to keep using the cough medicine. Environment: I closed the sale of my house in Vaughan Barney and Heidi spent a couple of days at a doggie daycare during the move. Heidi has not coughed We are living in a rental apartment for two months until the new house is ready. There was 1 inch of dust on the air conditioner vent when we moved into the apartment I bought two Hepa air cleaners and I am running a humidifier because the air is very dry Both dogs have had harnesses since day one with me History: Barney and Heidi are both rescues Barney had a honking cough a month after I got home from the shelter. Two vets said it was kennel cough When Barney gets anxious, he wheezes Both dogs have good appetites and have lots of energy Your thoughts? - Jim

My dog’s chronic cough was caused by a collapsed trachea and the current medication isn’t working.  What are some other treatment options? Mar 1, 2018

Hi Jim,

This is pretty typical.  I’m not surprised the Clavamox didn’t work.  It was a good idea to use it though in case there was any infection contributing to the problem.

Collapsing trachea is extremely common in these dogs. It can be diagnosed on a X-ray but they have to be taken at the right moment while the dog is actively inhaling.  I usually have to sedate a dog just slightly to make them breath slowly and deeply in order to snap the X-ray at the right moment.

I like using Hycodan for this diagnosis.  From what I understand, the best thing to use is something called ‘tracheal eilxir’ which is a liquid mixture of a few drugs. Other medications are considered but have varying degrees of success. And of course there is a very expensive surgery where they place a stent over the collapsed area to prevent it from further narrowing.

All the best.

Dr. Clayton Greenway

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