Become a digitalPLUS subscriber. 99¢ for 4 weeks.
Lifestyle Pets

Ask the Pet Expert | Collapsed trachea

I have a 14-year-old female West Highland terrier. She was recently diagnosed with a collapsed trachea.  She is eating and drinking fine. She has this horrible seal-like cough upon rising from a supine position and when she overexerts herself. My vet has been trying to treat her with Prednisone, antibiotics and a bronchodilator. Nothing seems to be helping her. I was thinking about taking her to someone else for a second opinion, but I am not sure it would do any good. Are there any other treatments besides surgery for a collapsed trachea?

Collapsing trachea can be a difficult diagnosis, often needing fluoroscopy to definitely identify it. It is most often a syndrome in smaller-breed dogs, like Yorkshire terriers, Pomeranians, Chihuahuas and other similar-sized dogs. The ideal treatment for collapsing trachea is surgery, and there are specialists at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicinel doing some amazing work with interventional radiology for this syndrome. However, surgery in this area can be risky and is often not practical for many owners or their pets. There are medications that can be used to help control the cough associated with a collapsing trachea (i.e., cough suppressants) but not cure it. In addition, one of the best things that can be done is to be sure your pet is not overweight. An overweight or obese dog who is suffering from collapsing trachea will definitely see improvement in symptoms by appropriate weight loss. 

This week's expert is Dr. Meghan W. Johnston of Hunt Valley Animal Hospital. Send your questions to

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
  • Collared - Baltimore Sun readers' pets
    Collared - Baltimore Sun readers' pets

    Read about local pets, or share your own story. We're interested in cats and dogs, but also hamsters, hedgehogs, turtles, horses, chickens -- the whole pet gamut. For more information, email and be sure to put "Collared" in the subject line.

  • Four new dog breeds added to American Kennel Club
    Four new dog breeds added to American Kennel Club

    The American Kennel Club has recognized four more dog breeds, including a Spanish fishing dog and a South African guard dog, in a move allowing them to compete in prestigious canine competitions nationwide.

  • Baltimore Humane Society opening pet-food bank
    Baltimore Humane Society opening pet-food bank

    The Baltimore Humane Society is opening a new food bank for people who need assistance with the cost of feeding their pets.

  • Meet Bay Bay
    Meet Bay Bay

    Meet Bay Bay, the Pet of the Week at the SPCA of Anne Arundel County. She's been waiting for a forever home for a whole year. Visit for more information.

  • DogFest 2014: The Best of the Fest
    DogFest 2014: The Best of the Fest

    We narrowed it down to 26 "top dogs" from this year's DogFest, hosted by the Baltimore Humane Society and photographed by Mary Swift Photography, and here they are -- along with the winners in the categories of "best costume," "best smile," and "best overall" based on readers' votes.

  • Celebrate the holidays with pet safety in mind
    Celebrate the holidays with pet safety in mind

    How can we make the holiday season safer and happier for our pets?