Trachea Collapse In Pugs

Beans the pug trachea collapse

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Before we ever got a pug, I had read that trachea collapse is common in pugs. I knew that pugs should wear harnesses instead of collars to avoid pressure in their neck area. We’ve always used harnesses with both of our pugs.

A couple months ago, my pug Beans started choking or gagging a bit while eating her food. We had started a new type of dog food, so I thought it was just the result of the change in kibble size. We bought this slow feed bowl in size small, which forces her to slow down while eating, and was successful at preventing her choking.

Then we realized she was having coughing fits, seemingly at random. So we went to the vet. At first, they just gave us an antibiotic. It didn’t seem to help. He listened to her heart and neck, and said it sounded like the cough was starting in her neck so it was likely collapsed trachea. However, he also had us do a blood test to rule out heartworm. It came back negative, so he decided it was in fact a collapsed trachea. We were given a cough suppressant for dogs, that Beans will take for the rest of her life now.

Beans tongue

That was about a month ago, and the medication seems to help significantly. She still coughs, but for much shorter spans of time than she was at first. We are still working on finding a balance for how often to give her medication. Some days, just one pill last her all day, and other days she starts coughing a lot in the afternoon so we give her a second. We’ve felt like there may be a connection between her coughing more when it is hotter and/or more humid, but we aren’t certain yet. However, she’s always started panting easily when it’s hot outside, so we will certainly be using the a/c very generously for her once summer hits.

Trachea collapse in pugs. How to help your dog live well with trachea collapse

We were told that in young dogs, surgery is an option but with Beans being 14 it would be very risky. So, we are just trying to keep her comfortable as much as possible. While collapsed trachea can cause discomfort, from what I have read, it usually does not reduce lifespan which is reassuring. It is more problematic in overweight pugs. I’ve always had a hard time determining if Beans is overweight, because she has a really excessive amount of skin. She feels lighter than Frank, but appears much heavier. He has a defined waist, for example, and she doesn’t. I can grab a full fistful of skin off of her back without it even making her remaining skin taught, and two handfuls off of her neck area. We’ve had some vets say she is only in need of losing 1-2 pounds, and others say she is obese which makes it hard to know who to believe. Our plan is to try her on just a bit less food at each mealtime (adding up to roughly 1/8th of a cup less per day) to try to get her down a pound or two, and then from there see if we think she needs to lose more or not. It’s funny how heavy she appears in some photos (like the tongue one above) compared to others, like the featured image where you see her whole body on the couch.

So far, things seem to be going pretty well. I wish she didn’t have this health issue, but I am thankful that treatment is available to let her stay comfortable and happy. She seems to have as much energy and happiness as she always has. Just a small bump in the road!

If you have a dog with trachea collapse feel free to share your experience, tips or advice in the comments.

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Comments 3

  • Georgie

    Hi I adopt old pugs those one they cant be rehome for health reason. I have a 11 years old boy Leo, come to my care very sick, underweight, ear infection, cough, neck and dhoulder injury, blind, one eye ball is leaking , he hardly was able to walk. Few months later and many vet visit later Leo started getting better. He have a good appetite put on weight, nevk and shoulder healed, earinfection gone . How ever we struggle with this cough , we had antibiotics treatment over and over . Its settle a bit than we back to zero agsin. Reading your story more and more i think Leo have a same ptoblem like your pug. Also Leo cant hold his poo he not notice when he poo, just try to gind a right nappy for him, also my other pug Babushka need a nappy too now as she cant use her back legs anymore for disk related problem. She getting a wheelchair soon. So thanks all your comment it is very helpfull to hear other pug owners experience Cheers

  • This gives me hope. My Willoughby was just diagnosed today w/collapsed trachea. He’s getting oxygen, cough suppressants & steroids right now. I’m hoping it all helps. He’s a rescue that I got a year ago. I think he’s about 10. I love him so much & i’ve been crying all day, just so upset. Your post has given me hope. Thank you!

    • Emmy - Author of Post,

      Sorry to hear about your Willoughby’s struggles! My Beans is still with us now, about 18 months since I originally wrote this post. Her coughing is not well maintained with medication, most mornings she wakes me up with her coughing. But it does help some. On occasion when i’ve forgotten a dose she definitely coughs more. Despite coughing a lot even with meds, she seems happy so i’m grateful for that and we will keep doing what we can to support her until she seems to be suffering but she definitely doesn’t seem to be. She’s prone to anxiety so I think if she were tense or unhappy regularly we would definitely be able to tell.

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