Q. My 8 year old Bichon Frisé male all of a sudden started weezing very load at night & coughs as well during the day for last 2 days, what should I do?

A. I recommend getting your dog seen by your vet as soon as possible. He may have an upper respiratory infection or some irritation to his throat, but he could have a more serious condition called collapsing trachea.

It's much more common in toy breeds, such as poodles and Chihuahuas, but it can happen in other breeds too.

Occasionally, the trachea will lose its rigidity and collapse while the dog is breathing. For unknown reasons, the cartilage rings weaken and the trachea no longer has proper support. It happens most often as a result of excitement or exercise.

Examination with the fingers and radiographs (x-rays) will generally confirm the diagnosis. Depending upon the severity of the condition, medications will help. Veterinarians usually prescribe drugs to help dilate the airways. The coughing is controlled by cough suppressants such as Torbutrol. If the pet is obese, we suggest a stricter diet. Finally, activity should be restricted and not encouraged. Dogs with collapsing tracheas should wear harnesses instead of collars in order to take any pressure off of the trachea. With the help of medication and modification of lifestyle, the collapsing trachea can be controlled but seldom cured. In severe cases, surgery to help open the airways may be beneficial, but most cases are managed medically not surgically.

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