When to Euthanize a Dog With Tracheal Collapse?

Deciding on the correct time to euthanize a dog with tracheal collapse can be difficult. You want to ensure that your dog experiences the least amount of pain possible while still making sure that they get the most out of life. But when is it time to put down a dog with tracheal collapse?

When to euthanize a dog with collapsed trachea

When to put a dog to sleep with tracheal collapse

Owners of dogs with tracheal collapse are often left with the hard decision of whether or not to euthanize their dogs. This is especially true when medical treatment has been attempted without success. There are several factors that should be taken into consideration when making this decision.

The first factor is your dog’s quality of life. If your dog is miserable most of the time and/or has repeated episodes where he can’t breathe and needs to be hospitalized, then it may be time to consider euthanasia. Other indications include severe weight loss and persistent pneumonia. Dogs with advanced tracheal collapse will often have a very poor quality of life, but if you are uncertain, discuss the issue with your veterinarian.

In some cases, treatment can be successful, but not every dog will respond well to treatment. Keep in mind that different dogs will tolerate different levels of discomfort from their condition, so an owner’s subjective opinion about how badly his dog is suffering is important as well. In addition, owners must decide if they are willing to continue trying different treatment options or if they want to stop trying new therapies.

If you cannot afford further testing or treatment for your dog then euthanasia should be considered as well. Tracheal collapse can be expensive to treat, especially if a surgical procedure is required.

Stages of tracheal collapse in dogs

Tracheal collapse in dogs can occur at any age, but it is most common in older animals. Typically, dogs with tracheal collapse show signs of respiratory difficulty. When the condition becomes severe, these signs include rapid breathing, cough, and labored breathing.

In the first stage, the trachea gradually narrows. The animal might have a slight cough or wheezing, but it isn’t yet apparent unless you know what to look for.

In the second stage of tracheal collapse in dogs, you’ll notice some signs including wheezing and labored breathing. The dog may yawn frequently and open its mouth after you touch his throat area as if it’s trying to catch its breath or might start coughing or wheezing when he lies down or after he eats or drinks something cold or when he’s excited or exercised or gets overexcited.

At the end stages of tracheal collapse, dogs still cough and retch when they get excited or scared. This is one of the most painful things that a dog can experience. It is not uncommon for these dogs to have a dry heave and then vomit afterward. Other signs of collapse include gagging, retching, lack of appetite, bluish mucous membranes, and vomiting bile after eating or drinking.

How long can a dog live with tracheal collapse?

A dog with a collapsing trachea will survive anywhere from 2 to 4 years after being diagnosed. The survival rate can be doubled by surgical operations.

Tracheal collapse causes many dogs to have shortened lifespans, but it is possible for your pet to live comfortably for years after being diagnosed. Dogs that are diagnosed early on have a longer lifespan than those that aren’t diagnosed until later stages.

Dog tracheal collapse home treatment

The vaporizer with essential oils can help extend your pet’s life and improve its quality of life by helping him breathe more easily during an episode of tracheal collapse or when he’s experiencing other breathing problems.

Depending on the severity of the collapse, a tracheal collapse will most commonly be treated with a cough suppressant.

Your dog will get a prescription for a corticosteroid or a bronchodilator that will help ease the pressure in your dog’s airway. These can help ease the irritation in your dog’s throat and will help prevent any future damage to your dog’s trachea.

If these treatments do not work or your dog’s tracheal collapse is more severe, your veterinarian may suggest surgery for your dog. This surgery places prosthetic rings around your dog’s trachea that are meant to help support the airway and keep it open for easy breathing.

The surgery has around a 75% success rate in previously healthy dogs. If your dog is over 6 years old, it may have a much lower success rate in surgery. This is a highly specialized surgery that will not be done everywhere and may be costly.

In most cases, tracheal collapse can not be prevented. The ailment is based on poor genetics that results in weak cartilage around the trachea. In these situations, the trachea will collapse on its own without much excessive external force.

If you have smaller dogs, it is also important to supervise them when around bigger dogs or children. The slightest force from a bigger animal can cause an already comprised trachea to collapse.

Obesity is one of the most common causes, so getting your dog on a healthy, well-managed diet will reduce many of his symptoms, including the cough caused by his collapsing trachea.

Dogs should be walked on a harness to prevent their collar from compressing the trachea and causing a worse cough. Walks should also be changed to early morning and late evening when the weather is cooler.

While these changes can significantly improve your dog’s quality of life, this is a progressive disease. As the symptoms worsen, a veterinarian may suggest surgery to fit a stent, which would allow better support for the trachea and keep the airways open. Unfortunately, stents fail over time, so the operation would need to be repeated a few years later.

Collapsed trachea in dogs worse at night

Based on my experience with Oliver, I believe that coughs in dogs with collapsing tracheas are worse at night than during the day. When he first came home from the hospital, he was awake all night coughing, but by morning he was exhausted and slept most of the day.

My dog has tracheal collapse and I have no money

The good news is that many dogs respond well to medical treatment, which usually involves medication to relax the airway muscles that cause coughing. In addition, there are several surgical procedures that can offer excellent results.

Unfortunately, these treatments are expensive: The cost of a typical surgery ranges from $1,500 to $4,000 and can go as high as $8,000 depending on your dog’s size and how advanced the condition is. However, there is financial assistance available for those who need it.

Payment plans

If you are unable to afford your dog’s veterinary care, you should first talk with your vet about setting up a payment plan for your pet’s treatments. Some veterinarians will allow clients to work out a plan of payments that might require an initial deposit and then monthly payments until the bill is paid off.

Local animal shelters or humane societies

You should contact several local animal shelters or humane societies in your area and ask if they have any sort of financial assistance programs for medical costs for pets. Some shelters may have access to funds from charitable donations that have been set aside specifically for this purpose.

Paws 4 A Cure

Paws 4 A Cure is a nonprofit group that helps people with all breeds of dogs who need veterinary care. The foundation can help with costs for conditions such as cancer and diabetes but must approve requests before treatment begins.

The Pet Fund

The Pet Fund is an organization that helps pet owners with financial assistance for their dogs and cats. This fund is based on donations, so there may be a waiting list.


Crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe can be a great way to raise money for your dog’s treatment.

Credit card

Some credit cards offer 0% APR for the first 12 months and others offer longer periods. This gives you the extra time needed to get your finances back in order without having to pay interest on the transaction.

Please note: This list is maintained for informational purposes only. We cannot guarantee that these organizations will provide financial assistance in all cases.

Conclusion of euthanizing a dog with tracheal collapse

You can prevent your dog from getting tracheal collapse, but once it has the disease, there is no cure. Tracheal collapse is a progressive disease, and over time it will get worse. Some dogs respond to medication for a while, but eventually, they begin having difficulty breathing even with medication. When this happens, the quality of life becomes very poor because they struggle to breathe even when resting.

If your dog is having trouble breathing, then you must talk to your veterinarian about what options are available. Your vet may be able to help relieve some of the dog’s breathing difficulties through medications and other treatments.

When deciding if it is time to euthanize a dog with tracheal collapse or not, you must consider how much the dog is suffering and how much its quality of life has diminished. It’s not fair to keep a dog alive just because you don’t want to let go.

Tracheal Collapse in Dogs

Hannah Elizabeth is an English animal behavior author, having written for several online publications. With a degree in Animal Behaviour and over a decade of practical animal husbandry experience, Hannah's articles cover everything from pet care to wildlife conservation. When she isn't creating content for blog posts, Hannah enjoys long walks with her Rottweiler cross Senna, reading fantasy novels and breeding aquarium shrimp.

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