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Collapsing Trachea in a Labrador. Anyone any Experience?

(14 Posts)
Topseyt Fri 05-Aug-16 14:51:33

I have a 12 year old labrador who up until now, has generally been very healthy, but now may have developed this condition in his old age. I was wondering if any dog owners here had any experience of a dog with this, and if so how you manage the condition? What do you find works or doesn't work?

Recently, said labrador has developed a loud rasping noise as he breathed. It isn't there all of the time and rarely if he is resting, but it does tend to happen if he tries to exercise at all or gets warm (so he now only has very short walks at cooler times of the day). He did briefly collapse struggling for breath, and I took him to the vet.

There is no sign of infection. He doesn't appear to be ill most of the time. Antibiotics made no difference. The vet did find him extremely sensitive around the area of his windpipe by just feeling him lightly on his neck. The suspicion is "collapsing trachea", though short of putting him under general anaesthetic to do an endoscopy that is not confirmed.

I have him on prednisolone to keep inflamation down, which may be helping a little. I am slightly reluctant to go down the endoscopy route due to his age, but obviously will if totally necessary and if the prednisolone doesn't get proper control.

Any advice or suggestions gratefully received.

Deadnettle Sat 06-Aug-16 12:58:41

My poodle may have collapsing trachea but its not confirmed as she hasn't had an endoscopy yet and a dog trainer yanked her by her neck so it could be an injury. She is also only 1 so a lot younger than your lab.

It's a lot better now than it was and doesn't seem to bother her much but she is very sensitive around her neck. She is never ever walked using her collar, she has a harness that doesn't touch her neck and her collar is very loose. She is also never grabbed by her collar. We also make sure never to touch her neck unless we have to, to avoid irritating her throat.

Sorry, I don't really have any advice other than don't walk your lab on his collar. I hope he does better soon.

Topseyt Sat 06-Aug-16 17:54:38

Thanks Deadnettle. I have been trying to accustom him to walking on a head collar to reduce the pressure on his neck.

He used to use one when he was a youngster and my DD3 was still a toddler, before he had learned to walk well to heel. Haven't needed it for years though and am having difficulty re-introducing it now.

I guess I am also a tad nervous about what an endoscopy might show in a lab of his age. He is comfortable for now though.

Hope your poodle continues to improve.

SauvignonBlanche Sat 06-Aug-16 18:04:02

My Lab started this awful noisy breathing about a year ago. DH took him to the vet and reported back that it was his larynx, it was down to his age and there was nothing they could do. sad hmm

People turn and look, his breathing is so noisy. He only manages very short walks and has to stop for rests.

reallyanotherone Sat 06-Aug-16 18:10:01

we had a yorkie with it.

Nothing to be done except treat the symptoms. We did end up taking him to a specialist for a definitive diagnosis only because his owner (elderly relative) kept taking him to the vet wanting them to do something, and they kept trialling different treatments in case it was something else.

Topseyt Sat 06-Aug-16 18:27:09


We are keeping walks short and at cooler times of day.

I understand it will be a case of controlling symptoms rather than cure,

The vet said that it is rather more common in smaller breeds, but apparently Labradors often have relatively narrow tracheas compared to other large dogs so it isn't unknown in them.

Sauvignon, I know what you mean about the noisy breathing. I can hear my lab coming a while before I see him. It is still OK when he is at rest but it takes very little exertion at all for it to start up again.

SauvignonBlanche Sat 06-Aug-16 18:46:37

All the local dog walkers know my dog and when he's collapsed whilst out with one of the DCs they've had offers of lifts home. He has epilepsy as well as not being able to breathe very well. If I'm off I always drive the dog to the park, our dog walker wouldn't take him any further than a couple of hundred yards.

He only breathes really loudly at rest in the heat and spends most of the day sleeping on the lawn. I do worry sometimes that we should be thinking about having him PTS but when he's not gasping for breath he's perfectly happy and doesn't seem distressed by his dyspnoae it just bothers everyone else.

Topseyt Sat 06-Aug-16 19:19:30

We had a couple of collapses struggling to breathe. Fortunately quick recovery, and one was in our garden when he had decided to run and pick up one of his toys.

The other was into a bed of nettles when out on a very short walk and he got excited to see one of his doggie friends.

Will be keeping going with the prednisolone for now.

Loadingpleasewait Sun 07-Aug-16 14:19:47

Sounds like he has laryngeal paralysis which is fairly common in elderly labs. There is a operation called a laryngeal tieback which can help. Is he insured? He would probably need referral to a specialist for the surgery. It can make a massive difference to their quality of life.

LilCamper Sun 07-Aug-16 15:09:23

You need a body harness like the Dog Games Perfect Fit and NOT a head harness.

Darklane Sun 07-Aug-16 22:20:42

I have several yorkies, the breed being small sometimes gets this.
A harness s the best thing to use for walks. If they start to "honk" meaning the start of an attack, you can often stop it in its tracks by opening their mouth very wide with both hands &, at the same time, gently blowing in their nostrils.

TweedAddict Sun 07-Aug-16 22:46:35

Our lab suffers too, we have almost lost him a few times and and one point the vet gave him weeks too live. Now that was 2years ago and he is much happier dog and so much healthier.

We found that count tolerate the steroids very well and his breathing was very uncontrollable. But upping the exercise slowing and reducing his weight right down has worked wonders. He must be the fitting the lab out there and he is a Chucky sort. As for controlling an attack the best thing we find is too actually use his brain so he stops thinking that he can't breathe. Food works wonders, we ask him to a series of sit/paw/come/stay etc, as a lab he is overruled by food. It stops him panicking and then once he has calmed down he gets a tiny treat.

Not saying this will work for you but it's with our boy it's mind over matter and not to panic ourselves. He was 5 when he had the first issues and 7 1/2 now. We don't how long we will have him for but he won't be going on long term steroids again, he has a few days dose after an cough but that's it.

Topseyt Mon 08-Aug-16 16:18:05

Thanks for the further responses. Some useful tips there.

I am just starting to look at the perfect fit harness. I hadn't seen that one. Is it one that works to stop pulling? He doesn't pull much anymore, but would be a powerhouse on a harness if he did decide to.

I used to have another anti-pull harness for him when he was younger and still learning to walk properly on the lead. It was one of those which lifted their front legs up if they pulled. It worked initially, but then the loony labrador decided that he would just go up on his hind legs and lean into it to walk along. shock grin It was quite a look, I can assure you, but I didn't think it was as great an idea as he did (pressure falling on hip joints etc.) so had to stop using it.

He is a fairly slender labrador, weighing about 28 kilos. Not much spare body weight on him, so that isn't an issue and can't reduce it any further. Will remember the tip about blowing gently into his nostrils and see if that works.

He seems to be tolerating the prednisolone well for now, though will be watching that.

Not insured anymore, as it became really expensive and I haven't been able to find it for a reasonable price for the last year or two. I thought I would be wary of what major procedures I put an elderly dog through as well, though will take steps to fund what we need.

LilCamper Tue 09-Aug-16 11:59:49

It is NOT an anti pull harness. If you read the website one of the things it is designed for is dogs with health issues like yours.

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