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Sweet Kitty Seeking Loving Home!

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Stormie the cat is seeking a furever home! Stormie is a 3 year old spayed female. Stormie loves to be the center of attention! She is up to date on all vaccines and heartworm and flea prevention.

She is wonderful with dogs and children, she is a very social kitty.

Please contact us if you would be interested in meeting Stormie!

Inappropriate Elimination

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My cat is having accidents outside the litter box.  What does this mean?

 

Urinating in inappropriate locations has been reported as the number one behavior problem in cats.  In fact, a recent study found that when cats were relinquished to an animal shelter, owners listed inappropriate elimination as the top behavioral reason for giving up their pet.

 

First, it is important to distinguish spraying from other forms of urination.  Spraying involves urinating on a vertical surface, such as a wall, and is typically used to mark territory.  If spray pattern is seen near windows or glass doors, your cat may be responding to strange cats it sees outside.  Urination occurs on horizontal surfaces, such as in the litter pan or on the floor.

 

Inappropriate urination can be due to numerous medical problems.  Diseases that cause an increase in the amount of water a cat drinks can lead to increased urine production.  Diabetes, kidney failure, liver disease, and thyroid gland abnormalities can all result in excessive water intake and more frequent urination.  If a cat is painful, as happens with arthritis and other degenerative diseases, it may be too uncomfortable to climb into the litter pan.

 

There is another group of diseases, collectively known as feline lower urinary tract disease (or FLUTD), that is a common medical reason for urinary accidents.  FLUTD may be caused by inflammation in the urinary bladder, known as feline idiopathic cystitis.  No one knows the exact cause of this inflammation, but stress often is an important factor.

 

Other FLUTD disorders include urinary stones and urethral plugs, a potentially life-threatening condition more often seen in male cats.  If your cat is crying out when urinating, straining to urinate, has blood in the urine, or is urinating in small frequent amounts, an immediate veterinary evaluation is in order.

 

If a thorough work-up by your veterinarian rules out medical causes of inappropriate elimination, there are many behavioral reasons for those urinary accidents.  Some cats have litter substrate aversion and will only use specific types of litter.  One study found clumping, non-scented litter was the most preferred type, but not every cat agrees.  Experiment with different litter types to see which one is used most often by your cat.

Litter box type is also important for many cats, with most choosing non-hooded pans over those with a hood.

 

Be sure you have enough litter boxes for your cat family.  In multi-cat homes, one cat may “claim” a litter pan as his own, and confront other cats when they try to use it.  Placing litter boxes in various locations around the house can help ensure everyone has a peaceful place to eliminate.  There should be one more litter box than number of cats, so if you have three cats, you need to have four litter boxes.

 

The litter pans need to be cleaned regularly.  They should be scooped daily and washed with soapy water at least once every month.  A dirty litter pan is like a stinky port-a-potty!  If there is nowhere else to go, your cat may have no choice but to use the clean Persian rug.  And if conditions in the litter box are frequently found to be unacceptable, your cat may give up on litter boxes altogether.

 

Cats are the only domestic animals that have the instinct to routinely bury their waste – an instinct we can really appreciate.  So if your cat starts having accidents outside the litter box, carefully assess your home environment and have your veterinarian evaluate for an underlying medical cause.

 

 

Parvovirus

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I have seen an increase in patients with parvovirus (or “Parvo”) in Beaumont over the past few weeks.  Canine parvoviral infection is one of the most common and severe infectious diseases of dogs.  It can cause life-threatening damage to your pet’s intestinal tract and immune system.

 

This virus is extremely contagious and strikes rapidly.  It is spread by direct dog-to-dog contact and by contact with contaminated feces (stool), environments or people.  The virus is easily transmitted from one place to another on the feet or fur of dogs, or even on the shoes of people.

 

Not only can the parvovirus be readily transferred from place to place, it is also extremely hardy in the environment.  The virus can remain infectious on contaminated ground for seven months or more.  It is resistant to almost all common household disinfectants, with the exception of bleach.  As a result, your dog can contract parvovirus anywhere pets come together, such as parks, kennels and pet stores.

 

Once the virus enters the body, it attacks and multiples in the bone marrow, intestinal tract and immune system.  All dogs are at risk, but puppies are most susceptible due to their immature immune system.  Adult dogs who are not up to date on their parvovirus vaccination are also at increased risk.

 

Signs of “Parvo” include vomiting, diarrhea (severe and often bloody), lack of appetite, fever, and lethargy or listlessness.  Vomiting and diarrhea can cause rapid dehydration, with most deaths from parvovirus occurring within 48 to 72 hours after clinical signs begin.  Therefore, if you see any of these symptoms in your puppy or dog, you should contact your veterinarian immediately.

 

When a dog develops “Parvo”, treatment can be very expensive and the dog may die despite aggressive treatment.  Therefore, prevention is key!  Your puppy should receive a full series of vaccines, including a vaccination against parvovirus, starting at 6 weeks of age.  Booster shots should be given every 3-4 weeks until your puppy is 16-18 weeks old.  As an adult dog, boosters are given every 1-3 years to provide continued protection against this deadly disease.

Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome

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My senior dog seems confused sometimes and has had some behavior changes such as peeing in the house, which never used to happen.  Can dogs get Alzheimer’s disease?

 

Just as the rest of a dog’s body is affected by aging, so is the brain.  There are similarities between Alzheimer’s disease in humans and what is known as Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome in dogs.

 

In Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome in dogs and Alzheimer’s disease in people, studies have shown that there is an abnormal deposition of amyloid (a protein) in the brain.  This neurotoxic protein is deposited in a similar pattern in both diseases and can result in many of the same behavioral changes.

 

It is always important to first rule out an underlying medical problem as a cause for changes in a senior pet.  For instance, new onset of urinary accidents in the house may be due to kidney disease, a urinary tract infection, or diabetes, just to name a few possible causes.

 

However, once physical and medical problems have been ruled out, there are some clues that your dog may be suffering from cognitive dysfunction:

 

  • Changes in the sleep-wake cycle – Pets that used to sleep normally through the night may now be waking up overnight or sleeping more hours during the day.  Night pacing or vocalization may occur.
  • Disorientation or confusion – Your pet may forgot where a door is that she has gone out of a thousand times before, get stuck in a corner of a previously familiar room or get lost in her own back yard.
  • Housesoiling – Dogs that have been perfectly housetrained for years may now start urinating in the house or may no longer signal to the owner when they have to eliminate.
  • Changes in activity levels – A pet may show a decrease in his activity level, but the opposite may also occur.  He may exhibit restlessness, pacing, or aimless wandering behaviors and seem to be unable to settle.  Excessive licking or other repetitive behaviors may occur.
  • Social interactions altered – A dog that was always super friendly may spend increasing amounts of time alone or become irritable when approached or petted.  She may no longer greet you at the door or be interested in playing.  Conversely, a previously aloof dog may become more attached or even clingy.
  • Difficulty learning or forgetting previously known commands – A dog may have great difficulty adapting to any changes in the household such as an altered schedule.  He may also be unable to perform tasks that he once knew.

 

It has been stated that 50% of dogs over 8 years old have some indications of brain aging.  Progression of signs is typically very gradual, so they often go unnoticed in the early stages of this disease.  Not until changes start to interfere with your dog’s everyday life are the signs typically noted.

 

There are some treatments that have been helpful in improving cognitive dysfunction.  Therapeutic diets with specifically balanced anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids have been developed and may result in improvements as early as 2 to 8 weeks after starting the food.  A medication called Anipryl has also been beneficial in cases of Cognitive Dysfunction.  There are also some nutritional supplements that can support brain health.

 

Environmental enrichment is very important in helping to keep your dog’s brain healthier.  So get out there and play with your pet daily, take him on regular walks, introduce new toys and even provide new training.  “Use it or lose it” applies to our furry friends, too!

Tapeworms

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My cat has small white worms in his poop.  They look like wiggling grains of rice.  I tried some wormer medicine from the pet store, but the worms just came back.  Thanks for your help!

There are two types of intestinal worms found in a pet’s feces that can be readily seen with the naked eye.  The first is the roundworm, which is long, round and skinny like a spaghetti noodle.  What you are describing is typical of the tapeworm, most commonly the Dipylidium caninum species of tapeworm.

Tapeworms are actually long worms, as well –  growing up to 8 inches in length.  They live in the small intestine of dogs and cats and attach to the wall of the intestine with hook-like mouthparts.  Once the tapeworm has anchored itself, a long tail begins to grow.  The tail is made of small, individual segments that each contains a complete digestive and reproductive system.

As the tapeworm grows, the older tail segments get pushed farther away from the head and lose their digestive system, but retain their reproductive tract.  Eventually the end segment breaks off of the tail and is passed out through the pet’s rectum.   At this point, the segment is nothing more than a sack of tapeworm eggs.

These segments are small, like the grain of rice you describe.  There can also be multiple connected segments that are passed at one time, which can sometimes be mistaken for the roundworm.  But if you look closely, you should notice that the worm is flat and segmented, unlike the round, smooth roundworm.   When they dry, the tapeworm segments bear a resemblance to sesame seeds.

The passed tapeworm segments are typically found around a pet’s rear end or in their stool.  They may also be seen in the bedding or other places your cat frequently rests, since the worms can pass while your pet is asleep.

If your cat (or dog) happens to swallow these tapeworm segments, he will not become further infested with tapeworms.  Dipylidium caninum requires a flea to complete its life cycle.  In other words, a flea larva found on your pet or in his bedding must eat the egg inside of the passed tapeworm segment.  As the flea develops into an adult, the tapeworm is also growing inside of the flea.  A pet must then in turn ingest that flea to become infected with tapeworms.  Inadvertent swallowing of fleas when a cat or dog is licking and chewing its skin in response to a flea bite is not uncommon.

Although the tapeworm lifecycle may seem complicated, a simple conclusion can be made about your cat with tapeworms:  even if you do not see fleas on him, your cat must be grooming off and ingesting fleas in order to become infested with the Dipylidium caninum tapeworm.

Therefore, treatment of tapeworms is two-fold.  The first step is treatment of the tapeworms themselves.  There are several very effective medications that can be given to kill the tapeworms.  But without strict flea control, your pet is at high risk to develop additional tapeworm infestations.  In as little as three weeks after treatment, new tapeworm segments can appear if your cat keeps swallowing fleas.

So the second, crucial part of tapeworm treatment is flea control.Excellent, veterinary-recommended flea preventatives that are administered to your pet once every month (or every 3 months for some products) are available.  Successful flea control includes treating your ALL your pets year-round.  Even one untreated pet will serve as a constant food source and allow new fleas to develop.

There are several other species of tapeworms that can be found in cats that eat infected rabbits, rats, mice or other rodents.  Tapeworm medications are also effective against these different types of tapeworms.  However, if you cat continues to ingest these prey, reinfection can occur.  These types of tapeworms are less commonly seen than the flea-associated worms.

If your cat is not an avid hunter and you are having a problem with recurrent tapeworms, it is time to take a hard look at your flea prevention effectiveness.  Ask your veterinarian for help in selecting the best protocol to eliminate your cat’s tapeworm and flea infestations.  Remember that flea control is the mainstay of successful tapeworm treatment.

 

 

Hurricane Preparedness

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The 2017 hurricane season has officially started.  Forecasters are predicting an above average number of named storms this year.  If a hurricane does threaten Southeast Texas, it is important for your entire family, including your furry members, to be prepared.

If your family must evacuate, you need to take your pets with you.  Never leave your pets behind thinking they will be okay because you are only going to be gone for a day or two.  Damage to an area can prevent access for days or even weeks, leaving your pets without food, water or care.  Pets may be trapped, escape or become injured during a storm.  If it is not safe for you and your family, it is not safe for your pets.

Do not count on local veterinary clinics or boarding facilities to house your pets during a hurricane.  If an evacuation order is issued, it applies to everybody, including the staff that typically looks after your pets during more routine boarding.  Flooding, wind damage, or loss of power threatens these facilities, too; not just your homes are at risk.

Arrange accommodations for your pets in the region to where you are evacuating.  If staying with friends or family members, ensure they are willing to house your pets, too.  Locate kennel facilities and make reservations as early as possible.  Many hotels now accept pets.  Websites such as www.bringfido.com and www.petswelcome.com can help you locate pet-friendly lodging.

Make sure your pets are up to date on all of their vaccines and keep a copy of the vaccination records, including rabies certificate and tag information.  To be even more thorough, ask your veterinarian to print out a copy of your pet’s medical records.  Some veterinary clinics also offer online access to medical records.  Our clients at Delaware Animal Clinic have the option to view medical records through our website as well as our mobile app.  These records are of particular importance for pets with any kind of medical problems or special needs.  If your pet is on any medication, be sure to have an adequate supply on hand to last two weeks.

All pets need to have some form of identification in the event they are separated from you.  The best identification is a microchip which is inserted under the skin.  Collars and tags can be lost, but a microchip provides reliable, permanent identification.  Make sure the information you provide to the microchip company is kept current.

You should also create an identification file for each pet.  This file should contain a detailed description of your pet that also includes any distinctive characteristics; for example, male, neutered, brown and tan Yorkshire terrier, 8 pounds, with white spot on chest.  A current photograph of your pet should be included.  Proof of ownership, such as adoption papers, proof of purchase or registration papers, can also be helpful.

Make a pet evacuation kit that is easy to carry and clearly labeled for every pet.  Provisions to place in this kit include:  two week supply of fresh water and food, can opener and spoon, pet bowls, leashes and collars, a carrier for every pet (labeled with your contact information), litter/litter pan/litter scoop, familiar comfort items such as blankets, toys and treats, trash bags and paper towels.

The evacuation kit should also contain your pet’s medical records, identification file, and medications, including heartworm and flea preventatives.  Other items may need to be considered, such as a flashlight, first aid kit, muzzles, radio, extra batteries and emergency contact information.

If an evacuation order is issued, leave as early as possible.  Evacuation routes will be less congested and you will have a better chance to find space available in a boarding facility or pet-friendly hotel.  Be sure that every pet has secure identification and don’t forget to pack your pet evacuation kit when you leave.  By leaving early you lessen your chances of becoming a victim of a disaster.  And remember it is NEVER okay to leave your pets behind.

Petting Induced Aggression

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My cat Gus is normally very friendly and loves attention.  Sometimes when I pet him, though, he turns around and bites me.  Any advice?    -Annie, Beaumont

Gus is exhibiting behavior known as petting-induced aggression.  The signals your cat gives can be quite confusing.  One minute Gus may be rubbing against your leg, jumping on your lap or even head butting your hand in what seems like a plea for affection.  Then the next minute he is biting you and running away.

Some cats want to be in your company but do not want to be petted.  Just because a cat sits in your lap or on the sofa next to you does not mean he wants your affection.  This situation represents a failure in communication between the cat and owner.  So the first thing to ask yourself is if Gus really wants to be petted at all.

If Gus truly seems to enjoy getting petted, but these sessions occasionally end in biting, then Gus is trying to tell you he no longer wants to be stroked.  Every cat has a different threshold of tolerance for human petting and physical affection.  Initially the interaction is pleasing to Gus, but there reaches a point where the sensations are no longer enjoyable.

There may be an underlying medication condition that is triggering Gus’ behavior.  Possible causes may include pain due to arthritis or discomfort from skin diseases.  In feline hyperesthesia syndrome, cats are overly sensitive to all touch which may result in episodes of skin rolling or twitching.  Any condition that increases irritability can also increase aggression, such as dental disease, anxiety or metabolic diseases.   A visit to your veterinarian to assess for such problems may be in order, especially if Gus’ biting behavior is new.

Your response to your cat’s aggression can exacerbate the problem.  When Gus bites you and you stop petting him, he learns that his aggressive behavior allows him to get what he wants.  This “reward” can result in more frequent or intense episodes.    So you need to take steps to handle this situation before it progresses further.

Cats usually signal when they are reaching the end of their petting tolerance, but these signs may be subtle and easily missed.  Postural changes for which to monitor include fidgeting, tail twitching, body tensing, dilated pupils or leaning away.  Your cat may also flatten his ears, pull his lips back, or possibly hiss or growl.  It is very important to pay attention to your cat’s cues that indicate his petting threshold is being reached.

Identify a special treat or favorite toy to use as a reward for your cat.  Only attempt retraining sessions when Gus is truly in the mood for affection.   Pet him for a short period of time.  Stop well before he shows any indication of nervousness or aggression.  Offer Gus his special reward for tolerating the petting session.  With each success, you can gradually increase the duration of the petting prior to giving the anticipated reward.

If your cat shows any beginning signs of agitation or aggression (tail twitch, ears back, etc.), immediately stop all interaction.  Leave the area and do not give any reward.  You may need to stand up slowly and allow your cat to jump off your lap on his own.  At your next session, decrease to a lower amount of stroking.

When cats groom each other, they typically focus on the other cat’s head and neck regions, not down the back.  So you can take cues from our feline friends and try light scratching around the neck and chin instead of full body petting.

Cat bites can be dangerous and lead to serious infections.  Don’t risk your safety trying to “retrain” Gus if he is not a willing participant.  In some circumstances it is best to accept and enjoy your cat’s company next to you or even on your lap, but with no other physical contact.  The key to a peaceful relationship is being aware of what Gus is trying to communicate to you.

 

 

Marking Territory

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My son has a very intelligent four year-old Pomeranian who is marking his territory.  My daughter-in-law says Nugget has to go.  Please advise!

Marking is normal behavior in dogs.  Despite the naturalness of this behavior, it is one of the more distasteful canine habits, especially if the marking occurs inside on household items.

Dogs urinate, typically on upright objects, to leave a scent mark which is a form of communication to other dogs.  Both male and female dogs may mark, but this behavior is most common in non-neutered males.

Dogs may be communicating a variety of messages with their marking behavior.  Nugget may be saying, “Hey, this territory is mine and I am ready to protect my beloved family no matter what!”  He may also be commenting on his sexual status and reproductive success.  Marking can also be used to aid in social interactions, especially if there is instability in the household social structure.

If this habit is new, it is important to first determine if there is an underlying medical problem that may be triggering inappropriate elimination.  Diseases of the urinary system, such as a urinary tract infection, kidney failure, or bladder stones can cause an increase in the frequency of urination.  Other diseases that cause an increase in water intake, such as diabetes mellitus and Cushing’s disease, may also result in frequent urination.

If medical issues have been ruled out, the next consideration is if the dog is neutered or not.  Neutering an intact male dog may reduce urine marking in up to 80% of dogs, and completely eliminate it in up to 40%.  The longer a male dog is left intact, the more the marking behavior becomes ingrained, and the less likely that neutering will result in total elimination of marking.  But it is a very important step in removing the hormonal influence on marking behavior.

Another question you need to ask is if your dog has ever been fully housetrained.  If Nugget has never been consistently reliable in the house, it is time to go back to square one with housetraining.  Select a site outdoors that you want to be used for elimination purposes.  It is important to focus on where you want your dog TO go, as opposed where he is not supposed to go.

When you take your dog to the chosen potty area, give him a short, encouraging command such as “Go potty” or “Get busy”.  As soon as elimination occurs, lavish him with praise and attention.  A small treat may also be given.  The timing of the reward is important – be sure it is immediately after elimination.

When Nugget is indoors, he must be strictly supervised so you can see when he has to go potty and then take him outside to the designated elimination area.  One of the best ways to keep your dog supervised is to tether train – attach a leash to your belt and to Nugget.  Then he will not be able to sneak away and urinate.

When not able to supervise your dog, a confinement area such as a crate should be used.  However, if soiling occurs in the crate, you need to find another way to confine your dog until housetraining is complete.  A dog that consistently eliminates in his crate loses his natural cleanliness instincts and may be more likely to develop separation anxiety.

Isolated marking episodes are often in response to a change in the house such as a visiting pet or new piece of furniture.  Consistent marking in the house may be in response to stress or anxiety.  Specific treatment depends on the underlying cause of the anxiety.

Supervise your dog if a new object is introduced, on a leash if necessary, as he explores.  If Nugget starts heading to an area in the home where he routinely marks, interrupt him with a verbal command or leash; then give him playtime or a training session to distract and reward him.

Finally, it is important to remove all evidence of previously marked sites, or Nugget will be drawn to continue marking these areas.  Complete removal means not just what you can see, but what your dog can smell.  A fresh accident can be deodorized with clear vinegar (undiluted or 50:50 water solution).  The room may stink until the vinegar dries, but the vinegar smell discourages future marking.  Older accidents require the use of a bacterial enzyme odor eliminator, such as Anti-Icky Poo, Simple Solution or Nature’s Miracle.

Ear Infections

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Smelly ears, head shaking or rubbing, and ear scratching can all be signs seen with otitis externa, or infection of the outer part of the ear canal.  Pets can also seem depressed or have a decreased appetite, just like many kids with ear ailments.

 

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However, some pets do not show any signs of an ear infection.  Especially if you own a breed like the happy-go-lucky, nothing-bothers-me Labrador retriever, for instance.  Many owners have been surprised to go to their veterinarian for a routine check-up, only to be told that their pet has an ear infection.  So it is important to routinely flip the ears over for a quick peek and good sniff to detect problems early.

 

Ear infections can affect any breed, but some have more problems than others.  Breeds with large, floppy ears, such as Cocker spaniels, or hairy ears like miniature poodles, are at increased risk.  Pets with repeated ear infections often have another underlying problem, such as allergies or low thyroid hormone levels (hypothyroidism).  If such a predisposing disease is suspected, it must be addressed or your pet will continue to suffer from chronic ear infections.

 

Dogs that swim can also have an increased risk for ear infections.  The warmth and moisture found in the ear with swimming is an ideal environment for yeast or bacteria to grow.  Drying the ears or using specific types of ear solutions to flush out the ears after swimming can help reduce ear infections.

 

I have heard numerous people tell me that their dog has ear mites.  In truth, ear mites account for less than 10% of ear infections in dogs, and are typically seen in puppies.  Dogs much more commonly get yeast or bacterial ear infections.  Cats, on the other hand, are a different story.  Ear mites account for 50% of infections in cats.

 

Knowing what type of ear infection is present is vital to receiving the correct therapy.  A medication that treats mites will be useless in a pet with a yeast infection, for instance.  In fact, some medications can result in loss of hearing if administered to a pet with a ruptured ear drum.  Therefore, a thorough evaluation by a veterinarian, including microscopic examination of material obtained from a swab of you pet’s ear canal, is needed for accurate diagnosis and treatment.

 

If you suspect something is wrong with your pet’s ears, it is extremely important to consult your veterinarian as early as possible.  The sooner the diagnosis can be made and treatment started, then better the prognosis.  The longer ear infections go untreated, the more damage can be done to the ears.  Over time, some damage becomes irreversible and may require surgery or lead to deafness.

 

So remember to look at – and smell – your pet’s ears on a regular basis to detect ear issues early.  And if your pet shows any symptoms of ear problems, schedule an appointment right away with your veterinarian.

Tracheal Collapse

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Bugsy, our 10 year-old Chihuahua , has been coughing for the past few months whenever he gets really excited.  He was diagnosed with a collapsing trachea.  What does this mean and what are my options? “

The trachea, commonly known as the windpipe, is the tube that connects the nose, mouth and throat to the lungs.  This tube is supported by a series of small “C-shaped” rings made of cartilage.  These cartilage rings wrap about 5/6th of the way around the circumference of the trachea, providing structural support to keep the tracheal tube open.  A thin layer of muscle, known as the tracheal membrane, completes the circle around the trachea.

If the cartilage rings become weakened, the trachea loses this rigid support.  Without support, the “C” loses its shape and starts to flatten out.  As a result of the loss of “C” curvature, the tracheal membrane becomes loose and saggy.  This process is known as tracheal collapse.

The areas of collapsed trachea can be located in the neck or in the chest.  If the tracheal collapse is within the chest, whenever the pet breathes out the tracheal membrane droops down inside of the “C” and causes an obstruction.  Just the opposite occurs if the collapse is in the neck portion of the trachea.  The saggy membrane results in obstruction when a pet breathes in.  With each type of tracheal collapse, the floppy membrane also can tickle the inner lining of the trachea, triggering a cough.

The cough is classically described as a “goose honk”, and is commonly dry and harsh.  It may be triggered by exercise and excitement, worsen with pressure on the windpipe such as when a leash is used, or increase at night, after eating or drinking.  Hot, humid weather also exacerbates the coughing.  Pets that are overweight have increased pressure bearing down on the already weakened trachea, making the problem worse.  Air pollutants, such as cigarette smoke and dust, can also contribute to clinical signs.

During times of increased breathing rate, such as excitement or exercise, the air is moving in and out quickly and with more force.  As a result, the trachea is more likely to collapse down to a greater degree.  So, with mild tracheal collapse, it is common for the coughing episodes to occur during only excitement, such as what Bugsy is experiencing.   In more advanced cases, coughing can become constant, even at rest.  If breathing is interrupted due to cough or obstruction, the pet can become very distressed, turn blue and collapse – an emergency situation requiring immediate veterinary care.

Toy breed dogs are the most commonly affected with tracheal collapse.  Chihuahuas, Yorkshire terriers, Shih tzus, Pomeranians and toy Poodles have the highest risk, although any size dog can have this disease.  Signs typically start in the middle-age to senior years, but can be seen in younger dogs.

Tracheal collapse can be treated medically and surgically, but most often medical treatment is pursued in the initial stages.  Cough suppressants are used to break the vicious cycle of coughing triggering tracheal inflammation triggering more coughing.  Corticosteroids can be useful to decrease inflammation in the airways and decrease mucous secretions.  Antibiotics may be needed occasionally to treat any secondary infections.  Medications that dilate open the airways are also helpful in certain pets.

Removal of any exacerbating factors is a crucial part of successful management of this disease.  Overweight pets need to be placed on a formal weight reduction program.  Filters can be used to improve the quality of the air in the pet’s environment.  People that smoke should not do so around their dog.

Medical management is generally successful in up to 70% of patients, but surgery is an option for nonresponsive cases.  The surgery involves placing prosthetic s in or around the trachea to hold it open.  It is an advanced procedure with potential for serious complications and should be performed by a Veterinary Surgery specialist.

On a final note, there has been shown to be a possible association between tracheal collapse and liver disease.  It is thought that the oxygen deprivation that occurs due to the collapse may result in liver damage.  Therefore, periodic monitoring of liver tests is recommended in pets with tracheal collapse so that appropriate therapies can be started if indicated.