By Angela Ardolino
Updated on July 5, 2021
Collapsing Trachea is one of the most common canine respiratory issues in this day and age. While collapsed trachea in dogs currently has no cure, you can support your pet by alleviating anxiety and relieving the symptoms caused by inflammation. Thankfully, CBD is an all natural treatment for collapsed trachea in dogs!
What is a Tracheal Collapse?
Tracheal collapse is a progressive, degenerative respiratory condition, often recognized by the honking, goose-like coughing it can cause in dogs. It most commonly affects small and toy breed dogs like Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, Yorkshire terriers and Mini-Schnauzers, though it can affect dogs of all shapes and sizes.
Collapsed trachea in dogs involves the slow breakdown of the trachea, which connects the nasal passageway to the lungs. The trachea, or “windpipe”, is the tube that connects the throat to the lungs. It is held open by rings of cartilage, like a vacuum cleaner hose, which help maintain its shape. This allows air to travel unobstructed from the mouth to lungs – and back.
These flexible rings of cartilage are only about 83 percent of the circumference of the trachea – the rest is made up of soft tissue. Rather than a complete circle, the trachea’s structural rings are U-shaped. A collapsed trachea happens when these rings of the trachea get progressively weaker and cannot maintain the open structure of the airway. The soft tissue begins to sag and eventually blocks the tube and the free flow of air with it.
Without these rings, it would be near impossible to take a breath or exhale. Imagine trying to suck a milkshake through a flattened straw. That’s your dog trying to get air through their collapsing trachea.
What Causes a Collapsed Trachea in Dogs?
In many cases the exact cause is unknown, though it can be genetic. This condition can also be exacerbated by a number of factors that pet parents may not be aware of, such as:
Wear and Tear
To help prevent collapsed trachea, you should always use a harness rather than a leash. Regardless of your dog’s size or breed, a harness will take pressure away from the dog’s neck – especially when the dog may run forward faster than you can keep up. You should also manage your pet’s weight. Obesity can worsen collapsed trachea. A raw or freeze-dried diet is the best diet for balanced gut health and weight. It’s also important to keep the dog’s environment free of irritants like smoke, excessive hair, and dust.
Much like other degenerative conditions, this disease is chronic, progressive, and irreversible. An episode can be very painful and may last for several minutes, so it’s best to catch this condition before it’s too late. If the trachea is collapsed for an extended period of time, oxygen levels may drop dangerously low and in extreme cases can be fatal.
What are the Symptoms of Collapsed Trachea in Dogs?
As with any progressive condition, it’s best to catch it early. There are several symptoms of collapsed trachea to watch for. If your dog is experiencing any of the symptoms listed below, make sure to discuss with your holistic veterinarian. Final diagnosis may require tests such as radiograph, echocardiogram, or fluoroscopy.
Loud, abnormal, wheezy, or labored breathing
Blue or purple gums
Difficulty exercising without breathing issues
Breathing changes when being picked up
You may also notice the symptoms worsen when:
Your dog is excited
After your dog eats or drinks
When overheated or in high humidity
When around smoke
When there is pressure on the neck or throat area
Conventional Treatments for Collapsed Trachea in Dogs
There is no single drug among the arsenal of western pharmaceutical medications that can successfully manage all the symptoms of tracheal collapse. Instead, traditional vets will offer several different drugs in an effort to combat all of the symptoms.
Along with their own side effects, these drugs also have the potential to interact with each other as well as any other medications your pet may be on.
These drugs include:
*Before choosing to wean your pet off of prescribed medications for tracheal collapse, discuss safe weaning with your holistic veterinarian.
CBD for Collapsed Trachea in Dogs
Looking for an alternative to the various combinations of different pharmaceutical medications currently being used to treat collapsed trachea in dogs?
A CBD-rich Full Spectrum Hemp extract has been proven to manage each of the previously mentioned symptoms, without the risk of side effects or dangerous interactions that pharmaceuticals bring:
CBD as an Anti-Inflammatory
This property is one of those for which cannabis is most well known. Compounds found in cannabis that reduce inflammation are abundant and diverse. The most abundant phytocannabinoids in cannabis, THC and CBD, both have strong anti-inflammatory properties, while CBC, CBG, and THCV have also demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties.
In an important study by the Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, University of South Carolina, School of Medicine, researchers found that the activation of cannabinoid receptors had a profound effect on inflammatory conditions for their test subjects. The study is quoted saying: “several studies show that cannabinoids down-regulate cytokine and chemokine production and, in some models, up-regulate T-regulatory cells as a mechanism to suppress inflammatory responses.”
By preventing and counteracting chronic inflammation, CBD has the potential to reduce irritation and pressure in the pulmonary system and prevent further degradation of the trachea and supporting cartilage.
Related: CBD for Inflammation in Pets
CBD as an Anti-Anxiety
Stress, anxiety, and fear can trigger and exacerbate that honking cough associated with a collapsed trachea. Thankfully, CBD is a wonderful, natural way to prevent fear and anxiety without causing outright sedation, as drugs like Trazodone would.
A 2013 article, published in Neuropharmacology, also found that: “In addition to modulating basal anxiety states, recent studies suggest an important role for the endocannabinoid and glucocorticoid systems is the modulation of emotional states and extinction of aversive memories in animals.”
In other words, this means that CBD can help in facilitating extinction of negative emotion surrounding triggers, and helps manage anxiety or panic disorders in people and animals. Perfect, for instance, for preventing the anxiety that comes with tracheal collapse episodes.
Related: How CBD helps with Separation, Noise and everyday Anxiety
CBD as a Bronchodilator
Not only does CBD help reduce inflammation and calm out pets anxiety, research also shows it has the ability to act as a bronchodilator, expanding these airways and letting more air in. During collapsed trachea episodes, the last thing you would want is for the bronchioles to be constricted as a result of an attack.
According to this study, from the University of Florence in Italy, “The activation of CB1 receptors on bronchial nerve endings has bronchodilator effects by acting on the airway smooth muscle and may be beneficial in airway hyperreactivity…”
CBD as an Antispasmodic
One of the secondary effects of an episode of collapsed trachea are muscle spasms, both locally and throughout our pets’ bodies. Coughing fits cause involuntary convulsions and muscle spasms as our dogs try desperately to get a breath of fresh air.
Conventional muscle relaxers and anti-spasmodics have dangerous interactions with other drugs, and are known to be highly sedative. In contrast, CBD from a full-spectrum hemp extract is extremely safe, with no negative effects to our pets quality of life.
During a 2012 study, researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, discovered that patients who consumed cannabis experienced a one-third decrease in spasticity, compared with participants given a placebo. Additionally, the cannabis also reduced the patients’ perception of pain by 50 percent.
CBD as an Analgesic
Finally, full spectrum hemp extract (CBD) is great for reducing pain. Cannabis has been used as an effective analgesic dating back thousands of years. One of the ways it does this is actually by changing the way the recipients’ central nervous system communicates the sensation of pain to their brains.
For example, when an injury occurs, like a dog hurting his paw on a sharp rock, the damaged tissue tells inflammatory and immune cells to begin repairing the damage. The cells release chemicals and proteins to activate receptors on nerves. Finally, these nerves move to the spinal cord and up to the brain causing our dog to feel the pain in his paw. CBD products can be utilized long-term to reduce pain effectively, by weakening these pain signals.
A study published in 2006, in Current Neuropharmacology, states that CBD has therapeutic benefits for both people and pets, suffering from chronic pain and acute chronic pain episodes.
Related: Full Spectrum CBD: Natural Pain Relief for Dogs
Dosing CBD for Collapsed Trachea in Dogs
Despite common misconceptions, dosing CBD has very little to do with your dog’s size and weight. Sensitivity can range greatly between dogs, and can even change over time, based on age or chronic illness. Therefore, dosage is most effectively determined with consideration for each animal’s unique physiological condition.
For collapsed trachea, we recommend our Ease tincture, a Full Spectrum extract with 550mg of CBD, and formulated with frankincense and turmeric to target inflammation. Based on experience, we recommend a dosage ranging from 9-18mg a day. Our Ease tincture is specially formulated so that one full dropper (1mL) is one standard dose (9mg of CBD). The best way to administer the tincture is applied directly to the gums, in two to three separate applications throughout the day for consistent use.
Pet parents are often highly concerned that they will give too much CBD and cause harm to their pets. However, more often than not when a pet is not having the desired reaction, it is because the pet isn’t getting the dosage they need for their ailment.
If you feel nervous about experimenting to find the upper limit of their sensitivity, rest assured, it is completely safe.
Related: CBD Dosage for Dogs
Here are a few of our incredible reviews related to collapsed trachea in dogs, submitted by some of our happy pet parents:
“I’m giving this CBD 5 stars because it’s the only thing proven to work for my 6.5 yr old Pomeranian. My baby Loki has a trachea collapse and has for the past 1.5 years. He’s FULL of energy, just during the change of seasons his trachea (cough) acts up. This CBD has done wonders since I started. He barely coughs at all!! I’m so excited to continue using this product as it’s helped my baby get back in his groove. Thank you!”- Madison B.
“I purchased Ease for my 14 year old pug who is suffering from a collapsed trachea and joint pain. This product has made a huge difference in her ability to deal with both of these issues. It calms her cough and allows her to move better. She even likes the flavor! Dosing with the eye dropper is very easy and convenient. Thank you!”- Janet H.
“Excellent product! We use the CBD EASE for Dogs on our 13yo Toy Poodle who suffers from a collapsing trachea. He seems to be more relaxed and doesn’t go into coughing/hacking fits as much as he used to. I definitely recommend this product! Thank you!”- Vernie D.
In the end, you know your pet best. Therefore, with the help of a good holistic or integrative vet, you can find the right combination of natural and western style medical treatments for your dog’s specific conditions.
In the case of collapsed trachea, there is so much we can do naturally to slow down the progression of this disease and prevent future episodes. For instance, CBD from a full-spectrum extract is great for our pets immune system, mobility and mental health. In addition, it has the potential to replace each of the five main types of medication used by conventional vets to treat this condition.
In conclusion, along with using a full-spectrum hemp extract, look into ways you the following ways you may be able to fortify your pets defenses against collapsed trachea:
If your dog is overweight, bring them in line with healthy standards
Use a harness, avoid collars which can further damage the trachea
Feed a fresh, species appropriate diet geared at reducing inflammation and allergies
Use HEPA air filters that keep the air in your home free of allergens
Avoid products in the home that contain artificial fragrances