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15 Best Harnesses for Dogs With Collapsed Trachea

A collapsed trachea in dogs can be a serious and potentially life-threatening condition that requires careful management and special consideration, especially when choosing the proper harness.

A harness that is too tight or puts pressure on the throat can worsen the condition and potentially cause further harm to the dog.

In this blog post, we will explore the best harnesses for dogs with a collapsed trachea.

What is a Collapsed Trachea in Dogs?

The trachea is a flexible tube that carries air to and from the lungs. In a healthy dog, the trachea is supported by strong c-shaped rings of cartilage that help keep it open and allow for easy breathing.

In a dog with a collapsed trachea, the cartilage rings become weak and floppy, causing the trachea to collapse or partially collapse.

The trachea is a flexible tube that carries air to and from the lungs, and a collapsing trachea can interfere with this process, leading to difficulty breathing and a distinctive coughing sound.

Weak cartilage leading to tracheal collapse can be caused by a number of things, including:

  • genetics
  • obesity
  • trauma
  • chronic coughing
  • congenital condition

Breeds at Risk

Small dog breeds, such as Chihuahuas, Yorkshire terriers, Pomeranians, Shih Tzu, and Toy Poodles, are more prone to developing a collapsed trachea.

In very small dogs or toy breeds, a collapsed trachea can be particularly severe and may lead to respiratory distress.

Risk Factors For a Dogs With Collapsed Tracheas

The following are some common risk factors in dogs with collapsed tracheas:

Respiratory Infection

Dogs with a collapsed trachea may be more susceptible to respiratory infections due to the nature of their condition.

A collapsed trachea can interfere with the dog’s ability to get enough air, which can weaken the respiratory system and make it more susceptible to infections. Chronic coughing and difficulty breathing can irritate the respiratory tract and increase the risk of infection.

At the same time, respiratory infections can also worsen a collapsed trachea.

The inflammation and increased mucus production that occur with a respiratory infection can further narrow the airways and make it more difficult for the dog to breathe. In severe cases, a respiratory infection can lead to respiratory distress, which can be life-threatening for a dog with a collapsed trachea.

Difficulty Breathing

One of the most obvious and immediate risks for a dog with a collapsed trachea is difficulty breathing. The trachea plays a crucial role in helping the dog inhale and exhale air, and if it is partially or completely collapsed, this process can be impaired.

This can lead to panting, coughing, and other respiratory symptoms. In severe cases, a collapsed trachea can cause a complete obstruction of the airway, which can be life-threatening.

Decreased Physical Activity

A collapsed trachea can also cause a decrease in physical activity, as the dog may be unable to engage in strenuous activity due to difficulty breathing. This can lead to muscle atrophy, weight gain, and other health issues.

Quality of Life

A collapsed trachea can significantly impact a dog’s quality of life. The coughing and difficulty breathing can be distressing for the dog and their owner, and the limitations on physical activity can be frustrating for both parties.

Risk of Further Collapse

Without proper management, a collapsed trachea can become more severe over time. This can increase the risk of further complications and potentially lead to a complete obstruction of the airway.

tracheal collapse in dogs

Causes of a Collapsed Trachea

There are several potential causes of a collapsed trachea in dogs, including:

Genetics

Certain breeds of dogs are more prone to developing a collapsed trachea due to inherited genetic factors. Smaller breeds, such as Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, and Toy Poodles, are most at risk.

Obesity

Obesity can increase the risk of a collapsed trachea in dogs. The added weight puts extra pressure on the neck and chest, which can weaken the cartilage supporting the trachea over time.

Trauma

Accidents or injuries that result in trauma to the neck or chest can cause a collapsed trachea. This can include car accidents, falls, or other types of impact.

Chronic Coughing

Repeated coughing or hacking can put strain on the trachea and weaken the cartilage over time. This can be caused by a variety of factors, such as respiratory infections, allergies, or exposure to irritants like cigarette smoke.

Treatment for Collapsed Trachea in Dogs

Treatment for a collapsed trachea in a dog typically involves medical management under the guidance of a veterinarian. The goal of treatment is to relieve symptoms and improve the dog’s quality of life. The specific treatment plan will depend on the severity of the condition and the individual needs of the dog.

Effective treatment for a collapsed trachea may include one or more of the following:

Medical Management

The treatment for a collapsed trachea in dogs typically involves medical management to help alleviate symptoms and prevent further collapse. This may include medications such as bronchodilators and corticosteroids to help open the airway and reduce inflammation.

Oxygen therapy may also be recommended in severe cases.

Weight Management

Obesity can exacerbate a collapsed trachea, so it is important to manage the dog’s weight and maintain a healthy body condition. This may involve changes to the diet and exercise routine.

Avoidance of Triggers

Certain triggers can worsen a collapsed trachea, so it is important to identify and avoid these as much as possible. This may include avoiding exposure to smoke, dust, and other irritants, and avoiding activities that put strain on the neck and throat, such as using a collar instead of a harness.

Surgery

In severe cases, surgery may be recommended to help stabilize the trachea and prevent further collapse. The specific type of surgery will depend on the severity of the condition and the overall health of the dog. It is important to discuss the potential risks and benefits of surgery with a veterinarian.

Signs of a Collapsed Trachea in Dogs

The following are some common signs of a collapsed trachea in dogs:

  • Dry cough or honking cough sound
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Respiratory distress
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Loss of appetite

If you notice any of these signs in your dog, seek veterinary care as soon as possible.

8 Harness Options for Very Small Dogs with Tracheal Collapse

Here are eight harness options that are well-suited for tiny dogs with tracheal collapse:

  1. PetSafe Easy Walk Dog Harness: This front-clip harness is designed to prevent pulling and reduce pressure on the neck. It is available in extra small and small sizes, making it a good option for very small dogs.
  1. KONG Comfort Dog Harness: This harness is made of soft, padded material and has a front-clip leash attachment to help distribute pulling force evenly across the chest. It is available in extra small and small sizes.
  1. TRUE LOVE Reflective Dog Harness: This harness is padded for comfort and made with durable oxford outer layer. Sizes range from XS to XL.
  2. Ruffwear Web Master Pro Harness: This harness is designed for working dogs and has a front-clip leash attachment as well as a handle on the back for added control. It is available in extra small and small sizes.
  3. Freedom No Pull Dog Harness: This no pull dog harness is adjustable and maintains comfortable control for easy walking. Sizes are available from XS to XL.
  4. Julius-K9 IDC Power Harness: This harness has a front-clip leash attachment and is designed for use in a variety of settings. It is available in extra small and small sizes. Sturdy construction with one-click fit.
  5. EzyDog Chest Plate Dog Harness: This harness has a front-clip leash attachment and is made of padded, breathable material. It is available in extra small and small sizes.
  6. BARKABAY No Pull Pet Harness with Reflective Material. Easy control for small to medium dogs.

It is important to choose a good harness that fits your dog properly and does not put any unnecessary pressure on the neck or throat.

A harness that is too tight or places pressure on the trachea can exacerbate the condition and potentially cause further harm to the dog. Consult with your veterinarian before using any new harness, as they can provide personalized recommendations based on your dog’s specific needs and condition.

Signs of tracheal collapse in dogs include honking cough

Top 7 Harnesses for Larger Dogs with Tracheal Collapse

Here are seven harness options that are well-suited for larger dogs with tracheal collapse:

  1. PetSafe Easy Walk Dog Harness: This front-clip harness is designed to prevent pulling and reduce pressure on the neck. It is available in a range of sizes, including medium, large, and extra large, making it a good option for larger dogs.
  2. KONG Comfort Dog Harness: This harness is made of soft, padded material and has a front-clip leash attachment to help distribute pulling force evenly across the chest. It is available in a range of sizes, including medium, large, and extra large.
  3. rabbitgoo Dog Harness: No pull with 2 leash clips, adjustable soft padded dog vest with reflective material.
  4. Ruffwear Web Master Pro Harness: This harness is designed for working dogs and has a front-clip leash attachment as well as a handle on the back for added control. It is available in a range of sizes, including medium, large, and extra large.
  5. Freedom No Pull Dog Harness: This front-clip harness is designed to reduce pulling and is available in a range of sizes, including medium, large, and extra large.
  6. Julius-K9 IDC Power Harness: This harness has a front-clip leash attachment and is designed for use in a variety of settings. It is available in a range of sizes, including medium, large, and extra large.
  7. EzyDog Chest Plate Dog Harness: This harness has a front-clip leash attachment and is made of padded, breathable material. It is available in a range of sizes, including medium, large, and extra large.

It is important to choose a harness that fits your larger dog properly and does not put any unnecessary pressure on the neck or throat. A harness that is too tight or places pressure on the trachea can exacerbate the condition and potentially cause further harm to the dog.

It is also advisable to consult with your veterinarian before using any new harness, as they can provide personalized recommendations based on your dog’s specific needs and condition.

Tips for Using a Harness with a Dog that Has a Collapsed Trachea

  1. Choose a harness that fits properly and does not put any unnecessary pressure on the neck or throat.
  2. Avoid pulling or jerking on the leash, as this can put extra pressure on the trachea and cause further damage.
  3. Use a lightweight harness to avoid adding extra weight and strain on the neck and chest.
  4. Avoid using a collar in conjunction with a harness, as the collar can put additional pressure on the trachea.
  5. Monitor your dog’s breathing and behavior while using the harness, and stop using it immediately if you notice any signs of distress or difficulty breathing.
  6. Consult with your veterinarian before using any new harness, as they can provide personalized recommendations based on your dog’s specific needs and condition.
  7. Regularly check the harness for signs of wear or damage, and replace it if necessary.

By following these tips and working closely with your veterinarian, you can help ensure that your dog is comfortable and safe while using a harness.

Leads and Harnesses to Avoid

Do not use a slip lead on a dog with tracheal collapse. A slip lead is a type of leash that consists of a loop of material that can be placed over the dog’s head and tightened around the neck when the dog pulls. This design can put extra pressure on the neck and throat, which can be harmful for a dog with a collapsed trachea.

Instead, use a harness with a front-clip leash attachment, as this helps to distribute the pulling force more evenly across the chest and reduces pressure on the neck and throat. It is also important to avoid pulling or jerking on the leash, as this can put extra strain on the trachea and exacerbate the condition.

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Summary

Choosing the right harness is important for dogs with tracheal collapse, as a harness that is too tight or puts pressure on the throat can exacerbate the condition and potentially cause further harm to the dog.

Front-clip harnesses, step-in harnesses, and custom-fit harnesses are all good options for dogs with tracheal collapse, as they do not put any pressure on the neck or throat.

It is also important to use a lightweight harness and avoid pulling or jerking on the leash. By following these tips and working closely with your veterinarian, you can help ensure that your dog is comfortable and safe while using a harness.

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