Is your Yorkshire Terrier coughing? Dogs don’t cough the way people do, so when you hear your dog making a coughing sound, that needs to alert you that there might be a problem on the horizon. If it’s a hacking sound, maybe there’s something stuck in your dog’s throat. If it’s a non-productive, honking type of cough and your dog is a Yorkshire Terrier, then it could be the early beginnings of collapsing trachea. Collapsing trachea can effect other breeds also, but it seems to be a health issue for Yorkies. Sometimes it is genetic and breeders should try very hard to breed this out of Yorkies. It can be caused by wearing collars or leads that are tight and then when the dog pulls on his leash, he chokes. The constant pulling and choking will eventually damage the windpipe. This applies to all breeds, also.
My Yorkie began a slight cough during the summer of 2007. At the time, we were having renovations done on our home and I thought his throat was dry from the plaster dust and sawdust in the air. The coughing didn’t occur daily so I didn’t worry about progression. I made every effort to keep the dust down by vacuuming and dusting daily.
In the Fall, he had a vet check and I mentioned the cough. Our vet said it was probably collapsing trachea. She prescribed Torbutrol as a cough suppressant and after his first dose he was so drugged that he couldn’t stand, eat or get to his water bowl. She had said that he’d probably have to be on this the rest of his life, taking 2 pills a day. After this reaction, I called the vet and it was decided that he couldn’t tolerate this drug. He only weighed 4 pounds 6 ounces. After that I tried herbal cough medicines. I also gave him vitamin E and vitamin C.
During the Winter of 2008, he had several vet visits and it was always the same–his heart checked out good and his lungs were good. His appetite was good, there didn’t seem to be anything to be concerned over. At no time was I ever told of warning signs of collapsing trachea that might take his life. His coughing went from that dry, hacking sound to a sound much like a person makes when trying to clear one’s throat. Many days he wouldn’t cough at all, but many nights he would start to cough and couldn’t seem to stop. I tried giving him honey to coat his throat, because I’m sure his throat must have been very raw from all that coughing. There are herbal cough medicines on the market that contain honey. Sometimes they helped, but not always. Some days he would pace around all over the house, coughing–trying to breathe. As the trachea narrows it becomes like trying to breathe through a straw.
I searched the Internet for answers, looking for natural cures for him, but really there is not much that can be done. Sometimes surgery is suggested, but it is not always successful and can be very expensive. Not to mention the discomfort that your dog will go through.
Collapsing trachea claimed another victim, as my Yorkie passed away from suffocation, in his sleep on October 1, 2008. So, if your dog is making sounds like coughing, please discuss this with your vet so you will know what to expect. Gather as much information as you can and do everything possible to make your dog as comfortable as you can. You might try using a cool mist humidifier at night in the area where your dog sleeps. Keep his weight down, also. But, most of all, love him and pay as much attention to him as you can. I was very fortunate to have had my Yorkie for 14 years. We were together constantly and he is terribly missed. I sincerely hope that if you are dealing with this health problem with your Yorkie, that you will find something that will help him. Now, please, go hug your dog!