Ask Dr. Chris

Poor Molly Hurt Her Throat, Will She Be Ok?

Sue H from PA asks:

My dog, Mollie, is a 5 year old shih-poo.  Yesterday, she suddenly began acting like she was having trouble breathing and would cough when she tried to drink water.   I had left her tied out for a little while the day before and she may have tried to chase a cat.  Could she have hurt herself permanently?  Thank you!

Dear Sue,

It’s scary when dogs have trouble breathing and I can understand why you are concerned about Molly.  Breathing problems are one of the most common emergencies I see as an ER vet.  If she is truly having trouble breathing consistently, she needs to see a vet right away.  If these are brief episodes of abnormal breathing, there may be things you can do at home and she may be able to wait to see your vet for further treatment.

From the sound of it, Molly probably chased the cat and pulled at the end of her leash too hard, injuring her throat.  This often is a problem that will get better in its own.

Due to Molly’s size, there are few things we need to keep in mind.  Since she is a small breed dog, she is more likely to injure herself than a large breed dog by running to the end of her leash.  Her trachea and neck muscles are not as strong.  In addition, small breeds such as Miniature Poodles, Yorkshire Terriers, Maltese, Shih Tzus, etc are more prone to a condition called collapsing trachea.

Collapsing trachea is a defect where the cartilage in the trachea (wind pipe) is not strong enough or doesn’t circle the trachea far enough and the tissue collapses down, as if you were drinking a milk shake through a straw and the straw collapsed.  I don’t think Molly has this because she has not had trouble before and dogs with collapsing trachea often have a honking cough and more severe breathing issues.

Another possibility is that Molly could be experiencing reverse sneezing.  This is a peculiar abnormality of dogs that doesn’t really sound like a sneeze but no one has figured out a better name for it.  We think it is a way for a dog to clear their nasal passages.  It can occur for no reason or due to upper respiratory irritation or infection. Reverse sneezing is an inward breathing action and it sounds as if they are struggling to get air through their nose.

If Molly is having episodes of reverse sneezing  or the symptoms have improved significantly, you should be able to wait this out and this will probably resolve on its own.  Try softening her food with warm water for the next few days until she is back to normal.

If you feel that her symptoms are getting worse or not improving, she should be checked by your veterinarian as soon as possible.

We all hope Molly is feeling better soon!

Sincerely,

Dr. Chris
America’s Favorite Dog Vet

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Patty

    Apr 19, 2016 at 3:27 pm

    I have an English labradore 6 month old, over a month ago he jumped into the tub fountain in the backyard and when he backed out he caught his collar on the handle , his arms were over the edge of the tub and his feet were on the ground but he was in this position for over an hour. At first he was limping a bit but seemed to be fine but his limping is getting worse, now the vet thinks it might be neurological? What does that mean? Xrays were taken, nothing is broken , i am so sad , any ideas?

  2. 萬用行動電源

    Jun 21, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    Hiya, I am really glad I have found this information. Nowadays bloggers publish just about gossips and net and this really is truly frustrating. A good site with interesting content, this is what I need. Thanks for keeping this website, I will be visiting it. Do you do newsletters? Cant find it.

  3. Elaine Russo

    Dec 20, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    I have a 2yr old Shitzu when left alone for a short time will move her bowels in the house. I have started to confine her to a room and she goes. Also I take her out before we leave and she goes. Should I use her crate again. When we are home she doesn’t go.

  4. Jo-Ann

    Dec 20, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    You did not say that collar injuries like this can cause fascial restrictions which may cuase permanent problems unless addressed. My small dog got constant ear infections that the vet tried everything including herbs and acupunctre to treat. Nothing worked. She finally went for CranioSacral therapy and the therapist said there were restrictions caused by pulling on the collar. She released them and after the second visit, the ear infections stopped and have not returned. I then had her seen by a Fascial Integrative Therapist to work on the other restrictions that had formed by the collar. Both said she should be in a harness, not a collar to prevent ijury.

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