Tracheitis In Dogs: We Explore The Symptoms, Causes, And Treatments.

October 28, 2022
Medically reviewed by Nicole Wanner, DVM

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Dog owners are often perplexed by the unusual sounds their pet makes. You may notice strange honking sounds, gagging or coughing that doesn't seem to be related to an upper respiratory infection. These can be signs of tracheitis, an inflammation of the trachea that is common in many small dogs and can be a result of prolonged barking in larger dogs.

Here are a few facts about tracheitis dog owners should know to help you decide when a trip to the veterinarian is warranted.

Other respiratory pathogens can cause inflammation of the trachea in dogs and may require treatment after exposure.


The trachea, or windpipe, is the tube that connects the throat to the lungs. This tube is composed of small rings of cartilage. The tissue can become irritated and inflamed by constant barking, such as when dogs develop separation anxiety and bark continuously when their owners are away from home.

Tracheitis can also develop when dogs are in a boarding facility and bark continuously when they are bored or anxious. Generally, no other signs of infections are present, such as fever, runny nose, or chest congestion. The symptoms may subside on their own, or your pet may require simple treatment by the vet.


Some bacterial infections can result in coughing, honking, and other respiratory symptoms. Bordatella bronchisepitca, often called kennel cough, is an infection that can spread from dog to dog in boarding facilities or doggie daycare facilities.

A vaccine is available to prevent infection from this pathogen. Most boarding and doggy daycare facilities require proof of vaccination for your dog. Keeping your pooch up to date on the kennel cough vaccine is crucial if they frequently spend time with other dogs. Most cases of kennel cough clear up on their own, but it can be dangerous in puppies and older dogs.

Other respiratory pathogens can cause inflammation of the trachea in dogs and may require treatment after exposure.



Tracheal collapse sounds like a scary term, but vets commonly use it to describe a condition of the trachea that is frequently found in small dog breeds, which causes frequent honking and gagging symptoms.

Symptoms may worsen when smoke, outdoor allergens, or hot, humid weather are present.

In some cases, the cartilage rings of the trachea may become weakened and lead to growing problems with breathing. The condition generally occurs in middle age or the senior years. Weight loss, use of a humidifier, and medications like cough suppressants and steroids can help to relieve symptoms.

Medications to assist breathing and reduce anxiety are successful in most animals. Some animals may require surgery to relieve the condition.


Some dogs seem to be prone to tracheal irritation. You can help your pet breathe more comfortably and cough less by managing their weight carefully, by using a chest harness instead of a neck collar, and by avoiding smoke and other irritants that can affect your pet's airways.

You can also limit exercise in hot, humid weather and try to prevent the animals from becoming over-excited. See your veterinarian if you are concerned about symptoms.

Tracheitis can be a symptom of benign overuse or a sign of something more serious. If your dog produces strange or unusual sounds regularly, make an appointment with your veterinarian to assess the animal's condition. The vet can often improve the problem with conservative treatment.

Learn more about home remedies for dog breathing problems.



Biscuit's Story

I was unprepared for what would happen to my dog, Biscuit. 

Ever since she was a puppy, she’d spend her days running and playing. I’d take her on walks, to the beach, and dog parks.

Unfortunately, at age 10, she started to limp after trips to the beach. It broke my heart to see her in pain doing what she loved the most. I started feeding her a raw food diet and added high-quality supplements to ensure her nutritional needs were met. Unfortunately, while she loved the food, the limping persisted.

I went to the vet, who looked over Biscuit and said she was likely limping due to joint inflammation. She gave us something to help. This worked well at first. Biscuit was moving around more freely, and was limping less. 

However, a few days later, It was to my absolute shock that she…

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