Most dogs with a collapsed trachea develop a persistent cough that may get worse at night or when the dog is excited, according to VCA Animal Hospitals. It is a dry cough that some people describe as sounding like a goose honk.
The cough often gets worse when the dog is picked up or when pressure is put on the neck, such as when the dog pulls against a collar, notes the American College of Veterinary Surgeons. Affected dogs may also have difficulty breathing and may faint or turn blue. Some dogs may have a noticeable wheezing noise when they breathe.
Tracheal collapse is particularly common in small dogs, explains VCA Animal Hospitals. Yorkshire terriers, Chihuahuas and Pomeranians are some of the breeds known to be prone to it. It usually occurs in somewhat older dogs, but younger dogs sometimes suffer from it.
Diagnosing a collapsed trachea may require an endoscopy, in which the veterinarian uses a fiber optic camera to see the inside of the trachea, or a fluoroscopy, which lets the veterinarian see how the trachea moves as the dog breathes, states the American College of Veterinary Surgeons. The condition is sometimes visible on chest X-rays, but those are often more useful for ruling out other possible causes.