This week she answers a recent question from one of her clients.
My 9-year-old shih tzu, always coughs when she pulls against the leash and collar or when she gets excited. Do I need to worry about this?
It sounds like your dog has a condition called tracheal collapse. The trachea is the tube that connects the throat to the lungs. It is composed of small rings of cartilage. In some small breed dogs such as the Chihuahua, Pomeranian, shih tzu, Lhasa apso, Yorkie, and poodle, the membrane loses some of its turgidity, and it will flatten during respiration, making it hard to deliver the air to the lungs. The most common clinical sign is a persistent, dry, hacking cough that occurs with exercise, when pressure is applied to the trachea, at night or after eating and/or drinking. There are other conditions such as congestive heart failure that can also cause coughing, so it is important to have a full physical examination and possibly additional diagnostics, such as X-rays, performed by your veterinarian to confirm a diagnosis and provide the best treatment options to keep your dog comfortable.