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Chihuahua with breathing problems
chilipepper54 posted:
I have a 9 year old neutered chihuahua who for the last two years has been showing signs of what I describe as "breathing problems". The symptoms started with the reverse sneeze, which I know is common.

Then two years ago, he started to show signs of more distress, in that he would stretch his neck and also pant, which he never did. The first vet did order a broncoscopy with no real results. Therefore he was diagnosed with "allergies". I was told they would go away when the ground froze. They didn't. We went along for another year or so and it kept getting a little worse. I told her that he was still having the "noisy breathing issues, in that it sounded like he was having trouble inhaling. The first vet said, she didn't know what else it could be.

Then Rui started coughing quite a bit more. So much that it turned in tnto the dreaded "honk". Having lost confidence in the first vet, I sought a second vet. After taking an x-ray, and finding redundant matter (I believe that is the term), the second vet diagnosed him with trachael collapse and put him on a treatment of temarilP. That helped the coughing, but he still had the noisy breathing. To me it seems like he has trouble on his inhale as the air almost sounds ratchity. It seems like there is a blockage or something obstructing his breathing somewhere in the back of his throat. Still, no real diagnosis of this breathing problem. Still no input on this from the vet.

Because the second vet is quite a distance away and not feeling terribly secure in her care, I sought a third a little closer to me. I had all of the records sent to him. He examined Rui and said he looked great. I showed him the xrays of the suspected tracheal collapse which he immediately dismissed. He said that the xray was probably some tissue, but not collapse. He diagnosed firmly that Rui has "chronic bronchitis"< scream> and to continue giving him the TemarilP. Again, my concerns on the noisy breathing fell on what I felt as deaf ears.

In my heart, and in doing research on my own, I know none of these vets have it quite right. In my honest opinion, I believe Rui is having problems with an elongated soft palate. All of the symptoms I have read about associated with that diagnosis, leads me to believe this.

My problems is that I live in northern New England. I feel that I need to consult with a vet who is familiar with the breed. I don't feel like I am hard to please, even though it might appear that way from having gone to three different vets. It is just that I don't feel confident in any of them even addressing the problems associated with elongated soft palate in this small breed.

Do any of the experts who might be familiar with this breed be able to give me some advise on what I should do next. I don't want to just call another local vet, as i feel it is a waste of time in my area?

Thank you for any help you can give.
Bernadine Cruz, DVM responded:
Dear Chilipepper....
How frustrating. You are definitely hard to please. You are just a concerned pet owner in need of answers and treatment.

Collapsing tracheas are common in small breeds of dogs. The collapse can occur in the neck or deeper in the chest. Radiographs need to be taken on full inspiration and expiration to catch where the collapse is taking place. The degree of collapse can vary greatly. It is not cureable with medication but the signs can be often ameliorated. Some pets need surgical intervention.

Bronchitis can also be present and can exacerbate a collapsing trachea. You can ask that the radiographs are reviewed by a board certified veterinary radiologist. The films can be sent in the mail and therefore no matter where you live, they can be reviewed by an expert.

An elongated soft palate would be a condition that the pet was born with. To suddenly start causing issues a few years ago is not typical. There could be a mass in the nasal passages, behind the soft palate, in the throat.... It may be necessary to have your pet transported to a referral practice with specialists such as those that are in New York, Animal Medical Center,

I know this would not be the easist or least expensive but the investment in your dog's health and your peace of mind may make it worth it.

I hope this helps...
Dr. Bernadine Cruz


Bernadine D. Cruz, DVM, is an associate veterinarian at Laguna Hills Animal Hospital, Laguna Hills, Calif. She specializes in companion animal medicin...More

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