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Tracheal Collapse Alternative Treatment Option

Collapsing trachea is relatively common in middle-aged toy breed dogs such as Yorkshires, Pomeranians, and poodles. This progressive condition occurs when the supportive cartilage in the trachea starts to degenerate and soften, causing breathing difficulty. The classic ‘goose honk’ cough that is exacerbated by exercise, excitement, and stress can worsen without intervention.

Medical management is the mainstay treatment for trachea collapse, often with hydrocodone liquid. The owner and canine may not like this option due to the nature of drowsiness and personality changes exhibited in the animal. An alternative option that can be suggested is a compounded preparation first used by clinicians at Auburn University. The combination comprises phenobarbital 96mg, isoproterenol 5mg, ephedrine 4ml of 50mg/ml, theophylline 720mg, potassium iodide 2400mg, and 60ml syrup diluted to 240ml with water (Clarke, 2008). This compound has shown promise without having the same detrimental side effects as hydrocodone liquid. Expectations need to be set since treatment is palliative and not curative.

The main side effect that should be monitored is heart rate to ensure it does not raise higher than 160 beats per minute due to the presence of ephedrine in the compounded preparation. Reach out to your compounding pharmacist at Pharmacy Solutions to specialize in an alternative for your veterinary needs.

Dosing in Canines: 0.045-0.09ml/kg (0.1-0.2ml/lb) by mouth three times daily as needed.”

Reference: Clarke, D. L., Holt, D. E., & Macintire, D. (2008). Tracheal Collapse in Dogs. Standards of Care: Emergency and Critical Care Medicine. [Link] Accessed Nov 1, 2023.


Klein, S., Nolte, I., Rumstedt, K. et al. (2021). The effect of treatment with pimobendan in dogs with preclinical mitral valve disease – a placebo-controlled double-blinded crossover study. BMC Vet Res 17, 310.

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