Collar VS Harness – Tracheal Collapse

Collar VS HarnessChihuahuas have become a passion of mine and as I research this breed I want to make others more aware of conditions that could occur with their own pet. Some of these things I am learning as my own pets are getting older, but tracheal collapse is one of the thing I was unaware of until recently. I have recently learned that this is common in small breed dogs. One of the causes of tracheal collapse is the dog pulling on a leash while wearing a collar. This can become a life threatening problem for your pet. When trying to make the decision when it comes to collar vs harness for your chihuahua you may want to read this first before buying a collar or harness.

What is a Tracheal Collapse

Tracheal collapse is when the trachea (windpipe) rings fail to stay open while air is going to and from the lungs. The rings get weak or become narrow. Instead of Collar VS Harnessbeing round the trachea ring is more of a c shape. This can cause the air not to move through the windpipe to the lungs properly. This problem usually starts to occur around the age of seven or eight years of age. As your pets gets older you may want to watch for signs of tracheal collapse. Catching it early will allow you to find a treatment that could make your dog more comfortable and prolong his/her life. It can range in severity. Graded with numbers one through six; with six being the most severe. In chihuahuas this condition can occur when the dog pulls to hard on a leash while wearing a collar. These dogs have tiny necks and tracheae; which makes them more susceptible to this condition. Dogs do not realize the harm they are doing to themselves while trying to pull so hard on a leash.

What are the symptoms of Tracheal Collapse

Pulling against a collar is just one way a chihuahua can get a tracheal collapse. There are other issues that can cause this condition.

  • Birth defect
  • Second hand smoke
  • Heart disease
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Bacterial or viral infection
  • Obesity

These are the symptoms you will want to be aware of:

  • Honking cough
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Labored breathing
  • Bluish Gums
  • Unproductive effort to vomit
  • Loss of consciousness

Some treatments that may be prescribed by a vet:

  • Coritcosteroids for inflammation
  • Cough suppressants
  • Antibiotics; if caused by an infection
  • Weight loss; if obesity is a problem.

Collar VS harnessCollars

I would not recommend you use a to start leash training your chihuahua. Once, they are leashed trained a collar would probably be fine to use, but starting out a harness would be more suitable. All dogs seem to want to pull against a leash; no matter how big or small they are. This pulling can cause  any dog to have a tracheal collapse, but it is more common in small breeds. You may want to consider the cute and designer collars for your pet as an accessory; at least until they are properly trained. We all want our chihuahua to look cute in whatever they are wearing, but we do not want to put their health at risk.


A harness would definitely be a safer choose when leash training your dog. Collar VS HarnessWhen on a leash these little guys try to pull like they are as big as a German shepherd. You can find a couple different types of harnesses to help train your chihuahua how to walk on a leash without pulling. The two I found was  an easy walk harness or a no pull harness. The easy walk harness has adjustable straps that go over the shoulders and belly. The hook for the leash is on the dog’s chest. The no pull harness  has the adjustable straps that goes over the shoulders. It has padding on the straps and a small area of mesh that covers the dog’s chest. These also come in a vest with fewer straps; it covers more of the chest and soulder area. The leash attaches on the dog’s back. They make all of these to fit a smaller dog. They can be found at pet supply stores and Amazon.

Be Aware

Please be aware how serious this condition can be. In some cases it can be prevented. Teaching your dog how to walk on a leash properly with a harness could be one way to prevent tracheal collapse. Tracheal collapse can also be confused with reverse sneezing. The sounds that your pet with these two conditions may  sound similar. Chihuahuas are so lovable and they depend on us to do what is best for them. So, if you think your fur baby may have a tracheal collapse or if your not really sure what is causing the unusual noise he/she has started making; check with a local vet for testing and further diagnosing.




4 thoughts on “Collar VS Harness – Tracheal Collapse”

  1. Great article, most people don’t think about the problems that can can be caused by pulling on a collar. I always use a harness when I have my dog on leash, it just makes sense to me. Thank You for sharing your knowledge

  2. What great information! I have a 40lbs, Black Lab Corgi mix and he has a couple of these symptoms. You have given me much to think about. Does the honking coughing happen regularly or when they become exhausted?

    1. The coughing can occur more often when they are excited or have been exercising, You may want to get the cough checkedout. A cough can also be a sign of heart problems, this cough seems to happen more on a regular bases but it sounds different.

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