I woke up this morning in a bit of a panic. I had a full nights sleep without hearing Nick cough. I first jumped to all kinds of conclusions and then jumped out of bed, followed by a few, early-morning, energetic canines in residence, and went in search of Nick. The household was still asleep at 6:30am and completely quiet. However, I was on a mission and I started yelling for Nick.
“Mommy, he’s right here,” my six year old yelled—and not in a happy way. Sure enough, Nick was soundly sleeping in my daughter’s Polly Pocket House. Natalie continued with, “he coughed a lot last night.”
I’m sure his coughing is not his heart at all. It’s a collapsing trachea and it’s not a very easy situation to handle in any dog, let alone an overweight, older, little dog.
There are two ways to treat a collapsing trachea. Surgical and medical. The surgical approach is invasive – non-collapsing synthetic rings are installed around the trachea – which means I’d have to cut all around inside Nick’s neck. This really would not be my preference, nor was it the owner’s.
My other alternative is medical – since we have tried most of the conventional treatments – the cough suppressant, the anti-inflammatory, the heart meds and the bronchodilator – I spoke with Nick’s owners about trying an integrated approach. I explained in detail what I thought would be the best treatment approach, and I was pleasantly surprised when they agreed to try acupuncture.
First acupuncture treatment went well and he settled in quietly during the session. I used 15 needles; at the very first needle, he began licking his lips, which is a sign of relief or at the very least, less stress.
I sent Nick home with very strong instructions about his weight-loss plan and provided them with a few cans of Mulligan Stew — and a teaspoon. He is to come back for three more weekly treatments.
I also started Nick on Su Zi Jiang Qi (JingTang Herbal) – an herbal treatment designed specifically for tracheal collapse and to treat the underlying reasons for the condition.
We’ll see our buddy back next week.
Dr. Cathy Alinovi DVM
As a practicing veterinarian, Dr. Cathy treated 80% of what walked in the door — not with expensive prescriptions — but with adequate nutrition. Now retired from private practice, her commitment to pets hasn’t waned and she looks forward to impacting many more pet parents through her books, research, speaking and consulting work. Learn more at drcathyvet.com
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