Occasionally, puppies are born with a trachea (windpipe) that is not as rigid as it should be. With tracheal hypoplasia, the normally strong cartilage rings that support and keep the trachea round and open are instead weak and underdeveloped, therefore, providing little rigidity.
Puppies of any breed may be affected, but tracheal hypoplasia is most common in brachycephalic breeds such as English Bulldogs.
What are the symptoms?
Affected puppies will generally be showing symptoms by two months of age. Breathing will be difficult; they will cough and wheeze, and have a low activity level.
What are the risks?
Puppies with tracheal hypoplasia will not only have a difficult time breathing, but are also likely to develop chronic respiratory infections. Mildly affected puppies will survive, but will live a life of restricted activity and will likely develop periodic infections of the airways.
What is the management?
Antibiotics are generally administered to treat bacterial infections, if present. Medications to dilate the airways (bronchodilators) may be beneficial in some dogs. Affected dogs should not be used in a breeding program.