Silky Terriers, also known as Australian Silky Terriers, are relatively healthy dogs. Despite this fact, though, they are susceptible to a handful of genetic diseases, including something called tracheal collapse. Actually, most toy breeds suffer from tracheal collapse, much more than larger dogs do, though it is not unheard of to see tracheal collapse in larger breeds. This condition can be quite serious and must be treated by a qualified veterinarian. In some cases, a change in lifestyle and a regimen of medications may suffice to correct the condition, while in other, more serious cases, surgery may be necessary.
The trachea is the windpipe, responsible for bringing air from the outside world into your lungs and expelling air from your lungs into the outside world. The trachea must be open at all times, as air must have constant unobstructed passage to and from the lungs; what keeps the trachea open are hard, incomplete rings (they have a "C" shape) of cartilage. In many toy breeds, this cartilage becomes weak and does not do a good job of keeping the trachea open. The cause of this weakening is unknown and it is thought that many combined factors could be involved; one hypothesis is that the chemical makeup of the cartilage used to keep the windpipe open is abnormal. When the cartilage is weak, the windpipe is compressed from top to bottom and air cannot flow freely.
This condition causes spasmodic coughing and airway obstruction in dogs. Signs often appear around six years of age. Dogs that are developing tracheal collapse will often present with a dry cough that many experts describe as sounding like the honking of a goose; they may also show problems breathing, gagging, the inability to exercise and their gums may also be blue in color (cyanosis). When the trachea collapses, coughing will lead to irritation and inflammation, making the passage of air difficult; mucus and other secretions will be released, and these secretions further contribute to blocking the passage of air.
To treat the condition, veterinarians will first try to administer steroids, airway dilators, cough suppressants and antibiotics. It is known that obesity aggravates the situation and so getting the dog to lose weight often clears up the problem. If none of these treatment options restores normal breathing, then the veterinarian may consider tracheal reconstruction surgery; the outcome is much more positive for dogs six years of age and younger. Besides obesity, there are other conditions that could lead to tracheal collapse, or at least to the visibility of tracheal collapse symptoms, such as chronic bronchitis, elongated palate, congestive heart failure, allergic bronchitis, pneumonia and irritants like dust and smoke. Often, treating these conditions may significantly improve the symptoms of tracheal collapse. There is no real long-term cure for tracheal collapse.