Combatting Tracheal Collapse with the Right Harness

How can the right harness impact tracheal collapse in dogs?
Dog wearing harness

When our furry friends face health challenges, it often becomes a quest for us to find the right solutions to ease their discomfort. One such health issue is tracheal collapse in dogs, a condition where the trachea, or windpipe, flattens out, making it difficult for them to breathe. The honking cough that accompanies this condition is not just distressing to hear, but a tell-tale sign that your pup might be in distress. Early intervention, coupled with the right equipment such as a well-fitted harness, can significantly improve the quality of life for our four-legged companions facing this challenge.

Understanding Tracheal Collapse:

Tracheal collapse is a progressive disease characterized by the weakening of the tracheal rings, which are cartilaginous structures surrounding the windpipe. When these rings begin to weaken or collapse, it results in a flattened trachea, making it harder for dogs to breathe, especially during exercise or excitement.

Common symptoms include:

  • a dry honking cough
  • difficulty breathing
  • exercise intolerance
  • if severe: fainting or a blue tinge to the gums due to lack of oxygen

The causes of tracheal collapse are varied, but it often has a genetic predisposition. It can be congenital or acquired over time due to chronic respiratory disease, obesity, or heart enlargement. Certain breeds are more susceptible to this condition, particularly small, toy breeds. These breeds have a higher incidence of tracheal collapse:

  • Yorkshire Terriers
  • Pomeranians
  • Chihuahuas
  • Maltese

Becoming aware of this condition and understanding the preventive measures we can take, such as choosing the right harness instead of a collar, can play a pivotal role in managing tracheal collapse. It's all about making the journey smoother for our beloved pets, ensuring they continue to lead happy and active lives despite such health hurdles.

The Role of a Harness in Preventing Tracheal Collapse:

As pet parents, the choices we make regarding our furry companions' gear can have a direct impact on their health and comfort. This is particularly true for dogs prone to or already dealing with tracheal collapse. Traditional collars can exacerbate this condition by putting additional pressure on the trachea, especially if a dog pulls on the leash or is pulled suddenly. Each tug can cause irritation or further damage to the trachea, exacerbating the condition over time.

Transitioning to a harness is a wise choice to mitigate this risk. Unlike collars, harnesses distribute the pressure more evenly across the chest and shoulders, reducing the strain on the neck and trachea. This change can significantly alleviate the symptoms of tracheal collapse, making walks much more enjoyable for both you and your furry friend.

However, not just any harness will do the trick. It's crucial to select a harness that has been designed with dogs in mind. An ideal harness will have adjustable straps to ensure a snug, yet comfortable fit, catering to your dog's unique body shape while providing ample support.

A proper fit is paramount. A harness that is too tight may restrict movement and cause discomfort, while a too loose harness can fail to provide the necessary support and may even pose a danger if your dog can wriggle free. It's advisable to measure your dog accurately before purchasing a harness, and if possible, opt for a fitting session at a reputable pet store.

Choosing the right harness is an investment in your dog's comfort and longevity. By making a simple switch from a collar to a suitable harness, you're taking a significant step in managing tracheal collapse, thus granting your dog a better quality of life. So next time you gear up for a walk, choose a harness that hugs, not chokes, and watch your dog trot happily by your side, exploring the world with ease and enjoyment.

Choosing the Right Harness

With the right pointers, finding the right harness can lead to a comfortable and happy walking experience for both you and your furry companion. Here are some tips on what to look for in a harness for dogs with tracheal collapse:

  1. Avoid Neck Pressure:

    • Opt for a harness that positions away from the neck to prevent any additional pressure on the trachea. A harness with a low-front design can be a good choice.
  2. Comfortable Padding:

    • Look for a harness with ample padding, particularly in the chest area, to ensure your dog’s comfort. Soft, breathable material can prevent chafing and provide a gentle cushion.
  3. Adjustable Straps:

    • A harness with adjustable straps will allow for a customized fit, catering to your dog's unique body shape and size. Ensuring a snug, but not tight fit is crucial.
  4. Easy to Put On and Take Off:

    • A harness that is easy to put on and take off will make the gearing up process less stressful for both you and your dog. Look for harnesses with quick-release buckles or step-in designs.
  5. Reflective Material:

    • Reflective material on the harness can enhance visibility during low light conditions, adding an extra layer of safety during your walks.
  6. Sturdy Construction:

    • A well-constructed harness with durable material and strong stitching will last longer and provide consistent support over time.
  7. Size and Fit:

  8. Veterinarian Approval:

    • It's always a good idea to consult with your veterinarian for recommendations on the best type of harness to support your dog's condition.
  9. Customer Reviews and Testimonials:

    • Delve into reviews and testimonials from other pet parents who have faced the same issue. Their insights can be valuable in making an informed decision.
  10. Brand Reputation:

    • Opt for brands known for their quality and commitment to pet health. A reputable brand is more likely to provide a product that lives up to its promises.

Armed with these tips, you're well on your way to making an informed decision that will help ease your dog’s journey through tracheal collapse. A right harness can truly make a world of difference, turning walks from a struggle into a joyous exploration once again.


Navigating through the maze of pet products to find the right solution for managing tracheal collapse can be a daunting task. However, as outlined in this blog post, investing in the correct harness can significantly alleviate the discomfort associated with tracheal collapse, paving the way for many more joyous walks and hearty tail wags. The key lies in choosing a harness that alleviates pressure on the trachea, ensuring a snug yet comfortable fit, and providing your beloved pup with the comfort they deserve.

Now, more than ever, sharing such valuable insights is vital in fostering a well-informed and supportive community of pet parents. If you’ve found this information helpful, we encourage you to share this post with other dog owners facing the same issue. It’s through collective learning and sharing that we can better the lives of our furry companions, ensuring they trot happily beside us for many years to come. Remember, a small change like switching to the right harness can have a big impact on your dog's comfort and health. So, let's spread the word and make each pant, a happy and easy one for our four-legged friends!


Histochemical study of normal and collapsed tracheas in dogs

Dallman MJ, McClure RC, Brown EM. Histochemical study of normal and collapsed tracheas in dogs. Am J Vet Res. 1988 Dec;49(12):2117-25. PMID: 2467593.