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Breathing Issue Advice


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Hi there, we adopted our beloved Jax in 2007 from this forum. He has been going pretty great but recent times he has this crackly breathing...sounds like he has bronchitis or a lot of mucus on his chest...now that he is old he is inside a lot so we hear it each night. Every day he does this hacking thing, almost throwing up.


Last week, after a very short walk he came back completely exhausted, extreme. He cuddled up to mum and on the couch (never cuddled anyone in his life) really nuzzling his head on her and was panting really heavy all night - trip to vet, xray, heart murmur tests etc etc and nothing could be found.


Tonight he is laying next me and he is super restless and occasionally sits up and pants, like stress/super out of breath.


He isnt over weight and his diet is mostly dried food. Got plenty of water but doesnt do a lot of exercise now.Any ideas?


I dont mind taking him back to the vet, but i want to go with some leads...Jax HATES the vet, he stresses and shakes and tries to bite...honestly its frightening to watch him that scared...so i need to only take him for emergencies.


Wife googled and came up with a collapsed/damaged trachea? Although he can still bark fine.


Any ideas?


Video of the breathing noise



Video of his belly while breathing (not sure if this is significant)




Knee reco. Its ok, but not perfect.

Fatty lumps - has a few of these and we had one removed from arm pit, they said defintely benign



Edited by JimmyTheHuman
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The vet is your only option.
For his X rays was he mildly sedated or obliging & able to be done with no GA ??
I can only go by our girl who had a Trachea issue that advanced very quickly ,she was fit as ,she was near 15 ate like a horse ,ran,played but started a mild cough ,cough progressed quickly then one night she had massive breathing issues & PTS the next day
He could have mild asthma if your in a smoke affected area .
He may have arthritis that is giving him pain is he on any pain relief ??

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My girl, whom we gave her wings, was having trouble breathing & everything was an effort, which was so out of character for her being an active border collie.  We thought it was her advanced kidney failure taking her out, until I brought it to the vet's attention that her abdomen was quite extended.  It took an ultrasound to determine that she had a tumour on her heart which was pressing on her trachea & her abdomen & lungs were filling with fluid.  I hope this is not the case with your guy. 

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I am definitely taking him back to the vet, but i wanted to offer some thoughts and ask more questions. Our vet is very obliging and caring, they would watch the vids.


No he isnt on any pain meds, but doesnt pay his knee much attention.


He remembers the vet clinic and he doesnt like the place at all. As soon as you pull up he is shaking...then when they try and stethoscope him he snaps and growls from fear, we muzzle him and he just shakes, like cartoon type whole of body trembling. They sedate him and then they xray and ultra sound and listen to him...he isnt wheezing during any of this.


It's not from smoke, he has had it since before the bushfires.


Sheena, that sounds quite similar, except sometimes he is ok, if something like that i would expect it all the time?


He seems to have less wheezing if sleeping with head elevated, or if he is standing. it seems to be when he laying down.


I dont want to wait until its a bigger issue, but i dont know what to ask/tell the vet?

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1 hour ago, JimmyTheHuman said:

but i dont know what to ask/tell the vet?

What you've posted here will be helpful. Write things down in point form , maybe .
Jax wheezes badly when :
Lying down 
Jax seems better when :
His head is elevated 
he's sitting up 
he's standing 
blah, blah .....

Include observations like 
Does he mouth breathe?
Does he sneeze?

Does he appear to have trouble swallowing food? 
Does his tongue go blue?
Does he appear anxious?
Does he 'self-correct' ? sit/stand to breathe easier? 
Do you walk him on a collar or harness? 
has his bark changed tone/loudness?

All this can help the vet  ....

Edited by persephone
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Honestly I've seen all those before and would have said heart/lungs/trachea but if they couldn't find anything I'm stuck! :( Try a full blood panel? Or a cardiologist ultrasound. It's got to be coming from somewhere. 


Hugs for little Jax. :heart: 


edit; awesome post Perse! 

Edited by Powerlegs
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I hope you and your vets can find and answer so you can treat and help Jax.  


I have an elderly Pom x Corgi who has dynamic airways disease which was diagnosed a couple of years ago.   But he (Bunter) doesn’t get exhausted in the way you describe Jax.  He has a dreadful cough and sometimes it is so damned harsh and strong that I wonder he doesn’t cough up his insides :cry: :cry:.  He lies around most of the time (he is 17), but when he went to the vet the other day he was as bright as a button and we went for a little walk down the street.  He does puff quite heavily, though, and a few weeks ago in the wee small hours he was breathing so heavily, I was contemplating taking him to emergency.     


We’ve been using a puffer on him for sometime now and have tried heaps of meds and combinations of meds, but we are now down to just ABs (injection every fortnight as he has become difficult to medicate), Codeine three times a day, Pred every second day and the puffer three times daily.   


Good luck.  I hope you can find Jax some relief.   

Edited by Loving my Oldies
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  • 1 month later...

Thanks for the advise and wishes.


I emailed the vet with videos and long explanation. 2 vets reviewed it, reviewed his xrays and called me back and spent 15min on the phone with me. On the same day I emailed them!


They went through each suggestion we made (many from this page) and explained why they didnt like them (eg xray proof or absence of key symptoms).


They think its this. Laryngeal Paralysis. They really like that the noise is an inhale not exhale noise...much less likely to be fluid or other internals and lends itself this. one of the vets has a keplie with the same issue.


So they have a process to diagnose this and we'll go in a week or so and confirm.


Thanks for the tips, hope this helps someone else.



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I have heard of a number of elderly dogs in my breed getting this. Most overseas.  It seems to range in severity from mild and easily managed to severe and life threatening. There is an operation some have used.

Of course your vet is the best source of advice, but from the experiences I have heard hot and humid weather make it worse, exercise is usually restricted as part of management, and most switch from a collar to a harness if they were using collars.  Good luck. Old dogs are glorious but they do develop unfortunate health challenges just like we do. 

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Thanks, we will switch the harness. The lady Vet said operational is possible, but it's invasive and has side effects...so only consider if the issue is really impacting him. It's certainly impacting him...but probably not enough to warrant a big surgery and long recovery etc.



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Sorry for the late reply.  Please don't leave this for a week - your dog can suddenly got into respiratory crisis which is a medical emergency - and a lot of vets don't have any experience with it.   It's more than likely it is laryngeal paralysis (or the syndrome GOLPP - geriatric onset laryngeal paralysis and poly neuropathy) as the restlessness and difficulty with breathing without exertion and the panting and resisting exercise could be a major clue.  You need a vet who is prepared to go further diagnostically.  Your dog needs a full blood panel to rule out an infection (probably not from what you describe) and as a baseline prior to surgery and then an endoscopy under GA.  And if you find it is Laryngeal Paralysis then be prepared to go straight to tie-back while your dog is still under GA (best as avoids two GAs).  


I found the thread where I went through an incredible journey with my Mac (RIP) - mistook GOLPP for doggie dementia when it was clear looking back on it (ain't hindsight a wonderful thing?) it was gradually progressing laryngeal paralysis and polyneuropathy.  Here's the page in the thread where the GOLPP  discussion starts on p 18 of this thread - but if you want to see how me and my vet missed it and thought it was ccd then read the full thread.


The absolute crisis started on 23 June 2013 and it was just lucky that his previous surgeon, Richard Savory came in to Anzac Highway Emergency to see another post-surgical dog after dinner on that Sunday night, saw Mac's films, recognised the plate he put in Mac's leg previously, had a closer look at the films, realised it was Mac,  said 'hmm... that looks like laryngeal paralysis', rang me, sprang into action, did an emergency endoscopy there and then, rang me at 11 pm to confirm the diagnosis all while Mac was still under GA, and then he did an emergency tie-back there and then to clear the airway (Mac was literally suffocating to death).  Be under no illusions - if it is laryngeal paralysis then this is a crisis in the making. 


I tell you there is a God - if Richard hadn't come in that night by chance I would have lost Mac.  I got back a new dog two days later who had another 2.5 years of happy life until the polyneuropathy (not the LP) finally got him.   So my point is that the differential diagnosis here is critical - and if your dogs symptoms don't resolve don't leave it and continue guessing like I did - get to the bottom of it now, save your dog and yourself a lot of heartache - and money.   There is also an excellent support group run out of the US by Terri Golding which is incredibly helpful for dogs with suspected LP-GOLPP and those who are post surgery - just google and it should come up.  Hope that helps. 


Edited by westiemum
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On 13/02/2020 at 11:03 AM, JimmyTheHuman said:

Thanks, we will switch the harness. The lady Vet said operational is possible, but it's invasive and has side effects...so only consider if the issue is really impacting him. It's certainly impacting him...but probably not enough to warrant a big surgery and long recovery etc.



Jimmy this is where I beg to differ.  I'm a neuro Speech Pathologist in a previous life and I promise you - I do know what I'm talking about.  I actually had a discussion with the Emergency Vets after Mac's crisis about 'why the hell don't you people use videofluroscopy to differentially diagnose what is a life threatening condition'? They couldn't give me a good answer.  In my case, Mac suddenly went absolutely critical literally overnight - he was suffocating from a blocked airway and I almost lost him.  Not to mention how distressing this condition is for our pups in the lead up, not to mention the crisis. 


I strongly suggest that you get a firm diagnosis now, don't wait, and then go from there.  


The tie-back operation does have its side effects as the airway has to be left permanently open - so you need to make some adjustments eg to your feeding regime (elevated bowls etc).  But these are easy to manage and this is where the GOLPP support group is absolutely invaluable and I suggest that you join it now (and yes you'll get the same advice).   But the operation itself is NOT huge in the hands of a skilled surgeon - but a good outcome depends on it being performed by an experienced  surgeon who absolutely knows what they are doing.  So question your surgeon and move on if they are not experienced with the condition - your dogs life may depend on it.  And it sounds like your vet has little experience with this.


LP-GOLPP is a miserable condition for dogs.  So if for no other reason, please go back to your vet (or find another one) who is prepared to treat this with the seriousness it deserves. Progressively deteriorating airways which are slowly blocking are serious.   It will save you time, money and incredible heartache in the long run - and maybe an expensive emergency admission. You have an opportunity to manage this well and without the expense and misery I went through and I so wish someone had been able to point me in the right direction before we got to the point of a medical emergency on 23 June 2013.  (Bloods, films, endoscopy, surgery, IVs, drugs, consults, three nights of emergency accomodation - it got really expensive!  And yes I'd do it all again in a heartbeat). 


Sorry to sound a bit blunt.  Even a google and a read though that thread will show you that you need to act.  Good luck and please let us know how you get on. :)




Edited by westiemum
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  • 6 months later...

Thanks for the considered post, we took note. Thought i would provide an update.

Since posting he had a scope and they said, yep, Lar par, but bearable see how long can go without surgery.

Recently it got very bad. On Walks it would almost close and his tongue would go blue and clearly couldn't breath, on the couch he was heaving to breath. So we rang them back and they gave us two options. 1 was with them and another was a more specialised place but double the price. Luckily the more specialist was happy to talk to our vet and us and give our vet and us guidance when he knew we couldnt afford double. Fairly generous actually

Had tie back surgery last week and other than 24hrs of grogginess he is brand new. easy relaxed breathing, can drink water easy and we feed him meat balls and swallows them like oysters so very little risk of aspirating food. We have a big yard, he doesnt chew sticks etc, but if he finds a juicy dead bird or something he will be into it...not much we can do about that

He is more agile and can easily jump on the couch, he was really struggling before. He has lost a LOT of bloat around his chest...i think he was holding a bit of fluid there or something.

Today (Sunday) will be his first walk since surgery Thursday.

Hopefully this gives him a few more years of easy living that includes walks.

thanks for the tips and advice.

Edited by JimmyTheHuman
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