It's OK to dress up your Yorkie with pretty collars or to let her wear a collar for identification and license tags. Just don't snap a leash onto the collar when you're out for walk. Use a harness instead. Your Yorkie's trachea is very delicate.
While tracheal collapse can occur in any dog, it's most common in the Yorkshire terrier. The trachea or windpipe transports air from your dog's nose and mouth to his lungs. It's a rigid tube made up of cartilage rings. If the cartilage rings weaken, the tube begins collapsing. While it can collapse in its entirety or in any section along the route from the throat to the chest, it's commonly most serious at the place where the trachea enters the chest, according to VeterinaryPartner.com.
If your Yorkie starts honking like a goose, suspect tracheal damage. While that tell-tale honk is the most obvious symptom, others include the dog's becoming lethargic, breathing heavily and overreacting during exercise or in hot weather. Symptoms usually increase when your Yorkie is excited or if he lives in a dusty, smoky or humid environment. Symptoms of tracheal collapse in affected dogs generally appear when they're about 6 or 7 years old.
Besides conducting a physical examination, your vet will take an X-ray of your Yorkie's windpipe to diagnose tracheal collapse. She'll probably begin by treating your dog conservatively, with bronchodilators, cough medications and antibiotics or steroids to reduce windpipe inflammation. If your dog is overweight, your vet will recommend a diet, as obesity increases his airway issues. If medical therapy doesn't do the trick, your Yorkie requires surgery. Depending on where the collapse occurs, the veterinary surgeon can place plastic rings around the trachea to reinforce it or install a stent inside the windpipe to keep it open.
When you're going walkies with your Yorkies, put harnesses on them, beginning in puppyhood. If you pull your Yorkie with a leash on his collar -- or if he pulls you -- you can injure his trachea. A one-time injury or regular pulling could cause tracheal failure. Using a harness avoids putting pressure on the trachea entirely. For your own and your dog's health, avoid polluted environments and keep yourselves at a moderate weight.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.