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soft palette?

soft palette? Alex is a four year old male maltese. He has enjoyed generally good health. however, he has occassionally exhibited the symptoms of reverse sneezing or collasped trachea. this happened only rarely and only when he was very, very excited. two weeks ago alex woke up with some respiratory distress that sounded almost like hick-ups. a little while later he started making that choking/honking sound associated with reverse sneezing/collasped trachea. this happened evertime he got the least little bit excited or active. i immediately took him to my vet who perscribed antibiotics, steriods, and a cough surpressant. alex did not get better. the choking/wheezing has subsided but he is not moving and his breathing is rapid and shallow. when i stop the cough surpressant/sedative, the choking starts again. i took him to a specialist who thinks he may have an abnormally long soft pallett which is interfering with his breathing. they want to do a bronchial scopr test. the part of his trachea that shows on x-rays is o.k. his blood work is o.k. should i have the scope test done? isn't it unusual that his soft palett would become a problem at age four? this was the most playful, active, lovable dog you could ever have seen. now, he just lays there!! can anyone give me advice concerning alex's condition. speculation is welcome. i really love this little guy and it is killing me to see him sick for so long!
The symtoms sound familiar. I am not a vet, but our little Princess went through the same things about 7 months ago. She had ingested some small barbed pine needles up her nose. A scope revealed this. Perhaps your puppy has a different problem, but a scope is good way to find things out if your vet recommend it. Hopefully, our little baby will never have to go through something like this again, but if she did, I would make sure of a couple of things. First, make sure the vet is qualified to do this scoping. Our first vet did 2 scopes which revealed nothing. It was only after the second scope that the vet told us that the scope was too short to accurately find anything. We then searched out a specialist, who did 2 more scopes. Each time she pulled out pine needles. (The swelling of her nasal passages made it difficult to get it all the first time). The last scope relieved a lot of pressure in her sinuses and she only had small coughing fits for about a month more. Finally, a month later, she started sneezing and expelled the last of the pine needles. I guess I wanted to tell all of this, because even though the scope was not comfortable, in the long run it helped tremendously. I hope your baby is well soon.
Chuck, Pentium, and Princess Norman
Jack, It does sound odd that something that I would assume is a "birth defect" wouldn't be a problem until your little one was 4 yr old. I am wondering if he inhaled something that is stuck in his check cavity or lung tissue or something. A human friend who is a nurse and who has asthma thought she was having a bad attack...went to ER where dr said yep Asthma and treated her with appropriate meds. She got worse and worse and could hardly breathe. Turned out several days previously she had "swallowed a peanut and it went down the wrong way." She thought she'd gotten it up and out but there it was lodged in her chest (I think she said in her lung tissue). I guess I would have to get 8 more opinions if I were in your shoes. Just because a dr. is a specialist doesn't mean he/she knows everything about what is going on with your dog. Drs. and vets are just human people with more education and experience related to things medical than the rest of us...they don't all know all the reasons for things and diagnoses are often colored by their own opinions and based on "normal" medical occurrences. So, sometimes they just aren't correct when they diagnose. Please check back and let us know how your little one is doing. I am concerned about him but also interested in finding out what the problem turns out to be. Meantime, we send you positive, healing thoughts for a puppy that is soon a happy, healthy, frisky baby.
cathy brown
First of all, my heart goes out to you and poor little Alex. I know how heartwrenching it is to see these little guy's get sick. Elongated soft palate is most common with dogs that have "pushed-in" faces (bulldogs, pugs, peke's, etc). The signs are mouth breathing, snorting and snoring which gets more prounounced after exercise. It tends to get worse as the dog gets older. It can lead to attacks of acute airway obstruction, and sometimes part of the soft palate needs to be surgically removed. The reversed sneezing you were talking about may or may not be related to this.. it is fairly common in maltese and doesn't usually seem to cause them any long term ill effects.

Collapsed trachea (windpipe) can be congenital (from birth) or acquired defect that affects small breeds more often but usually doesn't cause problems till the dog is older. Signs are croupy breathing and a honking cough. Its more common in overweight dogs.

As to whether to have the broncoscopy done or not, thats not such an easy answer. I am going to assume that cost isn't the issue (these things can usually be worked out in some way). The thing is, it could possibly be just the test to find out exactly what is wrong and thereby save his life... the problem is it usually needs to be done under heavy sedation or general anesthesia.. and if your dog is in respiratory distress already... there is a greater risk of anesthetic problems. I think I'd go along with what the specialist feels is best, if he/she feels the benefit of the test outweights the added risk.. I would do it. At least that way you can know that you did everything possible for him.

I don't really know what is wrong with Alex.. but you did say speculation is welcome.. so here are some possibilities based on what I have seen in school and work as a vet tech: foreign body somewhere in the airway.. the fact that this is fairly sudden onset is what makes me think this.. a small item that may not show up on an x-ray could be the culprit (like food particles, grass, or seeds). The bronchoscopy could find and remove this curing him if that is the problem. Some form of trauma to the trachea (like from him pulling on the lead maybe??) causing a collapse to worsen. The broncoscopy could also pick this up.. surgery is sometimes required in these cases. The elongated palate (if it exists) could be blocking off the larynx. Allergic bronchitis... signs are difficulty breathing usually accompanied by a cough and wheezing... usually this is a chronic (lifelong) condition, and what you describe sounds more sudden and severe to me.. so I think this is less likely.. but a sudden severe allergic reaction could manifest this way in some cases. Some sort of irritation that caused swelling to the tissues in the airway is also possible.. could he have inhaled or eaten something that would do this?

I'm sorry if none of this is helpful.. in these cases the only thing you can do is to trust your vet and hope for the best. I think you should not wait to go back for at least another consultation if he has not improved in 2 weeks.. then you can talk over the risks and benefits of the broncoscopy .. and possible alternatives if there are any. Please keep us posted.

i really want to thank those of you who replied to my message about alex being sick. alex had the bronchial scope yesterday and the results seem good. the specialist who scoped alex says he has a very bad infection in his throat that is causing the problems with his breathing. he perscribed antibiotics, cortizone, and a cough surpressant. they told me he should be better in a couple of weeks. i hope they're right!! thanks again for your comments and concern.
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