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Megaesophagus in Dogs - Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

Ameera Mills
By Ameera Mills. Updated: May 16, 2019
Megaesophagus in Dogs - Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

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The esophagus is a muscular tube that connects the pharynx with the stomach, helping transport food by performing peristaltic movements. There are specific causes in dogs that can affect this mobility and produce what is known as megaesophagus.

In this AnimalWised article we will tell you more about this disease, characterized by regurgitation, its causes and treatment, paying specific attention to the act of feeding a dog with megaesophagus.

  1. Megaesophagus in dogs
  2. Megaesophagus in dogs: symptoms
  3. Congenital megaesophagus in dogs
  4. Megaesophagus in dogs: causes
  5. Megaesophagus in dogs: treatment

Megaesophagus in dogs

Megaesophagus consists of the pathological and generalized dilatation of the esophagus. It occurs when there is a decrease in motility (hypomotility) in the dogs esophagus; i.e, the esophagus makes movements called peristaltics that help the transit of food, when this mobility is affected, in turn so is this transit of food. Megaesophagus can be congenital or acquired. Congenital megaesophagus is normal in puppies, generally when they start solid feeding. Acquired megaesophagus, on the other hand, can affect adult dogs and is caused by different things, such as the presence of a foreign body or myasthenia (muscle weakness) in the body.

Megaesophagus in dogs: symptoms

The most characteristic symptom of megaesophagus is the regurgitation of food and / or liquids, which, if aggravated, can also lead to aspiration pneumonia. Weight loss is another symptom of megaesophagus , as are repeated attempts to swallow. A dog can regurgitate several hours after ingestion when suffering from this disease. It is necessary to find the cause of the megaesophagus in order to treat it. It is also important to know how to feed a dog with megaesophagus, since this disease makes swallowing difficult and, with regurgitation, complicates the dogs nutrition intake which can lead to more severe health issues.

Megaesophagus in Dogs - Causes, Symptoms, Treatment - Megaesophagus in dogs: symptoms

Congenital megaesophagus in dogs

A puppy can suffer congenital megaesophagus, that is, there is a possibility it is born with carrying this disease, from which one will be able to observe symptoms during its first months of life. The esophagus cannot contract normally, its mobility is reduced, therefore it does not fulfill the function of pushing the food bolus to the stomach.

A fragment of the esophagus is targeted by this lack of activity and as a result, the rest of the esophagus dilates like a balloon. Hereditary myopathies are a cause of congenital megaesophagus in dogs, ie: genetic diseases in which a progressive degeneration of the musculature occurs. Weakness is a main symptom of this. From weaning, we will notice that the puppy tries to eat but is soon discouraged, regurgitates and may also present respiratory symptoms if aspiration pneumonia occurs (fever, respiratory distress, cough). The puppy may have problems eating both solid and/or liquid food. If you observe any of these signs you must go to the veterinarian, who will be in charge of prescribing the appropriate treatment, in which the ways of feeding are very important.

Megaesophagus in Dogs - Causes, Symptoms, Treatment - Congenital megaesophagus in dogs

Megaesophagus in dogs: causes

Adult dogs can suffer from acquired megaesophagus, which occur when some cause (foreign body or myasthenia) affects mobility of the esophageal. Without its characteristic movements, the esophageal ends up dilated, which hinders swallowing and in turn favors regurgitation. Depending on the cause of this mechanism, the veterinarian will establish appropriate treatment, paying attention to how to feed a dog with megaesophagus, since it is essential to maintain the correct nutrition for a dog who cannot eat properly.

We must know that megaesophagus in dogs is a difficult problem to solve because discovering the cause of it is not easy. We have talked about foreign bodies and myasthenia, but megaesophagus could also occur due to:

In many cases the causes of idiapathic megasophagus is unknown. Megaesophagus that appears in adult dogs is irreversible, although, with the proper care, some animals are able to survive several years with this disease. It is very important to take care with feeding and pay attention to the early detection of possible respiratory complications.

Megaesophagus in dogs: treatment

If your dog presents symptoms like the ones we have mentioned, we recommend seeing your veterinarian as soon as possible. Megaesophagus can be diagnosed with a simple x-ray or with a barium contrast test. The presence of Pneumonia can also be detected and if your dog is in fact suffering from this, it can be treated with antibiotics.

Puppies that are born with congenital megaesophagus can lead a normal life. In addition to the treatment that the veterinarian prescribes, at home you will have to take care, making sure your dog eats, since maintaining nutrition is mandatory. If you want to know how to feed a dog with megaesophagus, here are some guidelines to follow:

  • We must know that the degree of dilatation of the esophagus does not determine the severity of the situation. There will be dogs suffering from difficulties digesting solid food, while others will not be able to consume liquids.
  • Both the feeder and the drinker must be placed on a higher level, because by keeping the esophagus as stretched as possible the form of gravity allows for an easier descend of food from the oral cavity to the digestive system.
  • After the meal, it is recommended that a dog maintains a vertical posture for 15-30 minutes to ensure that the food reaches the stomach. For this, it is advisable to use a dog chair. These chairs exist for dogs suffering from this specific disease.
  • It is recommended to distribute daily food rations to 3-4 small amounts a day, rather than the normal 2 large servings.
  • As for the type of food to feed a dog with megaesophagus, you can follow a normal diet. but you must pay attention to which texture is best suitable for your dog and their specific case.
Megaesophagus in Dogs - Causes, Symptoms, Treatment - Megaesophagus in dogs: treatment
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This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Megaesophagus in Dogs - Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, we recommend you visit our Other health problems category.

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Megaesophagus in Dogs - Causes, Symptoms, Treatment