Megaesophagus (Enlarged Esophagus)

Peristalsis is a wave-like movement of muscles within the alimentary tract, which allows food to move properly through the esophagus and into the stomach. There are two of these movements. One occurs when pets swallow, moving food into the esophagus. The second movement occurs to push food into the stomach. When peristalsis fails for any reason, the condition is known as megaesophagus. 

Megaesophagus (Enlarged Esophagus)

How it Affects your pet

An essential aspect of maintaining excellent pet health is learning the difference between regurgitating and vomiting. This is because while vomiting is not necessarily a symptom of megaesophagus, regurgitating is. The main difference between the two is that vomiting involves heaving and retching while regurgitating does not. When your pet cannot swallow properly, food will move quickly back into the mouth and come out. However, if food becomes lodged in the throat and your pet cannot regurgitate, the situation can become very serious. In these cases, your pet can inhale the food into the lungs resulting in pneumonia.

Common symptoms

Common Symptoms of Megaesophagus in Pets: Regurgitating Food, Hacking Cough, Weight Loss, Backing Away From Food Dish After a Few Bites, Bulges on the Neck, Inhalation of Food and Enlarged Esophagus. These are the most common symptoms of megaesophagus in animals. In many cases, after regurgitating food, the animal will attempt to eat it again. However, if your pet begins hacking, the food may have been inhaled. In this situation, you need to rush your pet to a veterinarian immediately.

Treatments

The main goals in treating megaesophagus are to make sure your pet gets proper nutrition and prevent any complications from the condition. If your dog or cat is suffering from megaesophagus, it is best to feed it several small meals each day rather than one or two large ones. Feeding from raised dishes and soaking your pet's food in water before feeding can help your pet swallow its food. If at all possible, make sure that your pet remains upright for at least 15 minutes after eating as well. If you notice any signs of pneumonia, your veterinarian will prescribe antibiotics. Megaesophagus is most common in puppies, and in most cases, they will outgrow the condition. However, if they do not and it becomes a major problem, surgery to repair any abnormalities with the vascular ring may be possible. Always consult with your vet to learn what your options may be.

Breeds Affected

Megaesophagus is most common in medium to large breed puppies; however, it can occur in small breed puppies, adult dogs and cats as well. While there are many breeds that have been known to suffer from this condition, the following breeds are the most vulnerable to Megaesophagus: Great Danes, Newfoundlands, Irish Setters, Labrador and Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, Greyhounds, Miniature Schnauzers, Wire-Haired Fox Terriers and Chinese Shar-Pei.

Megaesophagus (Enlarged Esophagus) Affects

  • An essential aspect of maintaining excellent pet health is learning the difference between regurgitating and vomiting. This is because while vomiting is not necessarily a symptom of megaesophagus, regurgitating is. The main difference between the two is that vomiting involves heaving and retching while regurgitating does not. When your pet cannot swallow properly, food will move quickly back into the mouth and come out. However, if food becomes lodged in the throat and your pet cannot regurgitate, the situation can become very serious. In these cases, your pet can inhale the food into the lungs resulting in pneumonia.

Similar conditions

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