Megaesophagus in Dogs
Is one of the most sinister conditions to affect dogs and to this date still has no known cure

Megaesophagus in dogs has no known cure, can be life threatening if it is severe, and will require a lifetime commitment on your part.

Your dog will spend the rest of their lives living with this condition and adapting their lifestyle around it.

If it is treated properly, although several adjustments will have to be made, the chances are very good that your dog can live a near normal life. However, it will not be easy.

In extreme cases, you may have to make a very difficult decision if your dog is not able to eat at all and will have to be fed by a tube.

WHAT IS MEGAESOPHAGUS IN DOGS ?

Megaesophagus in dogs is situation where the esophagus has basically lost it muscle tone, and it can affect any breed of dog.

However, there are breeds that are at a much higher risk of developing this condition.

When the esophagus in your dog is operating properly, it acts as an extremely muscular hose that allows for food to flow freely through it.

When megaesophagus in dogs develops, this muscular tube is reduced and dilates into a much thinner structure.

Once this occurs it is almost bag like in both appearance and operating functions.

Beagle dogsMegaesophagus in dogs can be extremely challenging

Because of this, there is a decreased mobility of the muscular contractions of the esophagus.

If it becomes severe enough, there may be almost no motility as it has very little muscle tone left.

The esophagus in your dog is a small hose like tubular structure that connects their mouth to their stomach.

When it leaves the mouth, it begins an almost straight line through the neck and chest area, where it than passes through the diaphragm muscle.

From there, it goes directly into the stomach.

It has walls that are made up of muscles that act in unison in wave like contractions that push food that is eaten into your dog’s stomach.

Under normal condition, this process takes about five seconds for the food to travel from the mouth to the stomach.

When Megaesophagus develops, this process breaks down, and your dog will do the only thing they can do because of this defect; they regurgitate.

Because of the reduced motility, the esophagus dilates and the regurgitation begins as well as several other possible symptoms.

THE MOST COMMON SYMPTOM IS REGURGITATION

Megaesophagus in dogs will show you several possible symptoms, but by far and away the most recognized is regurgitation.

However, there are several others that you can watch and the next symptom is always the sign that something is not right in your dog; coughing.

All dogs will cough on occasion, usually when they have eaten or drank too fast. But in most cases, it does not last nor does it become chronic.

With megaesophagus, the coughing combined with the regurgitation are the two signs that no owner ever wants to see in their dog.

Nasal discharge and salivation, especially in dogs that do not salivate a lot, are also warning signs.

However, there is one other telling sign that your dog has developed or is developing this condition; a foul odor to their breath.

No one knows and understands your dog more than you do, and it they suddenly develop a foul breath; it is another real warning sign.

THE BREEDS MOST COMMONLY AFFECTED

Megaesophagus in dogs has had some misconception over the years as it was originally thought to be a congenital disease.

Although it can be present at birth or develop shortly after the weaning process is done, it can also be acquired later in life.

If this is the case, in can develop in your dog at any age.

Because of this, it can affect all breeds, but there are some breeds that seem to be a much higher risk of developing megaesophagus.

It is still widely held that it is a congenital condition in Wire haired Fox Terriers as well as Miniature schnauzers.

But again, there are other breeds that are also prone to this condition.

They include German shepherds, Newfoundlands, Great Danes, Irish setters, Chinese shar-peis, Pugs, and Greyhounds.

The actual cause is still not fully understood, but it is believed to be the result of some type of disruption in the nerve supply to your dog’s esophagus.

THE ACTUAL CAUSE IS STILL UNKNOWN

The actual cause of Megaesophagus in dogs is still not fully understood, but it is widely held to be the result of some type of disruption in the nerve supply to your dog’s esophagus.

It is also believed that it can be caused by an obstruction of a foreign object in the esophagus or cancer that causes stricture or narrowing of the esophagus.

It may also be caused by some type of mass in your dog’s chest.

It may also be the result of a compression from a vascular ring abnormality. If this is the case, it is a congenital condition due to a defect of the blood vessels in the front of your dog’s heart.

However, it is also very important to understand that there are also a variety of diseases that cause some forms of neuromuscular dysfunctions in dogs.

When this occurs, megaesophagus can be a secondary development.

These diseases include Polymyositis, which is an inflammation of several muscles in your dogs body including the esophagus, or from a condition known as Systemic lupus erythematosus.

This is a condition that is an immune disorder that affects multiple body systems and the esophagus is almost always affected.

It may also be the result of Botulism, which is a type of food poisoning, as well as from Tetanus, which is a bacterial infection that results in severe muscle spasms.

It can also be cause by some type of toxicity, especially to an insecticide.

THERE IS NO CURE BUT IT CAN BE MANAGED

Megaesophagus in dogs has no known cure, and once your dog has developed it, they, as well as you, will have to learn to live with it.

Surgery can be done in extreme conditions, but it is not always affective and is almost used a last resort.

Surgery is extremely difficult, simply because of the location of the esophagus as well as the fact that it is extremely slow in healing.

In the vast majority of cases, surgery could actually do more harm than good.

There is one fact that is universal with Megaesophagus in dogs and its treatment; liquid diets must be given for the rest of your pet’s lifespan.

It will also require an extreme commitment on your part as well as a lifetime of patience.

Your dog will no longer be able to eat in any normal fashion, and will have to learn to eat while standing on their hind limbs from an elevated dish.

This allows for the liquid food to travel to their stomach via the flow of gravity.

There are drugs that help increase gastrointestinal motility, but they are not very effective.

If your dog is not able to eat and then swallow using this method, there is only one other option; you will have to have to fed by a feeding tube.

Summary

Megaesophagus in dogs may be the result of an infection, but this is extremely rare.

If they do develop this condition and can effectively learn to eat in the standing mode, their chances of surviving and leading a normal life are excellent.

If they do not and have to be fed by a tube, you may have a very difficult decision to make.

You will also have to watch your dog very closely, as pneumonia can set in very rapidly if any of the liquid diet enters their lungs.

However, with the proper commitment on your part and a lot of tender loving care, your dog can lead as close to a normal life as is possible, given the circumstances.

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