Have you ever seen or heard of a dog that is being fed from an elevated position? Or heard of a dog whose esophagus balloons and regurgitates food once eaten? If yes, then that dog could have had a megaesophagus.
Natural remedies for megaesophagus in dogs would be one thing sought after by a dog owner whose dog has megaesophagus.
Certain dogs are born with this condition, while others acquire it after a systemic infection, and some cases are simply from an unknown cause. A certain form of toxicity may also predispose a dog to a megaesophagus.
Let’s dive into the article so you’ll learn more about megaesophagus and natural remedies for megaesophagus in dogs.
What Is Megaesophagus In Dogs
A healthy esophagus is a muscular tube that pushes food eaten and swallowed down its length into the stomach. A megaesophagus in dogs is a condition where the esophagus is abnormally enlarged and has lost its tone and motility to push food and water down its length.
Another name for this condition is “dilated esophagus.” In this condition, the esophagus keeps storing food until it can no longer accommodate it, at which point the dog regurgitates.
Megaesophagus in dogs will expose your dog to several other conditions such as aspiration pneumonia; the food lodged in the esophagus can be easily inhaled into the lungs. It can also be a symptom of other diseases in dogs.
Causes Of Megaesophagus In Dogs
Megaesophagus in dogs can be genetic, inherited, acquired, or idiopathic.
In the genetic megaesophagus, the dog is born with the condition. There are also some genetic defects that may result in megaesophagus, such as vascular ring anomalies, myasthenia gravis, and oesophageal diverticulum.
In the genetic megaoesophagus, regurgitation starts from weaning, when puppies begin to eat solid food. Genetic or congenital megaoesophagus in dogs may resolve as the dog ages, usually by 6months of age.
Some breeds of dogs, such as German Shepherds, Great Danes, Labradors, greyhounds, and Newfoundlands, to mention a few, can inherit these conditions from their parent stock.
Acquired megaesophagus occurs secondary to diseases such as myasthenia gravis (damage between the nerves and muscles of the esophagus), degeneration or damage to the brain or spinal cord, exposure to toxins, and the blockage of the esophagus by foreign bodies.
Sometimes, the cause of this condition is just unknown. This form is called idiopathic. In cases of congenital or acquired idiopathic megaesophagus, medical management can be engaged.
Diagnosis Of Megaesophagus In Dogs
You will see the presence of air, fluid, or food in thoracic radiographs of a dog with a megaesophagus. The esophagus is usually uniformly enlarged, and the enlarged megaesophagus often displace the windpipe.
Your veterinarian is at liberty to run other tests to determine if the condition is congenital, acquired, or idiopathic. There is no specific blood test for megaesophagus in dogs, but the diagnostic tests may uncover underlying causes of the condition.
Dogs with megaesophagus usually regurgitate food and water and do not grow well. There is usually a loss of weight, and a little bulge at the back of the neck may be visible. For such dogs, touching the bulge may be quite painful.
A major way to determine if a dog has a megaesophagus is to distinguish if the dog is vomiting or regurgitating. Vomiting involves the abdominal muscles. There are usually efforts and contractions of abdominal muscles, whereas this is absent in regurgitation. Regurgitation is somewhat effortless.
Megaesophagus in dogs can be very hurtful for both owners and the dog. Dogs with this condition may hyper salivate, especially when they swallow.
As a pet owner, you may notice your dog act hungry, but when the bowl of food is served, the dog picks on the food to avoid the coughing and inconvenience that is associated with eating.
As a pet owner, you should also be on the lookout for the following symptoms:
- Bad breaths
- Weight loss
- Rapid breathing
- Muscle weakness and wasting, as a result of not eating
Natural Remedies For Megaesophagus In Dogs
While megaesophagus in dogs may sound quite horrible and heartbreaking for the dog owner, there are ways to manage and treat the condition. It is not necessarily curable, but it is quite treatable.
With certain adjustments in your dog’s drinking and feeding routine, symptoms of the condition can be arrested, and progress made health-wise. It is worthy of note that the aim of treatment is to manage the symptoms that are often seen and prevent regurgitation.
If the symptoms are well managed, food will get to the stomach, and digestion can take place. Once the food gets to the stomach, regurgitation is impossible, although vomiting may occur.
Treatment and management of megaesophagus in dogs depend on the underlying cause, if there is any. Also, the treatment of associated illnesses such as aspiration pneumonia is necessary.
Listed below are some natural ways to tackle megaesophagus in dogs:
- One of the ways natural ways to treat megaesophagus in dogs is to have your dog eat in an upright position. A 45 to 90 degrees position on the floor with the forelimbs higher than the hindlimb, is perfect for your dog. A Bailey chair comes in handy here; it is designed specifically for dogs with this condition and allows gravity to assist in getting the meal to the stomach. It is important that dogs with megaoesophagus remain in this position for about 20 – 30 minutes after eating.
- Feeding soft/or canned meals is also a great way to remedy the condition. The consistency of feed varies from dog to dog; while soft gruel meals might work for some, the dry meal works for others. Feeding small meals also works for most dogs. You can talk to your veterinarian to understand what suits your dog best.
- In some cases, a soft gruel meal is most likely to predispose your dog to aspiration pneumonia. Rolling the meal into a “meatball” might help.
- It will also help if you feed meals with high calories. This will limit the volume of meals given per day. Additionally, prevent your dog from having access to meals outside the feeding times, where you are available to monitor.
However, the condition might be quite severe in some dogs. In such cases, a permanent stomach tube can be placed directly into the stomach, bypassing the esophagus. Your veterinarian will advise on this. Stomach tubes are well tolerated and are easy to maintain.
Conclusion On Natural Remedies And Homeopathy For Megaesophagus In Dogs
Dogs with megaesophagus are capable of living long and healthy lives with the help of their paw parent, providing the necessary care needed. Megaoesophagus does not necessarily need to affect your dog’s quality of life, you can make it work for you and your dog.
Unfortunately, though the condition is quite treatable, the prognosis for this condition is guarded as most dogs succumb to aspiration pneumonia and other illnesses in the long run.
Be sure to monitor your dog with this condition to avoid life-threatening signs, such as severe aspiration pneumonia, elevated heart rate, and difficulty in breathing. It will help to check your dog’s weight often; to determine how well treatment and management have been.
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How can I help my dog with his megaesophagus?
Managing a dog with a megaesophagus takes effort, patience, and intentionality. Getting acquainted with techniques that are appropriate for managing the condition can greatly help your dog's quality of life. It is appropriate to have your veterinarian examine your dog, as well as take a thoracic radiograph to ascertain the underlying cause of the condition. This will go a long way in enhancing the management of the megaesophagus.
Can megaesophagus be cured in dogs?
Megaesophagus is not necessarily curable but it is treatable. There are measures and adjustments to feeding routines that can be followed to ensure your dog lives a healthy life.
What toxins can cause megaesophagus in dogs?
Megaesophagus can be congenital, acquired, or inherited. Certain toxins can also cause this condition, especially in dogs with a history of exposure to these toxins. Some of these toxins include lead, organophosphate, and thallium. Others are Clostridium tetani and Clostridium botulinum; the causative agents for tetanus and botulism respectively.
Does cerenia help with megaesophagus?
Megaesophagus is associated with an inflammation of the esophagus, which can cause nausea. Cerenia is an anti-emetic and can help your dog during this period.
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