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Megaoesophagus in a dog

This is a rare condition in pets. The oesophagus is the tube between the mouth and the stomach. It carries food and water by alternately contracting and relaxing the muscles that line it. This is why you can swallow water even when you stand on your head without the water rushing out your nose ( a good party trick!)

Sometimes in pets, the muscles lining the oesophagus get diseased and stop functioning. When this happens, food, saliva and/or water tends to pool in a relaxed part of the oesophagus- usually in the middle of the chest. The food and/or water just sits there and is not "pushed" into the stomach. A short time later, the pet makes a gagging sound and out plops the meal, undigested and sometimes in a sausage shape. The oesophagus is very enlarged, hence the word "mega- oesophagus"

Lucy presented with such a history, and we needed to rule out other possibilities for her vomiting episodes. Blood tests were all normal and there was no history of her having eaten a foreign body. There had been no change in diet.

We took plain x-rays of her chest and abdomen before giving her 20mls of Barium by mouth. Barium is a chalky thick liquid which shows up very well on x-rays as a white material

We placed Lucy on a sloppy food diet. All her food is now blended with water and placed on the top of some steps. She has to eat the food with her body on a downward slope so it "slides" into the stomach once she swallows it.

So far, we have not had any complications. We are hoping that it may be due to a virus which she may recover from in the near future.

See also...

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