Megaesophagus in Dogs

21 December 2017 – News


Megaesophagus is a disorder of the esophagus characterized by diffuse dilation and decreased to absent peristalsis.

It can be classified has congenital or acquired and in either case it could be idiopathic. The congenital form presents soon after birth or by the time puppies start diets with solid food. The acquired form can present itself at any age depending on its etiology (neuromuscular diseases, endocrine diseases, esophageal obstructions and toxicity).

Common clinical signs of megaesophagus are regurgitation, weight loss, coughing and halitosis. Most cases can be diagnosed using thoracic radiography, however, diagnosing its etiology requires a thorough history and additional tests.

When managing this condition, therapy for the underlying cause should be instituted and most cases require lifelong therapy. It’s essential to meet the dog’s nutritional requirements and/or prevent aspiration pneumonia. Different consistencies of food should be tried and both food and water should be elevated. The dog should be maintained in an upright position 10 to 15 minutes after eating or drinking, which may be easier if you use a specific chair. Owner dedication is crucial for a better prognosis of this condition.

Tilley, L. P., & Smith, F. W. K. (2011). Blackwell’s Five-Minute Veterinary Consult: Canine and Feline