A megaoesophagus is characterized by a pathological widening of the gullet, usually affecting the whole length of the organ. Transportation of swallowed food can thus be severly impaired. The condition may be hereditary or acquired.
At the beginning of the disease, the affected dog frequently coughs after ingestion. This early symptom is generally missed, but can be a sign of a mega esophagus. Typical symptom of the disease is vomiting slightly delayed or immediately after ingestion. The food is mainly interspersed with spittle and undigested. In case vomiting does not occur immediately after feeding, frequently a punchent smell develops due to bacterial processes caused by the extended continuance in the esophagus. Should the mucous membrane of the esophagus be additionally inflamed, the vomited material may also contain blood. The impaired ingestion causes excessive loss of weight, reduction of weight, dehydration (drying up with symptoms such as dry oral mucosa with little pasty spittle, weak pulse up to breakdowns). Partly, the so called empty-swallowing occurs, what may result in flatulence and eructation. In case vomited material gets into the lung, it may cause there inflammation reactions and pneumonia, one of the most serious outcomes of the mega esophagus. In those cases the dog's general condition is normally strongly impaired. Fever and wet cough result.
The inherent mega esophagus is hereditarily conditioned. Often breeds such as Great Danes, German shepherd dogs or the Irish Setters are affected. The acquired mega esophagus can be triggered by several diseases. Often, the cause cannot be clearly determined. In this connection, among others, different diseases of the nervous system, poisoning, paralysis due to ticks or also tumors are to be named. The acquired mega esophagus mainly occurs with animals of middle or high age.
Due to the numerous causes, an extensive examination at the medical practice cannot be avoided. In doing so, in addition to the general and special examinations, among others extensive laboratory examinations, X-ray examinations, nerves and brain examinations, endoscopy and toxicological examinations are considered to localize the cause or to be able to find the cause. Often, the therapy is directed against the appearing symptoms since the cause of the disease remains unknown. Such measures include the repeated feeding of smaller portions of individually adapted feed from an elevated feeding ground, the application of an esophagus or stomach tube for ensuring the feeding or the treatment of simultaneously appearing diseases, such as pneumonia after previous bacterial examination.
In case the symptoms indicated before appear, the veterinarian should be consulted as soon as possible, so within the next days or week. In case of heavy development, the consultation becomes more urgent. Particularly, when your dog vomits directly after feeding, you should quickest possible go to a veterinarian. It may however always be that your dog swallowed a foreign matter what may sometimes cause severe consequences for health.