Diseases Diseases

How To Know If Your Pet Has Megaesophagus


A common medical issue with domesticated pets is megaesophagus. Megaesophagus is when the stomach or esophagus is enlarged within your pet. It can cause difficulty for your pet to swallow foods as the esophagus is abnormally wide and it makes it difficult for foods to be processed.  It most cases, the cause is completely unknown but it could be caused by myasthenia gravis, strictures, obstructions and sometimes, tumors.  

Step 1

The most common symptom of megaesophagus is regurgitation.  Regurgitation happens when the food eaten never reaches the animals stomach, causing the animal to spit up their food along with a thick mucus.  If your pet is experiencing this problem, then he or she may have megaesophagus.  Regurgitation should not be confused with vomiting as it is an entirely different symptom. 

Step 2

Another symptom of megaesophagus is Cachexia. Cachexia is when your pet is showing signs of rapid weight loss, loss of appetite and/or muscle atrophy.  It may look like your pet is suffering from malnutrition if he or she is expeireincing cachexia.  You can usually tell by studying your pets behavior, if he or she is not eating as much or drinking as much water and is losing weight rapidly then you may have a case of megaesophagus on your hands.  

Step 3

Excessive coughing and wheezing is another sign of megaesophagus.  You will notice that your pet is having trouble breathing and getting air.  You may also notice coughing fits as well.  The coughing fits will sound and look much different than a typical hair ball issue, as you will notice it is a complete struggle for your pet to breathe in and out. 

Step 4

Another common symptom is lethargy.  If your pet is lethargic, you will notice that he or she barely moves.  You will also notice a difference in the animals personality and energy levels.  Going out to play with a frisbee may not bring excitement to your pet anymore, instead he or she may want to just lay around and sleep. 

Step 5

As we all know, our pets breath is not very pleasant.  However, if the breath of your pet is more foul smelling and sour smelling than usual, then it also could be symptom of megaesophagus.  If your pet is experiencing any of the symptoms above along with horrible smelling breath, then there is definitely more of a chance that your pet has megaesophagus.  


If you feel your pet may be suffering from megaesophagus, then it is beneficial to your pet that he or she is checked out by your veterinarian as soon as possible.  Megaesophagus that is left untreated can cause even more health issues and in some cases, even death.  If your vet determines that your pet does have megaesophagus, then there are ways it can be effectively treated.  Most veterinarians will order you to keep your pet in an elevated and up right position along with changes in your pets diet.  For those with a severe case of megaesophagus, a feeding tube may be required or even a liquid diet.  Some pets may also have to undergo physiotherapy.

By Nicole Marie, published at 02/20/2012
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