Enlargement of the Esophagus Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $2,500 - 4,000

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What are Enlargement of the Esophagus?

An abnormal enlargement or stretching of the esophagus results in a condition called Megaesophagus. Either the nerves or muscles in the area of the enlargement do not function properly preventing food from moving to the stomach. Food can accumulate in this area and is later regurgitated. Accumulated food can sometimes get displaced into the trachea and lungs. This can lead another serious disease called aspiration pneumonia to develop.

Megaesophagus is an abnormal enlargement or stretching of the esophagus which prevents food from reaching the stomach and causing it to accumulate in the esophagus. This can cause aspiration pneumonia if it gets displaced into the lungs. 


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Symptoms of Enlargement of the Esophagus in Dogs

The symptoms of Megaesophagus can be related to the enlarged throat itself, or may be related to aspiration pneumonia caused by food traveling into the trachea and lungs. Regurgitation of undigested food is more commonly seen than vomiting up of food that is partially digested. 

  • Coughing
  • Bad breath
  • Changes in hunger levels or eating habits
  • Excessive Drooling
  • Increased respiratory noises
  • Shortness of breath
  • Vomiting or regurgitation 


Congenital megaesophagus is caused by developmental issues with the nervous system or a fetal artery remnant that partially constricts the esophagus. This variety is often diagnosed at an early age, in the first few weeks or months of life.

Acquired megaesophagus is generally diagnosed in older dogs as it is often a result of other diseases and disorders that occur most commonly in older dogs. 

Most cases of megaesophagus end up classified as idiopathic, meaning that the cause of the disorder is never found.

Causes of Enlargement of the Esophagus in Dogs

The majority of cases of megaesophagus get classified as idiopathic, although there are a few well-known causes. 

Congenital megaesophagus is usually diagnosed in the first few weeks or months of life, often on the introduction of solid food into the puppy’s diet. It is usually caused by either a fetal artery remnant that is partially constricting the esophagus or by developmental issues with the nervous system. Dog breeds predisposed to congenital megaesophagus:

  • German Shepherd
  • Greyhound
  • Great Dane
  • Irish Setter
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Miniature Schnauzers
  • Newfoundland
  • Shar-pei
  • Wire-haired Fox Terriers

Megaesophagus can also be caused by certain diseases such as autoimmune disorders, neuromuscular diseases, Addison’s disease or tumors. Inflammation, foreign bodies in the esophagus and toxins such as lead have also been known to contribute to the development of megaesophagus. When the enlargement is determined to have one of these causes it is referred to as acquired megaesophagus. Dog breeds that may be predisposed to acquired megaesophagus:

  • German Shepherd
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Irish Setter

Diagnosis of Enlargement of the Esophagus in Dogs

Your veterinarian will want a thorough history for your pet, including diet and previously diagnosed disorders such as Addison’s disease or myasthenia gravis. He or she will determine if your dog is regurgitating undigested food or vomiting previously digested food, which will help with the diagnosis. A dog with megaesophagus is much more likely to be regurgitating than vomiting. This is usually determined by asking questions regarding the amount of time between the event and eating, as well as questions about the composition of the expelled food. 

In addition to the standard blood tests and urinalysis, your veterinarian may also order an x-ray of the abdomen and the chest to check for an enlarged esophagus. The x-ray may also reveal if air, food or liquid are trapped in the esophagus. 

A definitive diagnosis is usually made either with an x-ray or fluoroscopy after ingesting barium contrast material although a newer process called an esophagoscopy is being used more often. An esophagoscopy is a procedure in which a flexible endoscope is inserted through the mouth and into the esophagus. A device on the end of the endoscope displays magnified images to a video screen.

Treatment of Enlargement of the Esophagus in Dogs

With acquired megaesophagus the underlying condition will need to be resolved or managed before or concurrently with treatment and management methods for the condition itself. In some cases, surgery may be needed to correct abnormalities and in extreme situations a feeding tube may be implanted.

Recovery of Enlargement of the Esophagus in Dogs

Some puppies under 6 months old have the condition resolve spontaneously, but it is more often a case of lifelong management. Management is generally centered around preventing aspiration pneumonia from developing and ensuring that the dog gets proper nutrition. Feeding the dog with it’s upper body elevated and keeping it elevated for 15 minutes after eating is helpful to allow gravity to move the food into the stomach. Changing the consistency of the food and feeding frequent smaller meals is also beneficial. This can be accomplished by feeding the dog while it is standing on a ramp or platform, by hand while it is sitting, or using a “Bailey chair” which keeps the dog in an upright position while eating.

Enlargement of the Esophagus Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Yorkshire Terrier
11 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

11 Yr old Yorkie,12 lbs,has all symptoms but said she had never seen or heard of this in a Yorkie.After X-Rays she found the Esophagus is so large that it is pushing on the Larnyx causing a lot of. Coughing and we are trying to find out what direction we need to go

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3320 Recommendations
It needs to be determined whether the megaesophagus is either primary or secondary (i.e: myasthenia gravis); if it is secondary then the primary cause needs to be addressed. However, management is key regardless from the beginning including feeding a semi solid food in an elevated position (Google Bailey Chairs). Also, look at the articles below on this condition. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM https://wagwalking.com/condition/megaesophagus www.cliniciansbrief.com/sites/default/files/coc%20mega%206.pdf http://veterinarycalendar.dvm360.com/diagnosis-and-management-megaesophagus-dogs-proceedings

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12 Weeks
Mild condition
1 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Wobbly rear gait
Hacking cough
Throwing up
Spitting up
Gurgling sounds from stomach

We were told our puppy was born with idiopathic megae. I would like to know if surgery is an option and how much? What are the surgery success rates? Is is something you would recommend?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3320 Recommendations

Megaesophagus may be caused by known causes like vascular ring anomalies (which are corrected with surgery), Myasthenia Gravis (managed medically) or idiopathic (we don’t know why). With idiopathic megaesophagus we concentrate on giving high calorie food and elevating the front end of a dog to assist in food transit by feeding a dog standing up, in a Bailey chair or put the food in an elevated position and have a step for the front paws. Aspiration pneumonia is a concern in cases of megaesophagus which is why we recommend feeding in an elevated position. I’ve added some helpful links below for you. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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German Sheppard mix
4 Months
Moderate condition
1 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Weight Loss
Seperation Anxiety

How much approximately would a surgery to input a feeding tube be? My ME pup is just turning 4 months, and has had this disease since a few weeks after he was born.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3320 Recommendations

Usually before a feeding tube is placed in a dog, other methods of ensuring adequate nutrition and hydration are tried first, these include small portion high nutritional value foods and having the food bowel at head height; if these methods are unsuccessful, a feeding tube may be considered. There are different types of feeding tubes and placement of tubes which require little to no surgery so cost would be dependent on the type of feeding tube would be suitable for Prince; since prices can vary due to locality and other factors, I would recommend you call your Veterinarian’s Office for a quotation for a nasogastric tube and a PEG which are the two extreme’s of feeding tubes, all other prices would fall between these two. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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