Inflammation of the Esophagus in Dogs

Inflammation of the Esophagus in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

Most common symptoms

Mouth Salivation / Poor Appetite / Redness / Seizures / Vomiting / Weight Loss

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Rated as serious conditon

10 Veterinary Answers

Most common symptoms

Mouth Salivation / Poor Appetite / Redness / Seizures / Vomiting / Weight Loss

Ask a Vet
Inflammation of the Esophagus in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

Jump to section

What are Inflammation of the Esophagus?

Esophagitis is described when the esophagus (a tunneled canal that is lined with mucous membrane and linking the throat to the stomach) becomes inflamed within its inner and outer layers.  Inflammation of the esophagus may result from conditions such as acid reflux, obstruction due to a foreign object, or neoplasia. The most common indicator of esophagitis in dogs is struggles with food consumption and fluid intake. Your pet may regurgitate his food or show signs of discomfort when swallowing. Mild inflammation often has no obvious symptoms. Medication is most often the course of treatment, though in some cases, surgery is needed.

Inflammation of the esophagus can be a secondary complication resulting from a wide variety of gastrointestinal disorders. Inflammation, such as with esophagitis, typically occurs when there is an illness involving the gastrointestinal tract.

Symptoms of Inflammation of the Esophagus in Dogs

  • Pain 
  • Drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Coughing
  • Weight loss
  • Poor posture and movement
  • Excessive reflux or regurgitation

Types

There are many types of disorders of the esophagus that can cause inflammation.  

  • Esophageal foreign bodies
  • Acid reflux
  • Gastroesophageal reflux
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Congenital lower esophagus sphincter abnormality
  • Strictures
  • Megaesophagus (dilation of the esophagus)
  • Esophageal diverticula (expansion of the esophageal wall)
  • Infections (aspiration pneumonia)
  • Parasitic infections (protozoa, ringworm, tapeworm, whipworms, flukes)
  • Viral infections (rotavirus, parvovirus, coronavirus)
  • Bacterial infections: (salmonella, e.coli)
  • Various medications (antibiotics, nonsteroidal inflammatory agents)
  • Tumors
  • Cricopharyngeal achalasia (swallowing disorder)
  • Stomach ulcers (infected with H.Pylori)

Causes of Inflammation of the Esophagus in Dogs

  • The swallowing and ingestion of foreign bodies, such as bones or toys, often cause esophagitis in canines
  • Esophageal strictures can be associated with the act of consuming foreign bodies and can cause inflammation
  • Any disease that causes acute or chronic emesis (vomiting) can result in gastroesophageal reflux disease where reflux consistently flows from the stomach to the esophagus
  • One of the reasons for reflux could be the abnormal functioning of the lower esophageal sphincter 
  • When the sphincter is closed, food and acids are not allowed to flow backwards into the esophagus;  if your dog has recently undergone anesthesia, this can cause the sphincter to relax and remain that way too long, allowing the flow of acids to enter the esophagus
  • Dogs with narrow nostrils and shorter noses (known as Brachycephalic breeds) such as Pugs, English and French Bulldogs, Chinese Shar-Peis, and Chow Chows are known to have a congenital condition that results in the abnormal functioning of the diaphragm (hiatal hernia)
  • This hernia occurs when the muscle lining of the hiatus (initial part of the diaphragm) weakens, allowing the stomach contents to protrude through the diaphragm and into the chest region
  • Neoplastic tumors, toxicity (like poisoning due to ingestion of cleaning products or rodenticide), parasites, and bacterial or viral infections also contribute to inflammation

Diagnosis of Inflammation of the Esophagus in Dogs

If you or your veterinarian suspect that blockage is due to a lodged foreign object, he may conduct thoracic and neck x-rays.  An esophagogram, which is the use of barium contrast (barium sulfate or iodinated contrast) is a diagnostic tool that can actively visualize the inside of your dog’s body as he consumes food. This provides further information that includes the size, content, and overall condition of the gastrointestinal tract.

The use of an endoscope may be suggested as it has a camera attached that can take photographs and take tissue samples for testing.   An additional tool is the esophagoscopy, taking a step further as it uses the endoscope to inspect the condition of the esophageal mucosa.

Contrast radiology, biopsy, and esophagoscopy can also be done to check for strictures, reflux, and neoplastic growth.  A complete blood count and biochemical profile are standard tests to be done that examine the specific amount of red and white blood cells, in addition to platelets, to determine whether they are neoplastic cells.

Cannanine

Treatment of Inflammation of the Esophagus in Dogs

There are many ways to treat inflammation of the esophagus, starting with dietary management.  Based on the severity of the blockage, stricture, or reflux, food and water intake should be restricted to allow the esophagus to heal (symptoms could worsen and the overall health of your pet could deteriorate).  A low fat and low protein diet rich in carbohydrates should be given in small increments along with foods that do not have allergens, including soy, rice and gluten. If your pet is a candidate for surgery, the use of IV fluids (especially electrolytes and potassium) or a feeding tube that is directly inserted into the stomach, bypassing the esophagus completely may be necessary to allow it to heal.   

Using medications such as gastric acid inhibitors (antacids) that decrease the amount of gastric stomach acid produced may be prescribed. Esophageal or gastric coating agents can be used to protect and soothe the lining of the esophagus due to consistent exposure to stomach acids.  Gastrointestinal motility drugs can aid with swallowing.  Antibiotics can be used to eliminate and kill harmful bacteria, in addition to pain medication to reduce any discomfort. Nonsteroidal inflammatory agents should be used with discretion, as they are well known to cause ulcers.  

Strictures (narrowing) of the esophagus can occur due to severe esophagitis. Balloon catheter therapy is done with an endoscope to widen the stricture, and may be done a couple of times more to ensure that the results are permanent. Rigid endoscopy removal may also be helpful to remove foreign bodies such as toys or bones as the use of the forceps enables maneuverable ability to grasp objects. However, surgery may be necessary based on the level of damage and the cause. A transthoracic esophagostomy may be required for larger foreign bodies. Tumors may be treated with aggressive chemotherapy drugs or radiation.

Recovery of Inflammation of the Esophagus in Dogs

The use of medication is extremely helpful in countering the symptoms of esophagitis. Your veterinarian may advise you to refrain from solid foods and water for up to 3—5 days. The outlook and prognosis of mild to moderate esophagitis is good. Dogs with strictures have a more guarded prognosis as esophageal perforation (a hole in the esophagus leading to the stomach) may occur with balloon catheter therapy and can be lethal. However, if your dog is diagnosed with neoplastic tumor growth, the prognosis is considered to be very poor with a life expectancy of 1-2 months (no treatment) and up to 12-14 months (with treatment).

*Wag! may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Items are sold by the retailer, not Wag!.

Inflammation of the Esophagus Average Cost

From 79 quotes ranging from $800 - $4,000

Average Cost

$2,300

Inflammation of the Esophagus Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

dog-name-icon

Teddy

dog-breed-icon

Maltese

dog-age-icon

9 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious condition

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Gagging
Vomiting
Regurgitation
Breathing Difficulty When Gagging

Hi there, My dog ate the zipper off a zip at the end of Jan and needed stomach surgery to remove it. Although he recovered from the stitches etc, it became obvious fairly quickly that he had a new problem as he was unable to keep food down. Our vet diagnosed him with oesophagitis after an endoscopy and it was determined that he developed this condition as a result of the anaesthetic rather than swallowing the zip. Ever since, I've been feeding him soft food from a height but if he gets even the smallest amount of food on the ground and eats that, he vomits up lots of foam and sometimes bile from his stomach. My main question is how long should it take for his oesophagus to recover and if there is a stricture there, will that actually heal by itself or does it need medical intervention? At the moment the vet has prescribed antepsin, losec and emeprid but I thought maybe they are also causing his stomach to be upset and might be while bile is coming up at times. Would it be a good idea to stop all meds and see how he gets on then? Is the main thing to ensure he doesn't vomit at all in order for it to start the healing process? For example last week he had 4 days of no vomiting and then ate a cooked mushroom off the ground and vomited that back up immediately with foam. Over the next 2 days, at some point he brought up a small bit of bile so I'm not sure if that was a result of the set back the day before or whether it's from the medication as both incidents weren't at feeding time? The good thing is that he is in great form and is still interested in food - too much actually as he is searching the floors for anything that's dropped which I'm trying to avoid! Any advice you have would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Anna

March 6, 2018

Teddy's Owner


answer-icon

recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

Whilst it isn’t common, in some cases acid from the stomach will leak into the esophagus causing irritation and in some cases strictures; if there is a stricture present and there is no improvement in the condition, balloon dilation therapy may be used to try to increase the size of the lumen at the point of the stricture. It is important to continue with the medications prescribed by your Veterinarian and to not allow anything to drop on the floor, you should also punish Teddy for eating off the floor as an attempt to discourage this behaviour (I know it can be difficult). Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

March 6, 2018

Correcting bad behavior by punishment is wrong as there is no excuse for abuse and as a Dr I'm surprised you would even say that. Teach him to "leave it"...and say that when you drop something. It works very well.

Aug. 24, 2018

Patricia H.

dog-name-icon

Grady

dog-breed-icon

Wire Fox Terrier

dog-age-icon

8 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate condition

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Throwing Up
Regurgitating,

My 8 yr old wire hair Fox Terrier got into a bowl of spaghetti and ate a lot! After she ate it, she started throwing up, at times gag like throwing up. A couple days later she started regurgitating. Took her to the veterinarian, after X-rays they diagnosed her with Mega Esophagus. She didn’t have any problems before the spaghetti incident. Could it really be because of that and not ME?

Jan. 15, 2018

Grady's Owner


answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

1611 Recommendations

Thank you for your email. Secondary mega esophagus can be caused by inflammation of the esophagus, so I would say that is possible, yes. Regardless of the cause, the mega esophagus needs to be treated - I'm not sure what therapy Grady is on, but it would be best to follow up with your veterinarian for further care. I hope that things resolve for Grady and he gets back to his normal self!

Jan. 15, 2018

Thank you for your help. She is on antacids, Metoclopramide & Sucralfate. We are feeding her at an incline and her food is a slurry, kinda like melting ice cream. After she eats, we hold her up for about 30 minutes. If this was the cause, is there hope that once the esophagus possibly heals that this could correct itself?

Jan. 16, 2018

Paula L.

dog-name-icon

Doakes

dog-breed-icon

Sheepadoodle

dog-age-icon

4 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate condition

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Coughing
Difficulty Eating
Wheezing

Our dog has been having difficulty eating. While he's eating he stops to wheeze and cough and seems like he has difficulty breathing. We took him to the vet and have just started doing the medication that coats his throat as well as a soft foods diet, as they think it's an inflamed esophagus. How long does it typically take for medication like this to work? Could it have been caused by chewing on a bully stick?

Jan. 4, 2018

Doakes' Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

1611 Recommendations

Thank you for your email. Without examining him, I can't comment on how quickly he should recover, but if he did have some irritation to his esophagus, the medications should start to help within a day or two. If it has been longer than that, he may need a follow up visit to assess whether things are getting better or not, and if he is responding to the medications, or if he needs a different course of treatment. I hope that he gets better quickly!

Jan. 4, 2018

dog-name-icon

Jagger

dog-breed-icon

Dachshund sheltie mix

dog-age-icon

3 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate condition

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Vomiting
Discomfort
Discomfort When Swallowing
Choking/Coughing

My puppy is a little over 3 months old. 2 days ago someone gave her a bunch of cooked white chicken meat at about 4 pm. It was an excessive amount and i asked him to stop and he gave her more. My gut told me it wasn’t good. Then she went to the vet for her first check up. I told the vet and he wasn’t worried and said she looked perfect. She got 2 vaccinations and I brought her home. She slept the rest of the night and at about 3 am she threw up. In her vomit was the chicken and Christmas tree pine needles from our tree. She threw up approximately once every 1-1.5 hrs until 9 am. After the first 2 vomits everything after that was stomach bile. At 9 was when I called the vet and they said to bring her.. He didn’t see any obvious signs of obstruction so we gave her fluids and anti nausea medication. He said we could do a radiograph but it was expensive so I said we would hold off for now. I took her home and she slept all day. She got up a few times to drink water and pee but that was it. In the night she would wake up and have to pee and then drink more water. She finally started wagging her tail and giving kisses again but is still very lethargic and won’t eat. She also has not pooped in more than 24 hrs. Now what we have noticed is that when she drinks she will take a few sips and then sort of cough/choke and it seems unconfortable to swallow. Is it possibly that her esophagus could be inflamed from all of the vomiting? I also was worried that there could be a pine needle stuck in her throat. What do you think of all this?

Dec. 30, 2017

Jagger's Owner

answer-icon

recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

When I was reading your question I was thinking about the possibility of a pine needle being stuck in the throat since the small size and folds of the tissue make a good environment for problems. Lethargy isn’t uncommon after a multiple bouts of vomiting and reduced food intake, I would keep an eye on Jagger and possibly try to feed some wet food with some plain canned pumpkin to see if some bowel movement can be made. If the coughing/choking continues, you should visit your Veterinarian for an examination. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Dec. 30, 2017

dog-name-icon

Apollo

dog-breed-icon

Staffordshire Bull Terrier

dog-age-icon

10 months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate condition

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Drooling

We have a staffordshire bull terrier, 10 months old. Yesterday he suddenly started drooling, drinking a lot of water and acted like he couldn't breathe. Rushed him to vet, x-rays showed a lot if swelling in esophagus. Gave him a steroid shot and sent him home with a script for antacids. We spoon fed him a can of dog food last night. What caused thus sudden onset? Is there anything else we need to do. We rescued this sweetie from a terrible situation and want the best for him.

Dec. 8, 2017

Apollo's Owner

answer-icon

recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

Swelling or inflammation of the esophagus may be caused by a variety of different causes but is mainly attributable to acid reflux, poisoning or consumption of caustic substances or foreign objects; management is generally to control inflammation and reduce stomach acid. This is the first step in treatment and is generally effective, if the condition continues then further diagnostic testing would be required. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Dec. 8, 2017

dog-name-icon

MM

dog-breed-icon

Mixed breed

dog-age-icon

14 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious condition

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Fever
Vomiting
Coughing

I have a lab mix, 14 1/2 years old. She began to cough and developed a fever and began vomiting about 4 weeks ago. The vet diagnosed her with kennel cough and prescribed antibiotics. She began to be able to eat canned dog food (was only eating baby food), but began to vomit again. The vet informed us that she has an inflamed esophagus, and prescribed prednisone, antibiotics, cough medication, and anti-nausea medication (all pills). She's been unable to keep the food and the medicine down and has been having trouble with water, as well. She continues to vomit and has lost a lot of weight. Is there anything else we can do besides comfort her and continue to provide the medication and water/food in small amounts?

dog-name-icon

Lucky

dog-breed-icon

Chihuahua

dog-age-icon

6 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate condition

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Out of no where he began to vomit sylvia non stop and chocking. Multiple visits and 2 emergency visits they diagonised him with esophagitis. He has been on the new meds for a day but is still very uncomfortable and not keeping hardly any food down. When can i expect him to take a turn for the better?

Inflammation of the Esophagus Average Cost

From 79 quotes ranging from $800 - $4,000

Average Cost

$2,300

Cannanine