Megaesophagus Average Cost

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What are Megaesophagus?

Since the food and water are not making their way into the stomach, your dog is not getting the nutrients needed to maintain a healthy body. Megaesophagus can occur at any age and there are several breeds of dogs that have an increased prevalence. Those breeds include the Wire-haired Terrier, Miniature Schnauzer, Great Dane, German Shepherd, Labrador Retriever, Newfoundland, Chinese Shar-Pei, Irish Setter and Greyhound.

Megaesophagus is when the muscles of the esophagus do not work and food and water cannot be moved into the stomach. As a result, the food and water stay in the esophagus within the chest cavity and are never pushed into the stomach. The food and water that are stuck in the esophagus will at some point cause your dog to aspirate the contents, resulting in aspiration pneumonia.

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Symptoms of Megaesophagus in Dogs

Megaesophagus is very difficult to diagnose so if you notice any of these symptoms, call your veterinarian and schedule an immediate appointment. 

  • Regurgitation
  • Refusing to eat
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Exaggerated or frequent swallowing
  • Coughing
  • Sour or foul smelling breath
  • Aspiration pneumonia
  • Nasal discharge
  • Poor growth
  • Increased respiratory noises
  • Extreme hunge
  • Excessive drooling

Causes of Megaesophagus in Dogs

Megaesophagus can be congenital or acquired. There is generally no known cause when a dog is diagnosed with congenital megaesophagus. They are simply born with the condition. In many of these cases, megaesophagus is not diagnosed until the puppy is much older, making it more difficult to diagnose it as congenital.

Acquired megaesophagus commonly has no known cause, either. When a cause can be determined, it is generally from a neuromuscular disease, an esophageal tumor, inflammation of the esophagus, some form of toxicity, a parasitic infection or a foreign body in the esophagus.

Diagnosis of Megaesophagus in Dogs

Your veterinarian will do a thorough physical examination and will palpate the throat area of your dog. While the examination is in progress, your veterinarian will ask you a series of questions regarding your dog’s symptoms. Be sure to answer with as much information as possible to help your veterinarian make a proper diagnosis.

A radiograph or x-ray will be done, although it can be difficult to see an enlarged esophagus. A barium swallow will also be given so that the esophagus will stand out on the x-ray.

A CBC or complete blood count, urinalysis and biochemistry profile will be conducted, although these tests usually come back as normal with megaesophagus. Underlying conditions, however, can be found with these tests. 

Your veterinarian may also use an esophagoscopy to examine the interior of the esophagus. A thin, tube like tool with a lens and light is inserted into the esophagus to see if there are any foreign objects, neoplasia or other obstructions.

Treatment of Megaesophagus in Dogs

There are very few treatment options for dogs diagnosed with megaesophagus. The main goal of a treatment plan is to manage the disease. There are several options available to manage megaesophagus. Your dog can still live a good life, even when diagnosed with megaesophagus. 


If an underlying cause of the megaesophagus has been found, surgery may be an option. When foreign objects are found within the esophagus, surgery may be necessary to remove the object and provide immediate relief while preventing further complications.


If your dog has been diagnosed with aspiration pneumonia, immediate hospitalization may be required as it can be life-threatening. Your dog will have constant medical care including oxygen therapy, IV fluids. and aggressive antibiotics.  


Your veterinarian will recommend that your dog be placed in a slanted or even completely vertical position when eating. Usually a slanted platform with your dog’s upper body elevated at about a 45 degree angle will do the trick.  There is also a Bailey Chair where the dog is completely upright when eating. Make sure your dog stays upright for about 30 minutes after eating. This allows gravity to work with your dog to move the food and water into the stomach. Water must also be given in this fashion.

Changing food to a different texture or a canned food rolled into small meatballs works best for dogs with megaesophagus. The meatballs should be swallowed whole for easier passing through the esophagus. Feed 3-4 small meals a day to ensure that the most nutrients are being absorbed. 


Acid reducers given 1-2 times daily and a motility drug such as low dose erythromycin can help your dog by minimizing any acid reflux from the stomach from entering the esophagus.

Recovery of Megaesophagus in Dogs

Your dog can live a relatively normal life with megaesophagus if the disease was detected early and appropriate feeding techniques are being used. Also, you must learn to recognize the signs of aspiration pneumonia and seek immediate treatment when it occurs. 

You have to be fully committed to caring for your dog and providing a safe, elevated feeding platform for your dog as well as continual monitoring of food intake and possible aspiration pneumonia. 

Your veterinarian will set up an appropriate treatment plan for your dog. Be sure to follow all instructions given and if your dog’s condition worsens or there are significant changes, contact your veterinarian immediately. Some dogs that have been diagnosed late will not be receptive to treatments and their quality of life can be diminished.

Megaesophagus Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

14 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

My 14 year old adopted dog vomits after eating . Hind legs are wobbly and sometimes he falls when he goes to fast. It started when he refused to eat his dry food also he will not eat canned food , now he is eating grits an canned chicken and chicken broth for 3 day's that was good but tonight after his meal he vomited again. When I feed my other dogs he seems to hungry.

My 12 year old yellow lab Bailey was vomiting after every meal for a couple of months. He may have mega-esophagus. Vet said give him Pepcid (famotidine) about 20 mins before each meal. That does that trick! He's been taking it for 2 months now - no other meds needed! For 85 lb lab - 2 tabs 2x/day was prescribed. I've been able to wean him down to 1 tab 2/day. It works!

My 8 year old Boykin has mega-esophagus. I have to make most of his food. Everything he eats has to be no larger than a pencil eraser. I make most of his food myself. When he starts throwing up I feed him Chicken and Rice or Beef and Rice. I put the beef or chicken in a food processor to chop it up really small.
The only dry food he can eat is puppy food made for the smallest breeds. He does well with vanilla wafers because they crumble and dissolve easily.
He has to be away from other dogs to eat or he will eat too fast and throw up.

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Queensland jack russel
8 Years
Critical condition
0 found helpful
Critical condition

Has Symptoms

Nasal Discharge
Excessive Salivation
Inability to eat
Excessive Drooling
foul odor mouth
Weight Loss
dirt eating

Noticed that our Dexter was losing weight and having a harder and harder time eating his dry food and drinking a bunch of water all the time, kind of all of a sudden. FYI He is one to get into things he is not supposed to even with our best efforts. While on a walk we had come across a lot of tall foxtails and when he was adamant about smelling them I reacted and pulled his lead away from the foxtails which caused him to inhale some green foxtails. Instantly Dexter sneezed forcefully for a couple minutes and then stopped, I thought after his last sneeze he had sneezed them all out since he had stopped sneezing.

A couple weeks later he was refusing to eat his dry kibble, but was eating lots of grass and dirt and was salivating like you would not believe, all the time. Very thick white foam, and his mouth literally smelled like death. He doesnt have the greatest teeth but for an 8 yr old dog they are in good condition and his breath and mouth never smelled so bad. I thought the worst, infectious disease, distemper, etc. We used to go on lots of hikes and walks so who knows what he could have licked, a toad, etc, even though he is leashed and stays on the trails, who knows what he could have licked, smelled or ate at a split second and not even notice. He is and was current on VX. The DRs ran test for CBC, Uryinalis, fecal, tick born disease, parasites etc. everything came back great, except his glucose and ALT levels were slightly elevated. Not a concern according to DRs.

An atypical sign that he was presenting was he seemed to have lost function or strength of his tongue on the top/tip. His tongue flipped backwards one time and he had an extremely difficult time to flip it back forward. No HX of seizures, neurological signs or head pressing, his nose seemed itchy but that the doctors stated could have been more allergies because its bad in this area and he was excessively grooming himself.

I kept giving him baths thinking maybe he had something on his coat and that helped him stop grooming for a couple hours it seemed. But now Im thinking the grooming of his legs at least were to help get any food material left in his cavity out. Because his legs would be coated in thick hard saliva and food material. No vomiting ever or fever. Nasal discharge though when eating and drinking.

24-48 hours after Dexters scope, he vomited up an unused tampon, after nothing was found, and seemed to be doing better, eating and drinking from baby bottle supplemented with KMR. Dexter was still salivating a lot and losing 3-5 pounds a week, for a fit 47 pound dog this was scary.

His food, wet with added KMR at this point was getting stuck in his mouth cavity and he would choke on it and try to drink a bunch of water, what I believe he was doing was trying to flush the food down his throat. I tried elevating his water bowl which I am unsure if that helped or not, seemed to slightly. Dexter the whole time frame was excessively grooming his front legs just about 24/7 and also liking his stomach area which I assume was because he was having GI problems. VET gave nausoa pills but were unable to administer because they would get stuck in his mouth and never pass through. I would tell Dexter to stop licking and he would, but his tongue would stay extended past his front teeth with his mouth closed. This dog never drools or has an extended tongue. The only way he seemed to get his tongue back into his mouth cavity was to yawn and extended his head to help ease his tongue back into place, the last bit of his tongue would go back in with his jaw slightly chattering but he managed to work his tongue back into place, most the time. Some times during the night as I slept his tongue would get stuck out and would be dry and shriveled in the morning. He always has access to water BTW.

He seemed to eat and drink best in the mornings from a baby bottle with mashed up food given to him with his throat extended in a standing or begging position. Some days he wouldnt eat at all, he always tried to drink for a really long time but it seemed as if he was lapping water and not taking much water in if any at all. although I assume he was able to get some water down because he was still alive. I took things slow with feeding and watering to be careful to not overfill his mouth cavity so he did not aspirate when I fed him.

BMs and pee all normal the whole time. This has gone on for about a month now.
at this time the Vets suggested MRI/CT scan for possible brain tumor or lesion.

Seems odd to me with a dog without any other neurological signs and a very recent HX of the vomit of the tampon so close to the onset of symptoms that VETS would almost brush off the case to refer for a 1500 minimum procedure before carrying out an xray or even suggesting an xray.

I was on a vet forum when I was told to have him x-rayed for Megaesophagus which our local vet told us was not able to be determined through an xray.

Brought him to the vet this am and demanded an xray and he was diagnosed with Megaesophagus with slight pneumonia. Cant do antibiotics for the pneumonia because those are pills to treat this and he cant pass those. I asked for an injectable which the VET said was expensive and not very likely to treat the pneumonia I pushed for it anyway and it was an injectable Convenia at 78 dollars. My local vets still have not stated anything other then to put him down or try the MRI or CT scan.....I have a problem putting down a dog who has a willingness to eat dirt in order to try to survive and eat what he can when he can manage.

Dexter is currently on SQ fluids 500mls SID to help with hydration.
Tonight I did find two lumps, one under his chin and another lower on his throat, that were not present before tonight. the one under chin about the size of a dollar coin and the other slightly bigger then a gold ball.

Soo looks like back to the vets in the this point I dont know if my decision to keep trying at this point are really worth the effort or if I should EUTH him before his lungs get worse or he dies from starvation......

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3 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Hair Loss

my dog is 3 years old Labrador. He is suffering from enlarged esophagus from last 3 months. veterinary doctor has done his barium test. He has been advised to eat the food on the elevated table and include mostly liquid diet. But still my dog is vomiting whenever he eats. He now has eye infection as well and has become weak. Please suggest if any surgery is possible.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1611 Recommendations
There isn't a surgery available to cure megaesophagus, unfortunately. There are some medications that may help with motility, and I'm not sure if Bruno is on any medications. If he is not able to keep his food down and is becoming weak, he needs to be rechecked by his veterinarian to see if there is any other treatment that may help him.

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Jack Russell
11 Years
Critical condition
0 found helpful
Critical condition

Has Symptoms

weight lose lose of breath

My Jack Russell was not well he appeared to have an issue with his ear kept shaking his head and it was sore in that area, so I took him to the vet, they gave me antibiotics and ear drops to give to him for 2 weeks. At the end of 2 weeks I noticed he was no better so they did more testing. He was struggling to breath had his neck out trying to get oxygen. They put him in an oxygen tent over 5 day period with antibiotics conducting heaps of tests and x ray, which all came back inconclusive. He deteriorated even more wouldn't eat. Last friday we made the hard decision to put him to sleep. Till this day we still don't know why he deteriorated as quick as he did

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3320 Recommendations
It is normal to second guess yourself after the passing of a loved one, but without examining Junior or performing a necropsy I cannot say whether or not you made the right decision; but it seems like Junior was in a critical condition and you made the difficult decision to put him to sleep so from that point of view it was the correct decision. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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German Shepherd
11 Weeks
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

weight loss, reguritation

my 11 week old puppy has just been dignosed with megaesophagus is surgery something that needs to be done? I just would like to know if that is the most important thing for her survival

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1611 Recommendations
Nyla's options depend on the severity of her condition. If she has a mild megaesophagus, it may be better to manage it medically, with food slurries and elevated feedings. Since I cannot see her , or know more about her specific situation, it would be best to ask your veterinarian about different options for her, and whether surgery is an option or a necessity.

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9 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Difficulty Breathing

Our 9 year old pug underwent dental surgery 2 weeks ago. Upon coming home, it was difficult for her to eat which we thought was due to 21 teeth being removed. Now she cannot eat or drink without regurgitating or choking. Even feeding with a syring is difficult for her. She finds it difficult to even make it through the night without going through choking and regurgitating phelm and mucus. She has been given metonia and formitadine, however no improvement. How does a surgery cause this?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3320 Recommendations
In some cases, some stomach acid may leak into the esophagus during anaesthesia and cause irritation to the esophageal wall which may lead to strictures or other issues which may cause swallowing difficulties; also the placement of an endotracheal tube may cause issues with the throat in rare cases. Without examining Toodles I cannot say what the cause of the regurgitation is, but you should visit your Veterinarian for a thorough examination which may include x-rays. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Irish Doodle
12 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Good day

My dog is 12 years old was two weeks ago was diagnosed with Cushing disease and Megaesophagus.
I have visited two different veterinarians and their opinions are different.
One vet claims that cushing can be the cause of Megaesophagus and the second vet claims cushing can not cause it. In fact he thinks it's addison disease the usual cause which is completely the oposite of Cushing.
Torax and abdome aultrasound was performed

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3320 Recommendations
There are various causes of megaesophagus in dogs which may include myasthenia gravis, Addison’s Disease, esophageal disorders, toxins or idiopathic causes; I am not aware of a relationship with Cushing’s Syndrome/Disease. It may be best to retest for Cushing’s to be sure that is the cause if there is some debate about it; without examining Greg, I really cannot weigh in. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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