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Esophageal Disease in Dogs

By: Dr. Bari Spielman

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Diagnosis

Determining the cause of the esophageal disease can help determine proper treatment. A thorough knowledge of history and clinical signs is very important and is most helpful in making the diagnosis. Diagnostic tests are necessary to confirm a diagnosis of esophageal disease. They include:

  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Biochemical profile
  • Urinalysis
  • Thoracic (chest) radiographs (x-rays)
  • Esophagram (barium swallow)
  • Fluoroscopy, which is an evaluation that assesses the esophagus in motion
  • Esophagoscopy allows visual inspection of the esophagus
  • Diagnostics specific to megaesophagus, such as acetylcholine receptor antibody titers, blood lead level, endocrine testing and antinuclear antibody titers

    Treatment

    Treatment for esophageal disease should be directed at the specific disease. Appropriate therapy is dependent upon the precise disease. In addition, symptomatic or supportive therapy may be indicated for esophageal disease, regardless of the disease itself.

  • Medical management, including gastric (stomach) acid blockers, esophageal or gastric coating agents and prokinetic agents that promote movement.

  • Dietary modification

  • Surgical intervention for certain esophageal diseases

  • Hospitalization and supportive care in severe cases of disease

    Home Care and Prevention

    Administer prescribed medication and practice directed feeding recommendations. Be aware of secondary aspiration pneumonia. This can occur if food particles are inhaled into the airways.

    Most esophageal diseases are not preventable. For the few that are, preventing ingestion of caustic substances and foreign bodies is recommended.

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