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Esophagitis in Dogs

By: Dr. Bari Spielman

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The magnitude of clinical signs depends on the severity and depth of esophageal inflammation. The signs may be subtle and may be present for weeks or months, or they may be extremely severe and come about quickly.

Because the history, physical examination findings and overall presentation of dogs with esophagitis are variable, there are other illnesses or symptoms that might initially be considered when establishing a definitive diagnosis. These include:

  • Hiatal hernia is an abnormality of the diaphragm that allows part of the stomach to be displaced into the thoracic (chest) cavity.

  • Neoplasia (cancer) of the esophagus can be associated with inflammation and cause similar signs.

  • Esophageal foreign bodies are objects within the esophagus that will not move out without assistance. Most often they include things like bones or toys, but can include food or any other object.

  • Esophageal stricture is an abnormal narrowing of the esophagus. This often occurs secondary to severe esophageal inflammation.

  • Megaesophagus is a decreased or absent esophageal movement that usually results in dilatation (stretching and widening) of the esophagus.

  • An esophageal diverticulum is a pouch-like dilatation of the esophageal wall.

  • Vascular ring anomaly is strangulation or compression of the esophagus within several structures, causing a partial megaesophagus.

  • Melena is digested blood that is passed in the feces. It can occur secondary to swallowing blood for any number of reasons, including severe esophageal inflammation, inflammation or ulceration within the mouth or gastrointestinal tract, or any coagulation (clotting) disorder.

  • Pain from any other disease process, including tooth, mouth or neck pain may cause the same symptoms as esophagitis.

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