Esophageal Stricture in Dogs
The esophagus is the tubular organ that runs from the throat to the stomach; an esophageal stricture is an abnormal narrowing of the inner open space of the esophagus. It can affect dogs at any age, and there is no apparent genetic factor involved.
The condition or disease described in this medical article can affect both dogs and cats. If you would like to learn more about how this disease affects cats, please visit this page in the PetMD health library.
Symptoms and Types
- Regurgitation (return of food or other contents from the esophagus)
- Liquid meals are often tolerated better than solid meals
- Difficulty swallowing is seen with upper esophageal strictures
- Howling, crying, or yelping during swallowing when the animal has active inflammation of the esophagus
- Good appetite initially; eventually, lack of appetite with progressive esophageal narrowing and inflammation
- Weight loss and malnutrition as the disease progresses
- Weight loss to severe weight loss with muscle wasting in dogs with chronic or advanced stricture
- Excessive production of saliva and drooling, and/or reacting in pain when touched on the neck and esophagus may be seen in animals with inflammation of the esophagus at the same time the stricture is present
- Progressive regurgitation and difficulty swallowing may lead to aspiration pneumonia
- Abnormal lung or breathing sounds, such as wheezing and coughing, may be detected in dogs with aspiration pneumonia.
- Backward or reverse flow of stomach contents into the esophagus (gastroesophageal reflux) during anesthesia - most common
- Backward or reverse flow of stomach contents into the esophagus, unrelated to anesthesia (gastroesophageal reflux disease)
- Esophageal surgery
- Ingestion of chemical irritants
- Esophageal retention of pills and capsules
- Esophageal foreign object
- Persistent vomiting
- Mass lesion (known as a granuloma) secondary to the parasite Spirocerca lupi; occasionally seen in the southeastern United States
Your veterinarian will want to rule out many of the possible diseases or conditions that might cause these symptoms. For example, if your dog has just been weaned, an abnormality called vascular ring anomaly may be the problem. In order to arrive at a definite diagnosis, your doctor may conduct a barium-contrast X-ray, which uses a radiopaque fluid in the esophageal passage, so that the passage of the liquid shows on the X-ray image, revealing abnormalities in the passage. An X-ray may reveal a foreign body caught in the esophagus. An insertable visual diagnostic tool called an endoscope can also be useful for visually examining the esophagus in closer detail. Your doctor will also be looking for tumors and masses.