Passive reflux of ingested food – and generally undigested – from the esophagus or pharynx is known as regurgitation. It can happen just a few minutes after your pet has eaten, or also several hours later, as long as the food continues without digesting. Unlike vomiting, regurgitation is not accompanied by nausea or abdominal contractions and can be caused by problems in the esophagus or throat of the animal.
Main causes of regurgitation in dogs and cats
Leaving aside the voluntary regurgitation that the mothers perform to feed the puppies, or the case of some cats that regurgitate the food without suffering any problem, this inconvenience usually appears as a result of pathologies that obstruct the esophagus or that affect the process of swallowing, such as throat problems.
These problems can occur frequently at the time of the birth of the animal, or they can also be acquired. Among the different reasons we find:
- Presence of foreign objects
- Muscle disease (myopathy)
- Problems with the automatic nervous system
- Congenital problems with the esophageal tract
- Enlarged esophagus
- Hiatus hernia
- Narrowing of the esophagus
Keep in mind that, the vast majority of esophageal diseases are manifested primarily by swallowing disorders and regurgitation. Sometimes other nonspecific signs such as apathy, anorexia, halitosis, sialorrhea (excessive saliva production) and fever may appear.
If the blockage of food transit occurs in the back of the throat or in the upper part of the esophagus, the food goes outside almost immediately and attempts to eat or drink can cause symptoms of drowning. In addition, food that is regurgitated may be in the form of a “sausage” and be covered by saliva.
Alterations of the lower esophagus, meanwhile, are related to the regurgitation of undigested food, but hours after being ingested.
Some facts about the megaesophagus
- The megaesogafo is a dilation of the esophagus that appears along with dysfunction or paralysis of the normal movements towards the stomach. For this reason, animals cannot properly propel food from their mouth to the stomach.
- The main cause of regurgitation in cats and, especially, in dogs is due to idiopathic congenital megaesophagus. This dilation occurs mainly in young animals. There are many hypotheses about the reasons that cause it, but the one that has more acceptance in recent times is the lack of muscle tone and peristalsis – a set of movements that allow the progression of food – in the esophageal body.
- Symptoms begin to appear when kittens and puppies are weaned.
- In some dog breeds, this disease is hereditary. It is the case of Miniature Schnauzer and the Fox Terrier. A predisposition to developing this pathology has also been observed in the German Shepherd, Great Dane, Irish Setter, Labrador, and Sharpei breeds.
If the regurgitation is not due to serious problems and that require surgical treatments, an adequate diet –complemented or not by drugs–, will allow the food to pass correctly through the digestive system and be digested properly. Also, other issues related to the animal’s posture when ingesting their food can help prevent regurgitation.
- The veterinarian will indicate the steps to follow in each case, indicating the correct diet and, if necessary, the medication to accompany it.
- On the other hand, the intake of the food in a bipedal position is a fundamental detail to overcome the regurgitation. The physical principle of gravity is what will make it easier for food to reach the pet’s stomach without getting stuck in his esophagus.
- If the animal has problems adopting this position, the food should be placed at the height of its mouth. In both cases, after finishing feeding, you must ensure that you stay 10 minutes in the same position, to ensure that the food goes down properly to your stomach.
Surely with the correct treatment – applied in time and form – you will avoid that your cat or your dog suffer these annoying alterations.