Inability to Swallow

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What Foreign Objects Is My Dog Likely to Swallow?

Dogs, cats, and other pets don’t always recognize danger, especially younger pets. To them, if an object looks interesting, why not swallow it? Some of the more commonly ingested items include:

  • Toys – If the toy is small enough to fit in your pet’s mouth, it can be a hazard.
  • Jewelry – Common pieces swallowed are earrings and necklaces. Rough edges and backs of stud earrings can also cause tearing or piercing of the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Bones and meat skewers – Bones can get lodged in the esophagus or splinter and cause severe damage. Meat skewers can puncture the GI tract, as well as become lodged.
  • String – Christmas tinsel, gift wrapping , yarn, and other string-like objects are particularly appealing to cats, and can create a dangerous obstruction.
  • Clothing – Is your pet a panty raider? Items like socks and underwear are frequent offenders.
  • Feminine products – These, unfortunately, are commonly ingested by pets and can cause a blockage.
  • Rawhide – Small pieces of rawhide can cause choking or an obstruction.
  • Small objects – Anything small enough for your pet’s mouth, but large enough to get stuck in their throat, esophagus, stomach, or intestines, is a risk. This includes batteries, rocks, sticks, golf balls, leather items, and coins.


Is a treat from the table OK for your dog? That depends on what it is. Avocados, for example, have something called persin. It’s fine for people who aren't allergic to it. But too much might cause vomiting or diarrhea in dogs. If you grow avocados at home, keep your dog away from the plants. Persin is in the leaves, seed, and bark, as well as the fruit. Also, the avocado seed can become stuck in the intestines or stomach, and obstruction could be fatal.

Regurgitation, dysphagia, and esophageal dysmotility (Proceedings)

Clinical signs suggestive of esophageal disease include regurgitation, dysphagia, odynophagia, salivation, retching, gagging, and repeated swallowing. Other less specific signs can include weight loss, anorexia or ravenous appetite, and depression.

Clinical signs suggestive of esophageal disease include regurgitation, dysphagia, odynophagia, salivation, retching, gagging, and repeated swallowing. Other less specific signs can include weight loss, anorexia or ravenous appetite, and depression. Aspiration pneumonia, a frequent complication of esophageal disease, can cause fever, cough, tachypnea, and dyspnea. Most esophageal diseases in dogs and cats are diagnosed by the signalment, history, physical examination, survey thoracic radiography, barium contrast esophagraphy (“barium swallow”), and esophagoscopy.

Survey and static-image barium radiography are generally adequate for diagnosis of megaesophagus. Other functional motility disorders are best evaluated by a dynamic contrast imaging procedure (3-phase barium videofluoroscopy). Ancillary laboratory tests are useful for identifying underlying causes of esophageal hypomotility and acquired megaesophagus. Esophagoscopy is indicated in patients with regurgitation and dysphagia when radiography is inconclusive, and is most useful for diseases that disrupt the mucosa or obstruct the lumen for example, foreign bodies, esophagitis, strictures, tumors, and gastroesophageal intussusception. Other specialized procedures for evaluating esophageal function include nuclear scintigraphy, manometry, pH monitoring, and electromyography, but these studies are difficult and not routinely performed in dogs and cats.


Regurgitation is the hallmark of esophageal disease and is defined as the passive evacuation of food or fluid from the esophagus. Regurgitation results primarily from local mechanical events within the esophagus and must be distinguished from vomiting, which is a centrally mediated reflex characterized by the active evacuation of gastroduodenal contents preceded by nausea, hypersalivation, retching, and abdominal contractions. The history should determine the age of onset of regurgitation, the duration of signs, the timing of regurgitation in relation to eating, and a description of the regurgitated material. Observations or videorecordings of eating and drinking behavior are helpful.

The timing of regurgitation in relation to eating is determined by the location of the esophageal abnormality, the degree of luminal obstruction, and the reservoir effect of esophageal dilation. Regurgitation immediately after eating is most likely to occur with esophageal obstruction, especially involving the cranial esophagus. Regurgitation may be delayed for hours with megaesophagus, diverticulum, and caudal obstructions, because the dilated esophagus provides a reservoir for prolonged retention of ingesta. The regurgitated material is usually composed of undigested food (often tubular), water, and frothy saliva. In comparison, vomitus usually consists of partially digested food mixed with yellow bile-stained fluid. Dogs and cats with megaesophagus usually regurgitate both solids and liquids. Tolerance of liquids but not solid foods is more typical of obstructive esophageal diseases. Halitosis can result from putrefaction of ingesta after prolonged retention in a diverticulum or dilated esophagus. Both regurgitation and vomiting can occur together in dysautonomia, hiatal hernia, gastroesophageal intussusception, and vomiting disorders complicated by secondary reflux esophagitis.

Dysphagia, odynophagia, and salivation

Dysphagia, or difficult swallowing, usually suggests the presence of oropharyngeal disease or cricopharyngeal sphincter dysfunction, but also can be seen with cranial esophageal diseases such as foreign body, stricture, or esophagitis. Dysphagia is characterized by repeated attempts to swallow with extension of the head and neck during swallowing, and is often accompanied by gagging, retching, odynophagia (pain on swallowing), and ptyalism (excessive salivation). Anorexia and unexplained salivation may be the only clinical signs in some patients with painful esophageal disease, especially esophagitis. Esophageal dysphagia and salivation must be differentiated from oropharyngeal dysphagia and salivary gland diseases, such as sialoadenitis and sialoadenosis.

Historical findings indicative of esophageal injury

Dysphagia is a medical condition characterized by problems with swallowing. Many different overarching ailments can contribute to the problematic swallowing, including tonsillitis, cancer, abscess and oral injury. Since dysphagia can have so many potentially diverse causes, some of which are extremely serious, it is crucial to take your cat to the veterinarian immediately if you notice any overexaggerated swallowing actions. Whether a cat is dealing with oral inflammation or cranial nerve dysfunction -- there is just no guessing.

If you want to be sure you're not just imagining your kitty's pronounced swallowing, look closely at her for any other telling indications of dysphagia. Some other symptoms of the condition are appetite swings, gagging, unpleasant odor emanating from the mouth area, excessive salivation, presence of blood within the saliva, coughing, hacking, loss of weight, fruitless swallowing efforts, runny nose, regurgitation and leaning of the head during mealtimes. If your cat is displaying even just one of these symptoms, seek out veterinary attention -- stat.

Watch the video: Swallowing Disorders and Achalasia

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