There are several reasons why a dog might have trouble swallowing which is a condition known as dysphagia. It could be that they have difficulty swallowing anything they take in their mouths, in their pharynx or in the very end of the pharynx which is the point at which food passes into a dog's oesophagus. As such, a dog might suffer from either of these three conditions when they develop dysphagia.
As previously mentioned, there are three reasons why a dog might have trouble swallowing which are as follows:
Dogs can develop oral dysphagia should they experience any sort of paralysis of the jaw. Other reasons why a dog might experience difficulties swallowing when they develop oral dysphagia could include the following:
When dogs develop oral dysphagia, they typically show the following signs of there being something wrong:
Dogs that develop pharyngeal dysphagia show different signs of there being something wrong with them. Dogs with the condition can grab food out of their bowls, but have trouble swallowing and will typically do the following:
When dogs suffer from cricopharyngeal dysphagia, they can often swallow but only after a few attempts at doing so. However, they then show signs of there being something wrong which includes doing the following:
Dogs that suffer from this form of dysphagia often have real difficulty putting on and keeping any weight on which in short means they are usually on the skinny side.
Dogs can develop any of the three types of dysphagia for several reasons which could include the following:
When dogs develop the condition and it causes paralysis of the pharynx or pharyngeal weakness, the causes are usually because they have developed the following conditions:
A vet would ideally need to have a dog's full medical history and be told how any signs of there being something wrong first presented themselves. The vet would also need to be told if a dog was involved in any sort of incident. A dog's mouth and throat would be thoroughly examined and the sort of tests a vet would typically recommend carrying out which would help confirm a diagnosis could include the following:
The tests would help determine whether a dog has developed an infectious disease, are experiencing a muscular injury or whether they are suffering from kidney disease.
The sort of treatment a dog might receive depends on the underlying cause of their condition. Should a dog be having trouble swallowing because of an abnormality in their mouths, a vet would recommend they be hand fed by putting a ball of food at the back of the mouth which would make it that much easier for a dog to swallow. However, dogs suffering from either pharyngeal or cricopharyngeal dysphagia often must be helped when they eat by holding their heads and necks up which would allow them to swallow food more easily.
Dogs that cannot put on weight or maintain their body weight might need to be fed via a stomach tube. If a growth or foreign object is found to be the cause of the problem, the vet would typically recommend surgically removing these, but only if it is safe to do so.
The most important thing when living with a dog that suffers from the condition, is to make sure they maintain good body weight when they are undergoing any treatment. It may be necessary to hand feed a dog during this period making sure they are only fed several smaller meals a day rather than two large ones. It is also crucial that dogs be sitting in the upright position when being hand fed to reduce the risks of them suffering aspiration pneumonia which is when food goes down the wrong way and into the lungs which is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate veterinary attention. Dysphagia although not a life-threatening problem in its own right, still needs to be taken very seriously and immediate veterinary attention should be sought for any dog suspected of suffering from the disorder.