Narrowing of the Esophagus in Dogs

A stricture is a circular scar that forms after an injury to the wall of an injured organ while the esophagus is the muscular tube that carries food and liquids from the throat to the stomach. An esophageal stricture is a gradual narrowing of the esophagus, which can lead to swallowing difficulties. The strictures are caused by scar tissue that builds up in the esophagus. 

When the lining of the esophagus is damaged, scarring develops. When scarring occurs, the lining of the esophagus becomes stiff. In time, as this scar tissue continues to build up, the esophagus begins to narrow in that area. The result then is swallowing difficulties.

This narrowing of the internal open space of the esophagus results in different signs and symptoms which include

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.

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