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Regurgitation in dogs is a completely different process than vomiting, so why is your dog regurgitating food hours after eating.
This occurs from the contents of the esophagus or pharynx.
There are several known causes of regurgitation.
Sometimes dogs will do this if they have issues swallowing or if they ate too much too quickly.
When dogs regurgitate, this will look like what they were eating previously, and you will sometimes notice that it may even be tubular from having been previously inside of their esophagus.
In most cases, this is fairly harmless to dogs.
Table of Contents
My Dog Is Regurgitating Food Hours After Eating: Symptoms & Cure
There are two main types of regurgitation, congenital regurgitation, and acquired regurgitation.
In this article, we will go over some of the many possible causes and why is your dog regurgitating food hours after eating, such as inflammation of the esophagus, a condition known as Megaesophagus, Myasthenia Gravis, Vascular Ring Anomaly/Persistent Right Aortic Arch, and Addison’s Disease.
This article will also cover helpful tips on how to deal with regurgitation and go over some cures for regurgitation.
Symptoms To Look For
Some signs to look for to determine if your dog is regurgitating may include any of the following:
Mucus, food, or fluids that are extracted from the throat, tiredness, signs of something irritating their throat which may result in coughing or wheezing, less of a desire to eat their food or drink water.
If it’s food a dog regurgitates, then the food will look as if it was utterly and completely undigested.
There is a difference between vomiting and regurgitation.
The difference between vomit and regurgitation is that with vomit there will be more contents such as bile, stomach acid, and other bodily fluids.
With regurgitation you do not see bile nor will it have the same foul smell that vomit will with dogs, there will be only food and may even smell just like their dog food.
Also, dogs that are vomiting will exhibit signs of trying to expel something from their body that doesn’t agree with them and it will be a mixture of food and it will be more digested.
This is because when a dog is just vomiting it means that either they ate something they weren’t supposed to or possibly just that something they ate did not agree with them.
Dogs that regurgitate will also do this with water, they will quickly reject all other fluids as soon as they are consumed.
It will be very similar to vomit; however, it happens much more quickly after eating than vomit does.
Whereas vomiting typically doesn’t start until after the food has started to digest, when the stomach chooses to reject it, regurgitation generally happens as a result of the esophagus rejecting whatever the body was attempting to send through it.
Whether the dog is eating or drinking this can occur after either of the two activities, in extreme cases, it will happen with even the smallest amounts of food.
Dogs experiencing and having issues with recurring regurgitation will sometimes have severely decreased energy levels, so dog owners should maintain awareness as to whether or not their dog is becoming more sluggish or lethargic than usual.
Dog owners may notice that their dog is sleeping much more often throughout the day and for vastly longer periods.
They might begin to have to take small naps throughout the day as well because they will just seem simply exhausted by doing anything.
This will be drastically exacerbated by any sort of activity, such as, playing, walking, or running.
They may appear to be more uncomfortable and they might not be as affectionate or friendly towards their owners as they normally would.
Dogs with this issue can also experience having bad breath or lumps in their throat.
Undereating or unexplained weight loss would be another possible indicator that they may be experiencing issues with regurgitation.
Another key symptom to look out for is if the dog is continuing to try to eat over and over again despite continuing to regurgitate, which could be a sign for parasites.
If this is the case and causing the regurgitation, a veterinarian can provide the proper medications to cure this or possible treatments to minimize the effects of regurgitation or just lessen the frequency with which it occurs.
Dogs experiencing regurgitation problems may exhibit other symptoms that would usually seem to be completely unrelated, like fevers or develop runny noses.
The key with regurgitation is to notice the patterns with your dog, if it continues to happen or seems to get worse that might be a sign another underlying issue is causing it.
This condition is where the esophagus loses the ability to continue moving food in the stomach.
When puppies start experiencing issues with keeping solid food down and experience regurgitation issues, this is known as congenital since it starts at birth.
Dogs with Megaesophagus will experience issues such as coughing, sneezing, and overactive salivary glands.
Oftentimes regurgitation can even occur while the dog is sleeping.
If this happens while the dog is sleeping, then the dog will not be aware that this is happening and may inhale the contents which can cause choking or even death.
If it happens to be fluids that the dog regurgitated, then the inhalation can also lead to the dog developing pneumonia.
In most cases, dogs will recover from pneumonia, but it’s important to get a dog to the vet immediately if this is suspected.
Puppies that experience this have a very specific genetic structure that makes them prone to this.
There are also certain breeds such as German Shepherds, Great Danes, Miniature Schnauzers, Labrador Retrievers, Fox Terriers, NewFoundlands, Irish Settlers, Shair-Peis, Greyhounds, and many more that have a much higher probability of being born with this condition.
Diagnosis Of Congenital Megaesophagus
Veterinarians will possibly use contrast imaging [np1] to determine if a puppy has this condition.
Contrast is a dye that is used with taking any MRIs or CT scans in dogs.
There is also the option to perform fluoroscopy, which would give more in-depth detail of how exactly the puppy is being affected differently by this condition.
Fluoroscopy is where imaging is used to view the inside of a dog’s body while it is still in motion, so it is basically like watching a video.
Luckily the video motion can be replay back, so it is possible to fully go back and see what exactly is going on in the dog’s body.
The image will look similar to an x-ray the difference is that the images will be capturing moments in motion in real-time.
For this procedure to work dogs luckily are still able to sit or move around if they need to.
The fluoroscopy will be able to view the dog’s heart, respiratory system, and digestive system.
So, since this is so through it’s a great option to use for diagnosing a dog.
There is even the ability to watch the food as it is processing through a dog’s body as well.
A veterinarian will also rule out any possibility of a puppy having aspiration pneumonia.
This is in some cases is more common with puppies with congenital megaesophagus.
Adult dogs that exhibit signs of regurgitation and have no previous diagnosis of congenital megaesophagus are considered to have acquired this condition.
Sometimes the regurgitation episodes can be as little as once a day, but other times can be multiple episodes per day.
Normally this is shown with adult dogs from the ages starting from seven to fifteen years old.
Most adult dogs will exhibit signs such as issues with increased salivation and coughing or wheezing.
Diagnosis Of Acquired Megaesophagus
Veterinarians will perform urine tests and radiography tests to confirm if megaesophagus is present.
If needed an endoscopy can be performed as well to diagnosis this.
An endoscopy is a procedure that involves a tube that has a camera with it that goes through the dog’s stomach to continue any possible conditions in the dog.
This can also be inserted into the dog’s rectum if needed.
The endoscopy will provide a more detailed look into the dog’s organs and their functioning.
This will also give the ability to inspect the esophagus further for any signs of damage.
Multiple different conditions can cause megaesophagus, so it is important to rule these out with your vet.
Other causes of megaesophagus in dogs can include hypothyroidism and hypoadrenocorticism.
Dogs with this condition will usually be fed a high-calorie diet in small quantities.
Depending on the dog they might respond better to more liquid foods or some to only solid foods.
If a dog is too sickly to be able to feed normally, it can also be fed through a tube to ensure they have all the proper nutrition.
Treatment For Acquired Megaesophagus
The best way for owners to help their dogs is when feeding them food or water to always have them in an upright position to receive it.
There are dog chair options that owners can purchase for their dogs to assist them with consuming food and water safety.
One of these chairs is called a Bailey Chair, which is one of the most recommended chair options for dogs to use while feeding.
This type of chair is highly recommended by many veterinarians.
There is also the option to get dogs an inflatable e-collar which will help keep their head continuously elevated.
These pillows are incredibly soft and a pillow for the dog that goes around its neck.
They are comfortable for the dog and the dog can sleep in them if they would prefer to, as it may help to reduce the level of their discomfort.
These can be found at many retail pet stores so it is an affordable and great option for dogs suffering from acquired megaesophagus.
Many pet owners feel that this is a major plus for their dogs suffering from this condition.
Look for any other options that offer extra lifting support for your dog as this is the main key to hopefully decrease the level of discomfort they are feeling daily.
Signs To Look Out For
In some cases, if the dog’s condition worsens and the regurgitation increases, this might be a sign that their treatment options need to be adjusted.
With Megaesophagus it’s important to look out for any major changes in feeding habits, their breathing rate, any signs of fever, pale gums, or if the dog is not acting right.
These could be serious signs that something else is wrong and the dog would need to be checked by the vet to make sure.
It’s important to always check for any new behaviors or symptoms in your dog.
An owner is the one who knows their dog best, so if you feel something is wrong or off, then that’s most likely the case.
Always follow a veterinarian’s recommendations as well.
If certain medications or supplements are recommended for your dog, always consider those as an option.
It might make it significantly easier for them to function and to feel better.
This disease causes issues with how nerves communicate with the muscles.
The neuromuscular junctions are in a constant state of confusion, because of the neuromuscular communication dysfunctions.
A neuromuscular junction is where neurons and muscles interact.
The problem is that the heart muscles, the involuntary muscle system, the intestine muscle, and the skeletal muscles are all supposed to work together and properly.
However, with myasthenia gravis this is impossible.
The acetylcholine message that comes from the nerve can’t perform its job correctly because there are already massive amounts of damage done to the nerves and muscles.
The two types are myasthenia gravis which are congenital and acquired myasthenia.
With congenital Myasthenia, this is where a dog is simply born without normal neuromuscular junctions.
These dogs that are born with this have just not enough acetylcholine receptors.
Acetylcholine receptors are membrane proteins that attach to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.
This is simply caused by just not having great immune system support.
Unfortunately for these dogs, they have a compromised immune system that causes their bodies to be unable to fight off harmful organisms inside of the body, unlike those with a healthy immune system.
This is most seen in Springer Spaniels, Smooth Fox Terriers, and Jack Russell Terriers.
This may affect only one body part of a dog such as their throat or esophagus area or could affect most of their body similarly to the congenital version of myasthenia gravis.
While this is more common in older dogs, younger dogs can also be susceptible to this.
Many dogs will purposely avoid eating and drinking too much if they are experiencing intense symptoms such as coughing and irritation while trying to consume anything.
This can cause major nutrition deficiencies, so it is important to keep a note of how much your dog can consume.
As they become weaker, they are more prone they are to other issues as well.
Keeping your dog as healthy as possible while dealing with this will help improve their chances of fighting myasthenia further.
Dogs can start showing more increased mucus while coughing.
They even actually start coughing up mucus as well.
Dogs might begin to show an alarming amount of weight loss.
Make sure to pay close attention to this.
Also, making sure to keep track of their weight and if they are continuing to lose the weight and documenting exactly how much they’ve lost can be instrumental in determining if that there are an issue and the extent of the issue’s seriousness.
If a dog only has this in one specific area this is considered focal.
Generalized myasthenia is where all the skeletal muscles are involved
Fulminating is where this means it’s more serious.
At this level, it has probably spread more and this requires immediate attention.
Symptoms Of Acquired Myasthenia
Some symptoms can include a dog’s voice changing.
Sometimes if a dog is constantly coughing or clearing its throat their voice might seem deeper.
They will sometimes start to show a decreased interest in exercise.
They might have no interest in playing with other dogs when normally they would always engage in play.
Some dogs also might have issues with fully closing their eyes while sleeping.
It’s very important to watch their sleeping habits as this will tell a lot about the quality of their health.
Many times dogs with this condition will start getting tired after only a few minutes of exercise.
In some cases, dogs can regain some of their energy for a short period.
As soon as they push themselves too much or it can flare up again though, then they are right back to have little to no energy when it comes to exercising.
This is why it’s important to not push your dog too hard, especially in the case of myasthenia.
Only allow them to do as much as they can without hurting themselves.
They will appear weak in the legs.
This can affect sometimes only one or two of their legs or all four.
Dogs may experience issues with cramping as well.
Sometimes they will have issues with excessive drooling.
Sometimes this can affect all skeletal muscles.
Vascular Ring Anomaly
Another cause of regurgitation in dogs can be a condition known as vascular ring anomaly.
This means that there is an abnormal development of the aortic arches that go into the esophagus.
The esophagus is then damaged and gets compressed at the base of their heart, which makes it hard for solid food to pass through a dog properly as it normally would.
Some signs of this in dogs will be an inability to ever get full.
A dog could go only a few minutes without eating and still keep wanting more and more.
Dogs might also experience stunted growth from this condition.
There are three different types of vascular ring anomaly.
There is the right aortic arch that is usually the most common in dogs.
Then there is the double aortic arch which is where the windpipe narrows.
Lastly, there is the left aortic arch, but this is not commonly affected.
It can in some cases lead to a dog having an incomplete vascular ring.
It is believed that vascular ring anomaly could be genetic.
Meaning this could be passed on down the generations of dogs.
It has been confirmed that in some cases when a puppy is still developing in the early fetal stages the blood vessels don’t develop in the correct place.
Due to this, this starts causing issues with the esophagus.
As they continue to grow what happens is that the ring of vessels starts encircling the trachea and the esophagus.
Diagnosis Of Vascular Ring Anomaly
In puppies, a veterinarian will usually be able to tell they are affected by this if they quickly bring their food back upright after eating.
It will not be too much effort and it is usually very quick.
Right now, to diagnose vascular ring anomaly a thoracic radiograph is used to determine if a dog has this or not.
Despite regurgitation in dogs possibly being caused by very serious health concerns most dogs can live out their lives fairly happily.
There are technology and items designed to make their quality of life better for them.
As long as it’s caught early, a veterinarian can go over the treatment plan to keep your dog healthy and happy as much as possible and figure out why is your dog regurgitating food hours after eating.
It does not always mean it’s the end of quality life for a dog.
With today’s advancements in medicine and research options, many dogs today are still able to function fairly similarly to other dogs.
The key is in keeping an eye out on your dog and making sure that having major changes that occur to always get that checked out further.
This article gives a more positive outlook on regurgitation in dogs and how to better support dogs.