Following several recently confirmed cases of megaoesophagus in dogs, the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) is advising dog owners who have concerns about their dog’s health to seek veterinary advice.

AVA President, Dr Paula Parker said that megaoesophagus is a syndrome that affects the normal function of an animal’s oesophagus.

“The oesophagus is a muscular tube that carries food from the mouth, through the chest into the stomach. When an animal has ‘megaoesophagus’, the tube becomes distended and food doesn’t move normally towards the stomach.

“Animals with megaoesophagus can regurgitate their food and can have difficulty or show reluctance to eat. Animals with megaoesophagus are more likely to aspirate or breathe in food or fluid into their lungs and so some animals may present with coughing or other changes to their breathing pattern.

“Megaoesophagus in animals is a complex syndrome that occurs due to trauma to the oesophagus or dysfunction of the nerve and muscle that controls movement of the oesophagus. The treatment for megaoesophagus depends on the underlying cause of the dysfunction. This makes thorough investigation of this syndrome so important. As veterinarians, we also use several strategies, which we tailor to the individual animal to assist us to manage the symptoms.

“As with any pet illness, it’s essential that owners who are concerned about their pet’s health speak to their veterinarian as soon as possible,” Dr Parker said.

The AVA has reached out to its members to report any suspected cases of food-related illness through the PetFAST system. This allows us to track and trace any trends related to food associated illness in pets so that further action can be taken.

“At this stage, no causative link has been found between the Mars Petcare ADVANCE Dermocare food and this syndrome. However, there has been an association between feeding this food and an unusual incidence of megaoesophagus cases. We recognise the efforts of Mars Petcare in proactively commencing a voluntary recall of its range of ADVANCE Dermocare dry dog food products while the investigation continues to identify the underlying cause of this syndrome,” Dr Parker said.

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