Regurgitation vs. Vomiting in Pets

Regurgitation and vomiting in pets are treated diffrently.

Regurgitation is defined as the passive reflux of food and/or liquids secondary to some sort of inflammation or abnormality of the esophagus. Vomiting, on the other hand, is defined as the active eructation of food and/or liquid secondary to inflammation of the stomach or intestines. In veterinary medicine, it is important to differentiate regurgitation from vomiting, as they are both treated differently, and have different underlying causes.

Most commonly, regurgitation consists of undigested food and/or liquids. Causes of regurgitation include various disorders of the esophagus, including esophagitis, foreign body ingestion, as well as a condition known as megaesophagus. Differential diagnoses of regurgitation are distinguished by history, physical exam and possibly x-rays and contrast studies. Treatment usually consists of feeding a bland, easily digested diet, as well as often antacids (i.e. Pepcid AC, Sucralfate) as well as medications to promote the forward movement of food (i.e. Metoclopramide) down the esophagus. Prognosis will vary depending upon the diagnosis.

A workup for chronic vomiting also includes the above testing, but may also include further imaging such as ultrasound or endoscopy, as well as more involved blood work. Treatment will also be based on determination of an underlying cause, as well as symptomatic medications such as the ones mentioned above, as well as newer drugs such as prescription Cerenia.

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  1. my daughter found a dog with megaesophagus,hospitalised for a while now at home with her. is their a special diet to help him gain weight? will he ever be able to swallow?

  2. my daughter found a dog with megaesophagus. is their a diet to help him gain weight? will he ever be able to swallow on his own?

  3. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianMarch 23, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    There is no specific diet I would recommend except the most natural diet possible such as halo or natures variety from 1800petmeds. Also putting food dish on elevated surface to eat also may help with swallowing.

  4. The food needs to be put in a food processor and made soupy. You can give the dog just about anything within reason such as chicken, hamburger some weight gaining oil.Crush the kibbles. Our daughter has a Bluetick hound, who is a search and rescue dog. He lost almost 15 pounds when first diagnosed with megaesophagus and has gained most of his weight back. We have been feeding him high fat puppy food even though he is 3. We also give him canned food with it as well. We are using Nutro it has 15% fat it it. Also look up Baily Chairs, you need to feed your dog in this chair and let it sit in the chair for 15 mins after he/she is done eating. We spoon feed ours, b/c he is convinced he will throw up if we dont.

  5. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJanuary 28, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    Thanks for your excellent suggestions and recommendations.

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