Retching food

Hi everyone. I have a Basenji age 11 and he's always been a fighting fit dog all his life. But recently he is retching when eatign his food. Its the whole body thing, and he usually steps away or lays down while this happens. Sometimes he screams which breaks my heart as he looks so uncomfortable. Then a few seconds later he comes back to his food and finishes it, sometimes with more retching during this. This has been going on for 2 months now and the vet is confused. Vet says he doesn't knlow what is the problem. His kidney liver and white cell blood test checked out normal. So we've changed his diet to steamed chicken and rice. He likes it but after 1 week it hasn't changed the retching thing. He's still very energetic, but has lost a little weight and is malting more than he ever has before. Hasd anyone heard of this problem, or have any suggestions which might help fix it?

Hmmm….did the vet look for any masses/tumors in his throat, or esophagus? That might be a possiblity. I would try changing the texture of the food, to see if it lessens his gag reflex.

Good luck, I hope it is nothing serious.

Thankyou for your reply. I will follow this up. I think it is the next stage of testing necessary, and I will look at food texture and see what it does.

Hi. Got a second opinion on Cairo's retching problem. This new vet believes that it is caused by a Megga esophagus (who ever names these things right?, LOL), the formation of a 'sack' in his esophagus caused by old age, a tumor ? or a thyroid problem. This might cause him to retch food before it reaches his stomach. So he is heading back on Monday for a Barium Swallow + X-Rays to see if this exists. I'm kinda hoping that this is the problem, as it can be treated behaviourally if it is from old age. This means Cairo finally gets to eat from a table [LOL: my projection that he's been wanting me to think of him as human all along!]. If its a thyroid problem then treating that will reverse the megga-esophagus. If its a tumor…well lets not go there right now! But I'll let you know, but in the mean time I have my pad and pen ready to record experiments on his eating and retching habits...

Thanks for the kind and thoughtful replies for Cairo (and me).

Hopefully, it's not serious. The one time I had a barium done on Max, it was an all day affair because they Xrayed him as the barium went through his system. Are they just going to Xray the exophagus? Good luck and keep us posted.

I know someone who has a basenji with megaesophagus. I don't know if it was related to thyroid issues, or not. But the dog came thru it fine eventually. I had forgotten about that.

Good luck, I hope it is thyroid related, because that would be very easy to treat.

Cairo had his barium swallow today. Two xrays; no megaoesophagus. So I suppose we rule that out, but thanks everyone for your thoughts. It was like the electric toaster that is on the blink… Cairo ate his food without incident when being checked out! LOL. Vet thinks the barium might have lined the stomach, so he could tolerate food better - this pointing to an irritated stomach lining or perhaps an unseeable ulcer (treatable by antibiotics thanks to the two Ozzie Perth doctors who won the nobel prize in medicine). So we came away poorer, but happier, complete with zantac to treat the reflux (wish the cheaper option had of been considered first but that's the way it goes...). So now its a wait and see game, still trying the hand feeding to see if we can get food lower in the stomach and not cause irritation.

He really seems to like egg and milk at the moment, and I found feeding him this first helped him keep food down and eat without screaming. That's one high pitched scream...eh? BW, Darren

Watch the milk, as with people it can cause more problems with ulcers and/or reflux

I took Cairo to our University Vet Medical Centre to try and get answers. Poor thing has been screaming more and more when trying to eat and has lost quite a lot of weight. After an endoscopy procedure and some fluroscopy, the vet thinks his retching food is caused by either Cricopharyngeal dysphagia or pharyngeal dysphagia. This is likely to be a functional problem with the nerves that control swallowing. What they think is happening is that he moves food to the back of his mouth for swallowing, thinks he's coordinated the swallow response but for some reason doesn't, then freaks out to find food still there rather so he screams and spits the food back out. Not sure why it has occurred but its a pretty rare condition. It might be caused by hypothyroidism or myasthenia gravis but neither causes are convincing as he doesn't have other signs or symptoms of thyroid problems or neurological disease. Apparently cutting the muscles that control swallowing can ease the problem but this has risks including food entering lungs so unless it is diagnosed properly we won't be pursuing this treatment. So for now I am feeding him a soft, blended diet with limited solids to try and build his weight up. I will keep you posted as to the outcome as we go along. Will have more tests when we can, and he's stronger. BW Darren

Does he take the soft blended food without any screaming? Is this something that can be done long term so that you don't need to do surgery? I know what you mean about the screaming–it is just heartbreaking.

The poor baby! ((Hugs)) to you both. I will keep Cairo in my thoughts and prayers that an alternative treatment or solution can be found.

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