Esophageal obstruction occurs most commonly when pets ingest non-digestible foreign objects, and is more frequent in dogs than in cats. The most common objects to become obstructed are bones and small toys, although hard treats such as jerky treats and raw hides can also pose a problem.
In order to prevent damage to the esophagus prompt removal is vital. Removal of the object can usually be performed via endoscopy, or pushed into the stomach and removed surgically.
Clinical signs of esophageal foreign bodies include exaggerated swallowing, increased salivation, retching, decreased appetite, and restlessness.
Esophageal obstructions are diagnosed with radiographs and endoscopy to evaluate the damage to the esophagus.
Treatment for esophageal obstructions is removal of the object as well as gastrointestinal medications to help heal the tissue post removal. Since prognosis can be affected by length of obstruction it is important to seek medical attention immediately.
Prognosis is usually good; however, if the esophagus is damaged due to prolonged obstruction prognosis decreases.