Choking, Megaesophagus, Regurgitation


Choking & Reguritation -

Signs include gagging, coughing, and regurgitating immediately after eating.  Choking is due to the blockage of the upper airways.  The body tries to cough out the blockage while struggling for oxygen at the same time in order to survive. Most often choke is from eating grain too rapidly or it may be due to the type of grain being fed. Pellets that are rather hard and small in diameter will cause less choking problems.

When the animal is coughing and regurgitating, often you can see or feel a "ball" of food lodged somewhere in the esophagus.  You can help work it out by massaging with upward movements on the neck area to remove the blockage.  Be sure no food or water is available to the animal until after the blockage is removed.  During a less severe blockage in the esophagus, you may see regurgitation or throwing up - most likely dissolved feed that was just recently eaten.  With a complete obstruction, immediate emergency methods must be taken to remove the blockage and ensure the animal's ability to breathe.

Most of the time the cause of choking, if not due to the size of the pellets, is due to feeding management and behavior.  Feeding management can be improved immensely by feeding in long, shallow troughs which forces them to eat slower and take smaller mouthfuls.  Deep dishes encourage fast eating and enables them to get large, gulping mouthfuls which is conducive to choke.  Make sure there is sufficient feeding space so all animals can eat comfortably without being intimidated by others.  Another helpful method is to put large rocks in the feeding dish and layer the feed pellets with hay to slow down the consumption of feed.

Megaesophagus -

A more serious disorder which also may exhibit choking signs is Megaesophagus.  This is a condition of the esophagus - the main sign is regurgitation choking, and difficulty swallowing.  Secondary signs are nasal discharge, cough, and fever.   Generally, affected animals are smaller in size and unthrifty. Veterinary consultation is necessary. 


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