Dog Swallowed Food Down Wrong Pipe

Can you swallow food down your windpipe?

Signs and Treatment of Esophageal Blockage in Dogs

When a dogs esophagus is blocked, most dog owners will become aware of the problem as the symptoms are quite noticeable. Yet, treatment may be delayed because owners may not understand what exactly has happened, especially if they havent witnessed the dog swallowing any foreign object. Consider that semi-solid food and water may be still able to pass past the blockage if it is partial.

The following are symptoms suggesting an esophageal obstruction in dogs:

  • Retching
  • Drooling
  • Regurgitation (for more on this, read about vomiting versus regurgitation)
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Persistent gulping
  • Previously, we have written about the risks of feeding a dog ahead of having a general anesthetic. One of very real dangers is that the dog vomits and inhales stomach acid down into the lungs, causing a form of pneumonia.

    My caseload this week included a little dog with just such an aspiration pneumonia … but for a different reason.

    In short, Phoebe lost her mojo, stopped eating, lost weight and had an unpleasant hacking cough.

    This little dog, Phoebe, hadn’t had an anesthetic but did have breathing and swallowing difficulties. This combination meant she had accidentally inhaled food while eating, which had resulted in a case of aspiration pneumonia.

    Unfortunately, the larynx — the structure designed to protect the entrance to her airway — wasn’t working properly. This made for a bad combination of circumstances that ended with serious pneumonia.

    Causes of Aspiration Pneumonia in Dogs

    In the majority of cases, pneumonia is caused by a bacterial infection. Aspiration pneumonia occurs when a dog inhales fluid or other materials into the respiratory tract, leading to inflammation in the airways. Though a dog may inhale foreign material when vomiting, the act of vomiting itself does not directly lead to aspiration pneumonia. The condition only occurs when regurgitated materials are inhaled, which may be made more likely by a variety of reasons, including:

  • Disease, such as laryngeal paralysis or inflammation of the esophagus
  • Deformity, such as a cleft palate
  • General anesthesia
  • Presence of a feeding tube
  • Aspiration pneumonia is easier to prevent than to treat. Most veterinarians will recommend that a dog fasts prior to surgery to minimize the risk of regurgitation during anesthesia. When administrating oral medication, make sure that the medicine is given only at the speed that your dog can swallow to prevent inhalation into the respiratory tract. Young puppies, as well as dogs that are fed with a feeding tube, are at higher risk of developing the condition.


    What happens if a dog aspirated food?

    Symptoms of aspiration pneumonia include breathing difficulties, swallowing difficulties, coughing, fever, discharge from the nasal passages, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, a bluish tinge to the skin (cyanosis), and a possible intolerance to exercise due to weakness.

    How do you know if your dog aspirated?

    Aspiration pneumonia is a lung infection that can develop if your pet inhales foreign material, such as food, liquid, or stomach contents. Foreign material that contacts the delicate tissue lining the lung’s airways causes inflammation, and the lungs become susceptible to infection.

    How do you clear a dog’s throat blockage?

    Symptoms of Aspiration Pneumonia in Dogs

    Difficulty breathing. Tachypnea, or rapid breathing. Rapid heart rate. Wheezing or coughing.