Eating food should be a pretty much effortless activity and for many dogs it's the perk of the day, therefore witnessing a dog whining in pain after eating is something that should be investigated by a veterinarian. Left untreated, a dog may over the long run start associating the act of eating with pain and, despite having a ravenous appetite may become reluctant to eat which results in weight loss. There are several possible disorders that can cause a dog to be uncomfortable after eating and they are categorized as post-ingestion distress.
Signs of Trouble
The behavior of whining in pain after eating should be differentiated from a dog who is whining in pain while eating, which can be indicative of a mouth, dental disorder or neck pain.
A dog whining in pain after eating typically shows signs of discomfort within seconds or minutes after eating.
Often differentiating the two can be difficult due to the similarities. It's not a bad idea to record the behavior and show the recording to the vet so the he or she can observe the behavior first hand.
Signs suggesting a dog is uncomfortable after eating include whining, extension of the neck, frequent swallowing attempts, swallowing with the head maintained in an abnormal position, throwing the head back when swallowing, and sometimes drooling and regurgitation may be present. Regurgitation is the passive expulsion of food from the mouth usually before it has a chance to reach the stomach.
List of Possible Causes
Whining after eating is often a symptom of a dog having trouble swallowing, a problem that is medically known as "dysphagia." The causes of pain after eating in dogs can vary from local problems to severe illnesses. It's important to see the vet to confirm or rule out these potential causes.
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A dog in pain after eating with a history of recently eating foreign items or a bone, may have pieces of bone stuck or other particles stuck in the throat and this may cause the painful passage of food. Usually, this a cause for the sudden (acute) onset of trouble swallowing in dogs. This is something that warrants an immediate veterinarian visit.
When the pain seems to occur while or after swallowing, this can be indicative of problems with the dog's esophagus. It may happen that dog swallows a piece of dry food which ends up scraping the esophagus or getting stuck, leading to an esophageal burn which can feel like heartburn in people, explains veterinarian Dr. Kara.
Other problems affecting the dog's esophagus include presence of an abscess, an esophageal laceration or ulceration or a dog esophageal stricture. In young puppies, the issue may be caused by a vascular ring anomaly, a congenital heart defect that causes the dog's esophagus to become compressed. Other problems may involve the pharynx and the upper digestive tract. Pharyngeal dysphagia is particularly common in older dogs.
At the Vet's Office
The veterinarian will likely thoroughly inspect the dog's mouth teeth, throat area and regional lymph nodes to check for any abnormal swellings that may interfere with a dog's ability to swallow foods. The vet may also inspect the dog's neck area to check for signs of pain.
X-rays may help search for evidence of any foreign items or masses. A barium swallow or barium esophagram can further help visualize the anatomy of the esophagus. If the vet suspects problems with the pharynx, ultrasound of the pharynx or a pharyngoscopy, where the dog's throat is evaluated with an endoscope are some other tests that may be carried out.
Soft foods like meat-based baby food with no garlic or onion may be recommended for temporary relief and supportive care may be instituted as the underlying issue is resolved. If the veterinarian suspects a stomach issue he or she may prescribe anti-acids or if there is an infection, a course of antibiotics may be prescribed.
Treatment varies based on the vet's findings and may range from prescription medications to surgical intervention to remove lodged foreign bodies, cysts or masses or to correct other abnormalities.