Signs and Symptoms
The inability to swallow, for whatever reason is called dysphagia. There are many different causes, some minor, some severe. Some can be treated and some cannot. As with any illness, the sooner the difficulty is recognized and treatment has begun, the better the chances of a positive outcome.
If a cat has dysphagia for a long period of time chances are the cat will start to show Cat Loss of Weight. Considering the many causes of dysphagia, it is important to consult with your veterinarian as soon as the malady is recognized. With prompt diagnosis of the underlying cause treatment will be more effective.
Causes of Dysphagia
• Trauma to the mouth or surrounding tissue including the tongue and jaw
• Nerve damage to the head will damage the cranial nerves. This can be caused by trauma or disease.
• Foreign objects lodged in the wind pipe(pharynx) or in the mouth
• Any inflammation of the gums, mouth, tongue or pharynx.
• The presence of airway disease that may affect the throat.
• Cysts in the mouth.
• The cats’ inability to move food to the front of the mouth from the back.
• Any paralysis caused by underlying toxins such as botulism or rabies.
Observe Your Cat and Note These Changes:
• Some Cat Drooling, especially with the presence of blood.
• Noticing that the cat deposits all of its food on one particular side of its mouth or drops any food that it takes in.
• Cat Coughs
• Cat Vomiting of undigested food
• Repeatedly attempting to swallow with no success.
• Note closely any change in appetite
• Be aware of weight loss.
• General weakness and Cat Lethargy can occur due to the lack of nutrition or the underlying cause of the dysphagia.
• There may be an unpleasant odor in the mouth or some nasal drainage.
Tests to Diagnose Dysphagia
It will be necessary to sedate your cat and do a complete examination of the mouth. This will be followed by blood tests and possible x-rays of the head, neck and chest. If these do not uncover the cause it may be necessary to perform an ultrasound examination of the neck and throat. By ruling out thyroid issues or other metabolic or hormonal issues with blood screening, a veterinarian can draw the conclusion as to the cause of the malady.
Treatment of Dysphagia
The treatment of dysphagia is varied and often extreme, depending on the cause. If it is due to fractures of the mouth, neck, or skull, it is possible that there will have to be surgery to correct it. The palate may also have to have reconstruction if the damage is found to be there.
Most important is maintaining good nutrition during recovery. Sometimes something as simple as a change in food can solve the problem. At other times, a tube may have to be placed into the stomach or possibly nutrition via intravenous injections. All of this will be determined by the cause of the dysphagia.