Esophageal foreign bodies in dogs: 34 cases (2004–2009)


  • Holly C. Thompson DVM,

  • Yonaira Cortes DVM, DACVECC,

  • Kristi Gannon DVM, DACVECC,

    Corresponding author
    • From the Oradell Animal Hospital, Paramus, NJ
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  • Dennis Bailey DVM, DACVIM,

  • Sean Freer DVM, DACVR

  • The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to

Dr. Kristi Gannon, Oradell Animal Hospital, 580 Winters Ave, Paramus, NJ 07652, USA.




To characterize the clinical and radiographic signs, endoscopic findings, treatment, and outcome for dogs that present with esophageal foreign bodies (EFBs), and to identify factors associated with the severity of secondary esophagitis and length of hospitalization (LOH).


Retrospective case series.


Private referral veterinary center.


Client-owned dogs.




Medical records for 34 client-owned dogs with EFBs that had esophageal radiographs and that had undergone esophagoscopy were evaluated retrospectively. Information regarding clinical history, radiographic signs, findings at esophagoscopy, and outcome were recorded.


The most common EFBs were bone (29.7%) and rawhides (29.7%). The median duration of clinical signs prior to initial presentation was 2.75 hours. Radiographically, EFBs were identified definitively in 30 dogs and questionably in 1. The most common location was in the caudal esophagus (59.3%). Esophagitis was not identified in 6 dogs; and was assessed as mild in 14, moderate in 9, and severe in 4. In 1 dog the degree of esophagitis could not be determined due to the presence of contrast agent. Dogs with longer duration of clinical signs and longer anesthesia times were more likely to have moderate or severe esophagitis. Median LOH was 19 hours. Dogs with longer duration of clinical signs, EFBs located in the caudal esophagus, and moderate or severe esophagitis had longer hospital stays. No dogs experienced long-term complications. Complication rate was 82.5% with 8 patients having more than 1 complication.


While long-term prognosis is excellent, early intervention helps reduce short-term esophagitis and LOH.