Small Animal Internal Medicine

Research Abstract

R04 - Aerodigestive Disorders Identified in Dogs Evaluated for Cough Using Videofluoroscopic Swallow Studies

Friday, June 15
8:45 AM - 9:00 AM
Location: WSCC 615

Aerodigestive diseases may occur without obvious esophageal/gastrointestinal signs. Though well characterized in humans, these are under-diagnosed in dogs due to poor clinical recognition and diagnostic limitations.  The study objective was to evaluate dogs presenting for the primary clinical complaint of cough by videofluoroscopic swallow study (VFSS).


Dogs with a primary complaint of cough, thoracic radiographs, and a VFSS presenting to the University of Missouri between 8/2015-12/2017 were included retrospectively. Exclusion criteria included cough of cardiac origin or esophageal/gastrointestinal signs (regurgitation, vomiting, belching) within the preceding 6 months. Abnormalities on VFSS were categorized as gastroesophageal reflux (GER), hiatal hernia, dysmotility and aspiration.  


Thirty-two cases met inclusion criteria. Median(IQR) age was 6(18.1) years with no identified breed or sex predisposition. Median(IQR) duration of cough was 4(7.25) months. Thoracic radiographs were unremarkable in 10/32 dogs, with evidence of aspiration pneumonia in 4/32. Abnormalities on VFSS were detected in 30/32 dogs. Abnormalities included GER in 13/30 dogs with large volume GER in 5/6 dogs later diagnosed with laryngeal paralysis and 3/3 dogs diagnosed via VFSS with sliding hiatal hernia. Pharyngeal and/or esophageal hypomotility were each found in 7/30 dogs. Megaesophagus was noted in 4/30 dogs.  Macroaspiration was identified in 4/30 dogs.  Final respiratory diagnoses for dogs with abnormal VFSS included chronic bronchitis (9), laryngeal paralysis (6), and laryngeal polyp (1); in 14 dogs, the primary cause of cough was not of respiratory origin. 


Canine aerodigestive disorders can occur without obvious signs of esophageal/gastrointestinal disease. VFSS is a useful adjunctive diagnostic in dogs with cough. 

Megan Grobman, MS, DACVIM (SAIM)

Post doctoral fellow
University of Missouri

Graduate of the University of Washington (BS) and Washington State University (DVM), Megan completed specialty training and a masters degree at the University of Missouri. She joined the MU faculty in 2016. Her research interestes include respiratory medicine, dysphagia/swallowing dissorders and respiratory biometrics.

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