Megaesophagus and GERD

Megaesophagus and GERD in Bulldogs

Megaesophagus in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs is a medical disorder characterized by an abnormal large distend pocket like esophagus

Bulldog gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)  is consistent with stomach acid upstream flow from the stomach to the esophagus often due to defective gastric sphincter

Megaesophagus in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs CAUSE:

Megaesophagus in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs is most commonly due to inflammation of the esophagus (esophagitis)


In bulldog and Fr bulldogs, the primary cause of megaesophagus is acid reflux due to brachycephalic airway syndrome, of which the primer contributors are:

  • Elongated Soft Palate
  • Stenotic Nares

The stomach acids are extremely irritating to the esophagus lining resulting in a painful inflammatory condition called esophagitis.

This abnormal distended esophageal pocket collects the recent meal and in doing so prevents it from reaching its normal destination, your bulldog stomach. This food is often “hacked up” whole as undigested food medically described as regurgitation.

In other dog breed the cause is often unknown, there are several different potential disease processes in dogs and cats that may lead to it such as:

  • Esophageal obstructions due to a foreign body
  • Esophageal obstructions due to stricture or mass
  • Neuromuscular diseases
  • Infectious diseases
  • Immune system abnormalities
  • Hormonal disorders, and toxins
  • Diaphragmatic Hernia
  • Esophageal and gastric Sphincter problems

Megaesophagus in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs PRESENTATION:

  • REGURGITATION: undigested whole food (in contrast to vomit that is consistent with digested food)
  • COUGH: mostly due to the aspiration of acid and food to the lungs

Megaesophagus in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs ASPIRATION:

In brachycephalic breeds like the French bulldog, and English Bulldogs, this regurgitated whole undigested food often ends up slipping down the wrong pipe (Trachea) and landing in your bulldog lungs. That inhaled material triggers inflammation and often infection of the lower airway known by the medical term “Aspiration Pneumonia”.

Bulldogs suffering from aspiration pneumonia can become critically ill

Megaesophagus in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs DIAGNOSIS:

There are many tests that should be considered but the most important ones in bulldogs and French bulldogs are:


Evaluation of the soft palate and larynx is critical in the case of bulldog megaesophagus since its the leading cause of this condition.


Chest and abdominal x-rays including barium contrast swallowing

Megaesophagus in Bulldogs and French PREVENTION & TREATMENT:

Managing the megaesophagus in bulldog and French bulldogs puppies requires multiple steps

Bulldog GERD & Megaesophagus DIETS:

Try feeding smaller meals in a gruel consistency.

Bulldog GERD & Megaesophagus UPRIGHT FEEDING:

The feeding should be done in an elevated position using gravity to move the meal downward toward the stomach, at the time a customer chair that set your bulldog in an upright position is required

Bulldog Megaesophagus & PALATE & NARES REPAIR:

Bulldog Elongated Palate or/and Bulldog Stenotic Nares are some of the most common reasons for megaesophagus in bulldogs and French bulldogs, thus they should be repaired by an experienced bulldog surgeon as soon as possible.

Bulldog GERD & Megaesophagus RX:

Various Rx might be required to help reduce vomiting, acidity, and gastric reflux

  • Antiemetics: Reglan, Cernia
  • Anti Acid/Reflux: Pepsid, Omperazol
  • Other: Vigra (esophageal sphincter), Cisapride.


For chronic vomiting and or/and for bulldogs on RX  consider supplementing with:


Dr. Kraemer’s V4B Bully Probiotics Bundle helps balance the gut microbiome.

Dr. Kraemer’s Megaesophagus in Bulldogs RULE OF THUMB:

Bulldogs and French bulldogs puppies are rarely born with a Megaesophagus, the majority of megaesophagus in bulldogs and French bulldogs are acquired mostly due to esophagitis which is the inflammation of the esophageal mucosa lining.

Megaesophgus & GERD (gastroesophageal reflux due to chronic gastric reflux disease) is mostly due to bulldog brachycephalic airway syndrome.

Megaesophagus in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs TIPS & WARNINGS 

Bulldog Megaesophagus & GERD Dr. Kraemer’s TIPS:

Bulldog Megaesophagus WHOLE VS DIGESTED FOOD:

The content expelled after regurgitation due to bulldog megaesophagus is usually whole (i.e. undigested) and is expelled soon after your dog ate. In contrast, vomiting is unwhole and usually is usually partially or fully digested, it is often also mixed with yellow bile.

Bulldog Megaesophagus CONTRAST RADIOGRAPHS:

Chest and Abdominal radiographs combined with barium dye contrast material are recommended when attempting to diagnose Megaesophagus in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs,

Bulldog GERD and Megaesophagus UPRIGHT FEEDING:

For serious cases of bulldog megaesophagus, I recommend a special chair that forces your bulldog puppy to eat in an upright near-vertical position. Try to keep your bulldog puppy at that elevated position for an additional 10 min after feeding (see our “Kelly Chair” Video)

Megaesophagus in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs radiographs

Bulldog Megaesophagus FOOD CONSISTENCY:

For Megaesophagus in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs, I recommend a blend prescription smooth watered-down gruel puree-like diet.

Bulldog GERD and Megaesophagus RX:

you can also add a daily promotility medication such as anti-vomit and anti-reflux / anti-acid medication

Bulldog Megaesophagus & GERD Dr. Kraemer’s WARNINGS:

Bulldog GERD and Megaesophagus PNEUMONIA WARNING:

Due to their undeveloped immune systems bulldog and French bulldog, puppies are especially vulnerable to a life-threatening compilation from aspiration pneumonia Bulldog aspiration pneumonia due to megaesophagus should be treated aggressively with antibiotics.

All bulldog aspiration pneumonia should be considered serious and potentially life-threatening.

Bulldog GERD and Megaesophagus BOAS:

Bulldogs and French Bulldog puppies suffering from Brachycephalic syndrome, like the elongated palate, stenotic nares, and hypoplastic trachea are at a higher risk of incurring megaesophagus

Bulldog GERD and Megaesophagus BLENDED FOOD 

large dry lumpy food is more likely to get trapped in the dilated pocket of the megaesophagus, the food should be smooth and have an even consistency. You can blend it in a food processor or soak it in water.

“An Ounce of PREVENTION is Worth a Pound of CURE”

Megaesophagus in Bulldogs and French Bulldogs puppies PREVENTION IS CURE

*This guide was compiled courtesy of Dr. Kraemer, a “must-read” manual for any current or future bully owners