Skip to comments.Does anyone know how to treat "mega esophagous" in a dog?
Posted on 12/17/2010 1:41:58 PM PST by afraidfortherepublic
My daughter's 11 month old Red Standard Poodle has been diagnosed with "mega esophagous" which means that his esophagous is nearly twice as large as it ought to be, and the food has a hard time making into the stomach and just sits in the esophagous. He regurgitates much of his dinner daily.
This is a worrisome, messy, smelly condition, but not fatal. Her vet says she should learn to manage it by keeping him calm & upright for a half hour after he eats and offering smaller meals. Obviously he's getting some nutrition because he's 49 lbs, although he's on the small side of the standard scale.
Has anyone on the Doggie Ping list had any experience of managing such a disability and any tips to offer?
Joe — please activate your ping list. Thanks
In all seriousness, I’d have the dog put down and get another one. It is one thing to deal with a human with a health condition - they (we) are created in the image of God and are valued accordingly. A dog is an animal that, frankly, should not cause that much overhead. The good news is that the dog is only 11 months old. This would be much harder after a couple of years.
Wrong Joe, but I got it!
Well, you could offer more of a liquified diet so it travels down more easily.
FReeper assistance needed...help/advice greatly appreciated.
The only thing might be a lifetime of software food and walking the dog after meals. You may also want to talk to a vet who is a surgeon.
Here’s a link to a support group. It’s always good to have feedback from folks who’ve dealt with the problem.
One tip. If you elevate the dog’s food and water bowls it will help him swallow as the food has a more direct route “down the hatch”.
I meant to add, if possible the dog could be held and burped like a baby. That might help the movement as well.
This link looked pretty informative:
1) Feed (and water) your dog vertically. This means the spine should be straight up and down, with the dog seated in the beg position every time the dog receives anything by mouth (food, water, medication, treats). Feeding your dog elevated is not enough because the esophagus is still at an angle and food can still accumulate in pouches and pockets. There are a variety of ways to feed vertically. There is a specially designed chair called the Bailey Chair, which you can build for your dog. This is highly recommended and with the proper fit assures your dog is correctly positioned and supported (see the attached pictures and the link at the end of this document).
Get his dish off the floor, so his throat is at least level with his mouth. Food travelling sideways would appear to be alot easier than having to go up his neck, before sliding into the stomach.
She recently lost her 17 year old Black Standard Poodle to "bloat". That was hard enough. She's only had this red standard for 2 months. She was so devastated after the loss of the black poodle that she rushed into an adoption and the breeders were not forthright about the dog's problems. They said only that the dog was being eliminated from their breeding/show program because of an undescended testicle. But, she loves this dog and is willing to work with him.
The prognosis does seem daunting, however. Here is a web page I found. Canine megaesophagous
I don’t know if it would work with dogs but we have a horse with similar problem. He is not fed off the ground, he has an elevated feeder and he gets no dry food, no hay at all. His food is a complete pelleted feed that is soaked between feedings. It has allowed us to keep him healthy and happy and useable for 14 years.
She has always elevated the dog’s food, but the dishes they sell are not enough. The dog practically has to be in the “sit/beg” position to do any good. And her vet recommended that the dog remain in that upright position for 1/2 hour AFTER ever meal. Those Bailey chairs look pretty good (see some of the links on this page). I might order one of those for Christmas for her.
What do you think about this?
Thanks, Joe. Just as I hit “post” I remembered that your screen name uses 6, not Six. But, it went through, so I figured it’d be OK.
Thanks, vetvetdoug. Is it a hopeful article?
Noting the date of this article leads me to wonder about whether this diagnosis was “suggested” to her vet by the journal, since my daughter and the vet have been working with this dog since the end of October.
But, I think the diagnosis is accurate. It was confirmed by a barium X-ray on Monday.
Right now she is feeding him on a step ladder where he has to put his paws on the first step and reach up to his dish tied on the top step.
I’ll look for the article and forward it to my daughter.
I’m not sure if this would help but I did read that carbs are good for this condition...so
I have dogs with eatwhateverwefind syndrome and they pick the craziest times to get sick on me (usually when I’m sleeping good).
They get mild blockages that leaves them ralphing. I feed them warm mashed potatoes or canned pumpkin (if I have it on hand).
The potatoes work really well, especially when they’re not really wanting to eat— they love them. Anyhow, they usually stop puking pdq and finally pass whatever.
It’s not the same problem but just maybe it could help?
Respectfully, my basset hounds are as loved as if I gave birth to them myself. They both have had surgeries that easily cost in the thousands of dollars, MRIs, tests and multiple office visits and worth every single penney.
Right now, I am making them brown rice to go with the simmered chicken breast I will shred and serve with broth over rice on top of Blue Buffalo Basic Turkey and Potato dog food as one is having digestive issues.
We don’t have children. I miss that everytime I hear from friends who have had to bail out their kids in the middle of the night, pay for rehab, save their entire lives to pay for college only to have them drop out and shack up with some jobless loser who knocks them up or beats them up or both. When honey and I met 10 years ago, he told me that he wasn’t interested in having children but could understand if I wanted to seek out someone else who could give me children if that was what I wanted. He then said that if I chose him, he would give me everything I could ever want or need and have as many animals as I wanted.
He had me at, “I...”.
But, that being said, I do understand what you are saying. It could be expensive and what will the dog’s quality of life be. Once the quality of life is compromised, everything is off the table. But, if the dog is not in pain and she doesn’t mind the extra care, why rush to euthanize the dog?
Seriously though, give me a furry couch potato whose only request is a belly rub over a crazed liberal shopper any day. Or give me one of my dogs.
While my dog was laying down, we put out a piece of beef in front of her. When the mega esophagous slowing crawled out of her mouth towards the beef, we grabbed it and killed it.
in humans, you dilate the blockage on a regular basis.
Presumably they can do that with a dog...if you want to pay for it. Probably will have to be done at a bigger animal hospital because few ordinary vets will have gastroscopes equipped to do it.
For example, megaesophagus can sometimes be secondary to a congenital condition called Persistant Right Aortic Arch (PRAA). A blood vessel which normally would disappear in the womb forms a stricture point over the esophagus leaving only a tiny hole for food to pass. This causes the animal to vomit up any solid food. The onset of regurgitating food therefore is usally not noticed until the pup begins eating solid food after weening. Since PRAA is sometimes the true cause of the megaesophagus, it's very important that a capable vet conducts an endoscopy.
I write software for a vet who happens to be a specialist in internal medicine. Coincidentally, I also own a cat who suffers from PRAA, which can often lead to megaesophagus. For what it's worth, my cat has lived for over five years on a diet of blended wet cat food. My vet has another patient whose dog has lived nearly 15 years on a similarly blended diet.
Bottom line: See a specialist immediately
That link has excellent suggestions. Thanks. I’ll pass it on.
Don’t quit your day job.
Very interesting. My daughter’s vet had a ferret with this condition.
>>Respectfully, my basset hounds are as loved as if I gave birth to them myself. They both have had surgeries that easily cost in the thousands of dollars, MRIs, tests and multiple office visits and worth every single penney.<<
Hey, if you have the money and time, that’s great!
I’m very attached to our two year old maltipoo. I have to be. My wife is out of town a lot. He is very well trained and makes eye contact with me so much it is as if he knows what I am thinking. It can be downright spooky.
That said, if she were to die tomorrow, I’d get rid of the dog almost immediately. It’s a T-chart thing: reasons to keep him don’t even come close to the number of reasons to not have a dog.
You’ve heard the phrase, regarding movies, “suspending disbelief”? Well, that is what I can’t do with animals. No matter how human they appear to act, I see them as a poor facsimile. I cannot “suspend disbelief” that their reactions are not genuinely human. But that’s just me, and I know many do give them human qualities on an emotional level.
But if I had a “puppy” with the enlarged esophagus problem and all the special treatment (and hard earned money) that is going to involve throughout his life, the choice is pretty simple and obvious. And the longer you wait, the harder the decision. If the dog belonged to one of my children, I would use it as a teaching experience to help them understand the difference in value between humans and animals. It was done for me when I was a child and it has helped enormously.
BTW, we’re empty nesters. My wife wanted the dog as something to “nurture”. If I gave him away, I’d feel bad, for a while, but the benefits would last and last.
Thanks. Good advice. I don’t know the background, or specialty, of her vet. She’s a new one to the family since my daughter was not too pleased with the lack of care her previous poodle received at the kennel owned by the previous vet. She knows that nothing could have prevented the bloat that killed her 17 year old dog, but she was not notified when he suddenly started losing weight.
My dog had no problem learning to eat vertically. All I had to do was leave a pizza on the countertop.
Eating vertically is never a problem with dogs. LOL It’s making them stand upright afterwards that is the problem. They fight and struggle and think it’s a game and runaway and urp — especially when they are 11 months old! Thank goodness this is a poodle. They have an easier time sitting up in the begging position. My Golden couldn’t do that. But he’s big enough that he just does whatever he wants anyway. LOL
I have 3 blue heelers and 1 staffy and the only way I could leave food out without them magically levitating high enough to eat it would be to nail it to the ceiling!
Generally speaking, this is not something that one simply fixes with a quick treatment and then all is well. A diligent search on the internet will show many resources for living with pets who suffer from this. Devices to aid in feeding the animals upright, specialized diets, support forums, etc.
In addition to serving small servings of wet food three or four times/day, I would try to find a liquid he will lap up after he eats.
My dog used to love milk and get A LITTLE for a treat sometimes. He lapped it up fast. It’s not the greatest for dogs, but it might be better that your dog move the food down. Another idea would be ice cubes, ice cream or popcicles after meals - whatever he loves and will go after right after a meal to help wash the food down.
Thank you. Your good wishes and prayers are appreciated.
There is a special chair for these dogs that is used when they eat. You can find it on the internet. Please take this dog to the vet. They will most likely have it the rest of their live
You need to feed him in an elevated position like they feed show lambs.
I hope you find the help you need. I am not familiar with this. Good luck.
Thanks for the ping Joe.
Show lambs? I am not familiar with how they feed show lambs. Can you explain further?
I have to agree with you. I love dogs as dogs. Dogs are cool because they are NOT people. Unless I really had the money to spare, I would not spend a lot of money keeping an ill dog alive. But that’s me, I don’t judge people who feel differently harshly.
The more prosperous a society the more money we are able to spend on our pets. Pets are a luxury. If we lived in a third world country or were just very poor we would not give pets such a high priority. The book The Yearling comes to mind.
I wish your daughter and her pup well....it looks like you are getting some great advice.....I know nothing about this problem but a number of years ago I sought advice from FReepers regarding my dog and I decided to go for the surgery for him and he did real well...there are a lot of good people on this site
This is a problem for German Shepherds, and I was concerned long ago that my puppy had this (she did not - but has a host of other issues!).
I don’t know much except to definitely recommend getting a tall dish table/holder so the dog does not have to put his head down to feed. Better to use gravity to help it to the stomach.
Megaesophagus is a problem in that the dog can indeed become malnourished. I don’t think there is anything they can do to truly help or fix it, and only “management” solutions can be tried.
Looks like you got lots of tips from FReepers.
My dog was tested for megaesoph a couple of years ago. Negative for what your daughter’s dog has, but surgery and tests over the course of 2.5 weeks totaled more than $2K, and no definitive diagnosis. The closest they could come up with was high-normal levels leaning toward perhaps atypical Addisons.
Now I feed elevated food & water, but no need for a Bailey chair. My dogs browse feed anyway to help avoid torsion. The dog with the problem, tho, tends to throw herself into all activity with enthusiasm - including feeding & drinking. I have to fuss at her to “take a breather” so she doesn’t regurgitate what she consumed only moments before. Also she isn’t allowed to eat ice any more because one piece triggers a puke session. Winter living is lots easier, less need for her to come running to the water bowl, LOL. I give her a couple of laps at the bowl, then have her step back for a few breaths.
Indeed, there are. I'm going to copy this whole thread and take it to my daughter at Christmas when we are visiting and meeting Rusty for the first time, along with the offer to buy her (or build if my husband is willing) a Bailey Chair. I was amazed to learn that 1 out of 50 puppies born have this problem. I'm not sure if that statistic includes those who develop it later.
My middle Lab - a/k/a "Psycho Ruby" - is a classic candidate for bloat and torsion - high energy, thin, narrow deep chest, ravenous eater. So when we had her spayed (just to add to the fun, she's also EIC Affected so could not ethically breed her) we had the gastropexy (tummy tack) at the same time.
What is EIC affected?
Yeah, what *is* EIC Affected?
I wish I’d thought to get the gastropexy with all of mine. In that vet stay I mentioned in the previous post, the first thing I had the vets do was open her up to check for digestive blockage. I’d already lost one to it, and we all were paranoid about it.
One of those lovely genetic diseases -- found in Labrador Retrievers, Chessies, and Curly-coated Retrievers, as well as in Boykin Spaniels, German Wirehaired Pointers and Pembroke Welsh Corgis.
More than you want to know here, including a video that will curl your hair. The dog in the video has the worst case of EIC I've ever seen - my Ruby is nothing like that, it takes a lot to trigger an episode.
Reader's Digest condensed version: Affected dogs have two copies of a gene that disrupts the chemical essential to transmitting nerve impulses along the spine. 10-20 minutes of hard exercise combined with intense emotional excitement and hot weather will cause the dog to lose control of his hindquarters - just as though he was paralyzed. When Ruby went down the first time, I thought she had stepped in a hole and broken her back.
As many as half of all Labs are carriers, but carriers show no symptoms. The gene was only isolated and a test developed about two years ago. The current plan is to alter all Affected dogs, and not breed a carrier to a carrier, but given the large number of carriers there's not going to be any way to completely eliminate the gene.
Also, just like with sickle cell anemia, one copy of the gene seems to confer some advantages, at least from a field trial/hunting point of view -- high drive and retrieving ability, for example. My Katy is a carrier, and she has tremendous (but controllable) drive. Ruby's drive is extreme and to some extent uncontrollable . . . at least not by me.
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