Thursday, April 10, 2014

Fun Winter!

This winter we did a lot of outside activities like playing fetch in the snow and playing lots of ice hockey with Sidney and Butters.  While Sidney had a few regurgitation periods, nothing out of the ordinary really.  Sidney will turn 5 years old this September. 



Our upright feeding routine and meds has worked wonders for Sidney for over 4 and a half years and counting. We were curious how playing and exercising so much more with the addition of Butters to the family could throw off the schedule.  But it hasn't.  In fact, Butters knows that Sidney's feeding time in the Bailey Chair is his time.  She doesn't bother him until he's done.

We haven't changed Sidney's routine for quite some time and will ride it out until we need to tweak it, if at all.  In the meantime, we will just treat both dogs the same, because realistically, the only difference is that Sidney eats vertically in a chair for 1 hour a day, the other 23 hours are just normal.  Sure he doesn't get treats or water from a bowl, but that doesn't seem to really matter.  What maters is that Sidney is living a normal life with his sister Butters.  Life is good!
video

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Happy 4th Birthday Sidney!

Sidney turns 4 years old today.  MegaE is NOT A DEATH SENTENCE!!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Our Megaesophagus Feeding Routine with a 2 Dog Household

Butters is 7 months old now and we've worked out our feeding schedule for both dogs.  The one thing that I think we may be extremely lucky about is that Sidney has been eating Knox Blox for so long (his whole life) in place of water, that if we leave a bowl of water down for Butters, he will completely ignore it.  Our main concern for introducing a new puppy to the house was keeping her hydrated while everything is on Sidney's schedule.

Also, we crate Butters and we give her a frozen puppy Kong™ with peanut butter when she goes in the crate.  So Sidney didn't feel left out, we put a small smear of honey inside a frozen Kong™ for him as well.  There isn't anything really to eat - just taste.  Some dogs can't even do this with MegaE, we are lucky it works with Sidney.


MORNING MEDICINE: 5mg Bethanechol and about 5 Knox Blox - sit time is 10 minutes.

We feed Butters in the morning while Sidney is in his Bailey Chair for his morning 5mg Bethanechol medicine and Knox Blox.  Butters eats REALLY fast, so Sidney will have no chance to eat leftovers!

MORNING FEEDING: 1 cup of Eukanuba Large Breed Dog Food soaked in 2 cups of water and blended with 5 Knox Blox- sit time 30 minutes.

Then - we feed Sidney his blended food 30 minutes after that and then he sits in his Bailey Chair for another 30 minutes.   Butters usually waits for Sidney to get done and lays by him.


LUNCH FEEDING: Sidney gets about 10 Knox Blox - equivalent to about 1 cup of water - sit time 10 minutes.

At lunch, Sidney gets in his chair for Knox Blox and Butters gets her water refilled.  Sidney sits in his Bailey Chair for about 10 minutes.


EVENING MEDICINE: 5mg Bethanechol and 2 Prilosec OTC pills - served to him hidden in Knox Blox. He ends up getting 5-10 Knox Blox - sit time 10 minutes.  

We changed our routine for Prilosec OTC - we give it to him separate from his food now.  We used to put it in his evening meal, but he was still kind of drooly and seemed uncomfortable - so we changed and give it to him when we give him his evening Bethanechol.  It seems to have worked.  We feed Butters her second cup of food while Sidney is in his Bailey Chair, same as the morning medicine routine.

EVENING FEEDING: 1 cup of Eukanuba Large Breed Dog Food soaked in 2 cups of water and blended with 5 Knox Blox - sit time 30 minutes.

Sidney gets his last meal of the day 30 minutes after the Prilosec OTC and the BethanecholButters is done eating already.  She only eats 2 cups a day just like Sidney does now.

This is our schedule - fairly routine and seems quite effective for us.  Both dogs are doing well - so we will keep at it like this unless something needs to change!  Both dogs are at a great weight and look healthy to me!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Portable Bailey Chair for Travel









Above is the bag that holds everything Sidney needs to travel - and if you can believe it - there is an entire Bailey Chair in there as well.  The other pictures show it in various stages of being assembled and Sidney is modeling it on our boat in the top photo.

If you want the plans - email me at ryanpluta@yahoo.com - I put them into a word document with photos and instructions.  If I could figure out how to make them downloadable from here I would do that.  But for now - just shoot me an email.

I also loaded the plans into the files section of the Facebook Canine Megaesophagus Support Group Page (click the link below):

Sidney's Portable Bailey Chair Instructions Word Document

Whether we go on vacation and family and friends watch Sidney or travel where we we take him with us, we need an easy way to transport Sidney and his Bailey Chair.  So we created a Portable Bailey Chair.  We've traveled before for weekends and to move all of Sid's stuff is a huge hassle. The main Bailey Chair is heavy, huge and cumbersome. Then to put all of his meds, food, toys, blender, etc in the car to travel takes like 5 trips.

I made him a Portable Bailey Chair, which is a huge convenience. It basically slides into place and is held together with a few dowel rods and grooves. It breaks down and is constructed very fast - like about 20 seconds. You can see in a photo above the broken down Portable Bailey Chair stacked in a pile.  I bought an Eddie Bauer lightweight roller-travel bag from Target that holds his Portable Bailey Chair, food, Bethanechol and Prilosec, Magic Bullet (that we blend his food with), feeding bowl, bottle of honey (his treat), towels, blankets, toys and his schedule instructions.  It has a botom ziper compartment that holds the Portable Bailey Chair, so everything fits in one duffel bag with wheels and a handle too!! HUGE difference. Now taking Sid away or having people watch him is much less of a hassle than it was before!!

Problem solved!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Meet Butters!


So we are finally ready to get Sidney a baby sister.  Sidney is now 3 1/2 years old and still loves to play like a puppy.  Meet Butters, our new 9 week old Yellow Lab.

We wanted to get a puppy so that we could train her to live on Sidney's routine. We wondered how to manage a MegaE dog and non-MegaE dog feeding routines.  Basically, we feed Butters when Sidney is in his chair and Butters has already figured out that Sidney's blender noise is her feeding time too.  So this is working out so far. We brought Sidney along with us when we picked out Butters.  We wanted to make sure they got along. Butters was the first puppy to show interest in Sidney.  So she won!
              
Sidney and Butters play really good together.  Sidney is impressively tolerant with Butters and it seems that he is helping us raise her and take out some of her puppy energy, while using up some of his own!  It is so much fun watching them play.  Plus, Butters plays with all the million toys we bought for Sidney that he chose to ignore! We try and be mindful of Sidney when giving treats to Butters for her puppy obedience and house training.
We use the Lickety-Stick for Sidney and Butters gets the training treats.

One main thing for us is making sure Butters doesn't drop any food that Sidney can eat - or us forgetting to pick up Butters' food and water bowl when we let Sidney out of his Bailey Chair.  

With Butters, we are trying to make sure she gets enough water - the food part is easy - she eats her food up fast.  We will give Butters water when Sidney isn't in his chair - we just keep an eye out to make sure Sidney doesn't try and get some for himself.  He is usually pretty good about not doing that.  He is more used to the Bailey Chair and Knox Blox. We're happy to have Butters as part of the family and Sidney is happy to have a sister to play with every day.  Plus, Butters likes to hang out with Sidney when she is done eating while Sidney is still in his Bailey Chair.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Sidney Honored with the Ceremonial Puck Drop!

The Lake Erie Monsters Hockey Club (The AHL affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche) had their annual Pucks and Paws hockey game vs. Rochester on March 3rd at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, OH.  This is where you are able to attend the hockey game with your pet.  An assemblage of 8,136 humans and 500 dogs attended.  Pretty cool - we also went last year.

They offered to let us drop the Ceremonial First Puck at the game (which is fitting since Sidney is named after a hockey player), honoring Sidney and his success at living for over 3 1/2 years with Congenital Megaesophagus and surviving long past the month he was given to live way back when he was only 10 weeks old.
The PA announcer did a really nice introduction and story on Sidney, his Megaesophagus condition and how we were able to manage it and give Sidney a great life and what a big hockey fan he is.  It's nice to let people know that MegaE is not a death sentence and the crowd gave us all a great round of applause.  Which was really cool.

I like to think we were there representing all of us who are managing this condition with our special MegaE friends.  We all put in the time and effort to give our dogs a great life.  Our story is just one of many.  But I can say this - Sidney has led a way more interesting life than he would have if he wasn't born with MegaE.  Pretty sure he wouldn't have been on the ice in front of a large crowd dropping the puck at a hockey game!  He's just taking us along for the ride!

Thanks again to everyone at the Lake Erie Monsters organization for this great honor!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Excessive Drooling

For the past month or so, Sidney seems to start drooling a lot when he isn't feeling well.  Well, it has been happening longer than a month - but this month seems like it is more constant.  He will sit up as straight as he can because it might make him feel better like his Bailey Chair does with his food.  But it's one of those things where we don't know really what else to do.  We will put him in his chair for a while - but that doesn't seem to do much.  I think he may just need to regurgitate to get out whatever is making him feel uncomfortable.  But I really can't force that to happen.  And don't want to.

Basically we just sit with him and pet him while he is sitting up and drooling and wipe his mouth.  These episodes pass - but I really hope they go away.  He doesn't seem like he is in pain or anything.  He just seems uncomfortable, like indigestion.  I am guessing something is stuck in a pocket in his esophagus that causes him to feel like this and drool excessively.  Poor guy.  For now we will just do what we can to make him feel better and loved.  Because that's all we can do when this happens.

Well, to be safe I took him to the vet.  They checked him out and did X-Rays, etc.  Basically he is fine - nothing like Aspiration Pneumonia or something stuck in his esophagus.  It could be he has more acid reflux than normal getting out of his stomach and into his esophagus - making him uncomfortable.  The Vet looked up to see his maximum Prilosec (omeprozale) dosage.  We can increase it for a dog Sid's size and weight to 40mg (which is 2 pills at night instead of one).  We will give this a try and hopefully it helps!  I know some people use a Pro-Collar to try and keep their dog's head elevated which he sleeps.  We tried this for a while and ended up having to buy a few because Sid chewed them up - he just doesn't like wearing them.  We'll see if he will need to get used to it at night again this time - but we will wait and see if it comes to that.

UPDATE 2/13/13 - It seems like the 40mg of Prilosec (Target brand omeprozale) has worked - he seems to be much better now.  My only concern is what if he gets used to this dosage and it comes back - this is our maximum dosage.  I may try and decrease him down to 20mg at the end of the month and see if nothing changes, that way when he gets bad like earlier I can up his dosage back to 40mg until the episode passes.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Happy 3rd Birthday Sidney!

Three Years and counting is a lot longer than the One Month he was given to live.  Here's to a lot more birthdays with my best buddy!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Megaesophagus Dogs Can Have Fun Too

I know a lot of people worry that when their dogs are diagnosed with megaesophagus, that they will have to lead a completely sheltered life.  I know that's what I thought in the beginning (aside from thinking he only had a month left to live).  However, I can't think of anything we don't do with Sidney that we wouldn't do if he didn't have this stupid condition (outside of the obvious feeding routine and diet).  Of course we're very careful that he doesn't eat or drink anything without being vertical, but that's it really.  He's still a happy dog that does things happy dogs like to do.  Lots of walks, hikes and trips to the dog park.  So what if he doesn't get treats like most dogs.  I'm fairly certain that he isn't getting teased about it from the other dogs.  The other day we took him to the ballpark for a baseball game. We brought along Knox Blox in a Ziploc bag and just held him up in his seat vertical when we let him get his hydration - yes he had his own seat. 

The day at the baseball game was a lot of fun and everyone had a great time, including Sidney!!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Summer

This summer has been hotter than most - so we have tried to limit the amount of time Sidney spends out in the heat.  Especially since we can't just throw down a bowl of water.  We took him on a hike the other day and even though we gave him a bunch of Knox Blox before and after, he still seemed really tired the rest of the day.  I'm not sure if he was exhausted from the hike or what.  But I know we have been feeding him more Knox Blox than in the winter, which is fine.  He also gets a bit more water in his food as well since we switched over to Adult Dog Food.   That seems to need more water to fully soak up enough to blend into a milkshake consistency.  Lately we've been concerned that his belly seemed like it was betting a bit fat, so we changed the food portions to 1 cup of food in the morning and evening meal, but just 1/2 cup of food for the lunch meal.  So now he gets 2.5 cups of food as opposed to the 3 cups he has always had recently.  That seems to be working fine.

Overall, Sidney has been doing well.  We have had a few regurgitation episodes as usual, but not too many like in the beginning when we received the MegaE diagnosis.  What we get more is Sidney just seeming to feel uncomfortable.  Either his tummy or his esophagus.  We can't tell.  But he still sits up horizontally on his own when that happens.  If you look at the photo - that's kind of how he sits.  Sometimes you can just tell if he isn't feeling too good.  We have no idea why.  Our routine is very consistent.  It just happens.  Plus, I've never had a Lab aside from Sidney.  I assume they get sick sometimes too like all dogs.  So it could just be a dog or Lab thing.  But we always pay special attention to Sidney when he isn't feeling too good to make sure it isn't anything serious.  So far, he's doing just fine!  And he's always happy, even when he's feeling uncomfortable.  He's always demanding belly rubs!!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Transitioning from Puppy Food to Adult Dog Food

Sidney will be 3 years old in September and we are still feeding him the same Eukanuba Large Breed Puppy Food.  It is 1 cup of dry dog food soaked in about 2 cups of water and blended (3 times a day).  We do add a squirt of Salmon Oil to the first two meals as well.  He still sits in his Bailey Chair for 30 minutes after eating.  That amount of time works, so I do not anticipate that changing.

I know you are supposed to change over to Adult Dog Food at around age 1 or 2 (depending on the dog etc.).  However, we have been hesitant to change anything in his diet because we don't want to tempt fate.  As we all know - with Megaesophagus, once you find the right food, routine and consistency - you tend to stick with it.  But I know for Sidney's overall long-term health, I should probably transition him to the Adult Dog Food.  We really don't want to just feed him Puppy Food forever because he has Megaesophagus and ignore the needs of the rest of his needs.  At least that's how we see it.  I assume there is Puppy Formula and Adult Formula for a pretty good reason.  Plus, we thought a breed specific formula would make sense.

So the plan is to start mixing Eukanuba Labrador Retriever Formula with his Eukanuba Large Breed Puppy Formula.  I'm hoping since they are both the same brand, that this will make it easier on his digestion.   The Eukanuba brand has worked great for us - so I will always stick with that.  The Adult Formula Dog Food looks and smells the same (no I didn't taste it).  So we are slowly mixing the food together.  I figure, because we are always cautious with Sid, we will probably keep the mixing transition for a month or more.  We are starting with 90% Puppy Food and 10% Adult Food and will slowly adjust the percentage over time, with the ultimate goal to phase out the Puppy Food and be 100% Adult Dog Food.  So far we have been doing it for a week and it hasn't had any adverse affects or increased regurgitation or anything.

So far so good!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Our "Frosty Paws" Treat Recipe

Since obviously Sidney's diet is about as boring as any dog could have due to his Megaesophagus, we like to try and give him some additional treat options while he is in his Bailey Chair.  There is a product called Frosty Paws, which are frozen dog treats.  Sid loves them, our wallet does not.  So we make our own.  After he eats his meal and his Knox Blox in his Bailey Chair, we let him have some licks of the Frosty Paws treat - especially in the summer.

INGREDIENTS:
32 oz. plain yogurt
1 mashed banana
2 Tablespoons peanut butter
2 Tablespoons honey 

DIRECTIONS:
1. Mix all these ingredients in your blender, then dump into ice cube trays, paper cups, or whatever to freeze and serve.

Fairly simple - he likes to lick it and get the taste.  

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

FINALLY - A Megaesophagus Training Treat for Sidney

Since the day Sidney was diagnosed with MegaE, we knew it would be difficult to find treats for Sidney.  Since he can't eat anything horizontally, what were we going to give him?  We ended up using little licks of honey on our finger.  This has worked well (for Sidney).  For us, especially when we were traveling, we tried carrying little mini-honey bottles around or putting honey in a syringe, etc.  This, as you can imagine, can get pretty sticky and messy.

Well we finally found something called Lickety Stik.  It comes in a container that resembles a roll-on anti-perspirant bottle (with the roller ball on the top).  It has a lid that screws on and off and comes in flavors of Chicken, Liver and Bacon.  So basically, Sidney licks the roller ball on the top and gets the taste of the flavor - but doesn't actually eat or ingest anything - he just gets the taste.  I kind of equate it to the same as when he swallows saliva at any point in the day.  It's not messy for us and is easily portable without getting our hands all sticky too.  It's been almost 3 years until we found this solution.  I cannot explain how much this makes us happy!!  I'm sure it may not work for all dogs - since there are varying degrees of ME - but for us it seems to be a success!

Here is a link if you were curious:
http://www.petsafe.net/products/liquid-dog-treats/lickety-stik

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Regurgitation and Megaesophagus Life


So I got home for lunch to feed Sidney his afternoon meal and was greeted by a few piles of regurgitation. This isn't typical. Usually this doesn't happen while I'm not home for whatever reason. But I think that he may have got himself a little too excited when UPS delivered a package at the front door and they probably rang the doorbell. Lately when he has been regurgitating, it's not really been a whole meal of food, just a partial meal with gross stomach acid type of stuff.

I cleaned up after him and then fed him his afternoon meal with his Knox Blox and everything seemed like it was back to normal. I know we will never eliminate this from happening. But thinking back to when we first received the diagnosis, he regurgitated A LOT (multiple times a day for weeks at a time). So much that we thought it was never going to stop. But we worked out our routine, stayed diligent with his vertical feeding, and made sure to get a medicine that we felt worked for him (Bethanechol). With that, the regurgitation episodes decreased. We had gone through times where he didn't do it for over a month and you forget that it even was an issue. But it's going to happen and I always appreciate when he makes it to the tile instead of the carpet.

It isn't like regurgitation makes him suffer or anything. It happens fast and then that's it. DONE. Sure our floors suffer and paper towel budget is larger than normal, etc. But Sidney is just as good as any normal dog. I'm pretty sure normal dogs eat stuff and throw up too. All part of having a pet. We're lucky to have him!!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Late-Night Regurgitation


This photo is from when Sidney and I attended the Lake Erie Monsters hockey game together. They have a day where they allow dogs in the arena. He behaved very well and it was fun.

So last night Sidney woke me up at about 4am. He was having some regurgitation episodes. He threw up on the couch, the carpet, the kitchen and by the front door. It's been a while since we have had one of these. But it happens. But this morning he wasn't too into having his Knox Blox or his food. Hopefully he just has an irritated esophagus, but if he is still a bit "off" at lunch I'm going to take him in to get checked out in case he has Aspiration Pneumonia just to be safe.

UPDATE: 3/16/12:
Sid started eating again the next day. I gave him Sucralfate and maybe that helped. But he has been regurgitating a bunch this week - sometimes in the middle of the night and sometimes in the afternoon/morning etc. But overall he seems OK. We hit these patches every so often. My carpet is getting dirty, but when this rough patch is over we'll steam clean it. No worries. Just keeping a closer eye on him so we know he doesn't aspirate during this patch.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Evolution of Sidney's Bailey Chair

Since we got Sidney's Megaesophagus diagnosis when he was 10 weeks old, we knew he would hopefully be growing and his Bailey Chair would need to grow with him. So what we did was make the Bailey Chair able to be very large, but adjustable to start out small.
The above photo is the first version. You can see it is kind of a "Bailey Chair made within a Bailey Chair." We left room so that the sides could get wider. We also made the holder for the Paw Bar (on the sides) able to be raised higher as he grew. We would just unscrew it and re-screw it at the proper height. We also made a back spacer that we inserted into the chair. We would make it smaller as he grew and then re-insert it into the chair.

Here is his first test after we made it. You can see how small he is in the chair - but the way we made the spacing and adjustable parts, he fits in there pretty well. We obviously over estimated the pillow he sat on - which we changed, eventually to a folded up towel. We did pad the chair with Gym Flooring from Dick's Sporting Goods that has held up very well.

Above is his first meal in the chair when he was just a little 14 pound baby. It took him a while to get used to the chair - but we sat with him the whole time and started out in small time blocks, building up to the 30 minutes we now do. It took a few months if I remember correctly.

So as Sidney grew, we made several small adjustments - making the paw bar higher and making the back spacer smaller and smaller. It was always a special day when we made adjustments. It meant we were having success in Sidney's health. He was gaining weight, getting nutrients and growing into a big boy. You can see from this above photo that it has been adjusted compared to the earlier pictures. Ultimately, once Sidney was full grown, we took the Bailey Chair and made the final measurements. Using the same chair and materials from the original version, we made the final version of the Bailey Chair, complete with a new paint job. The final photo is below. Sidney usually sits with his paws both up on the paw bar, but he is so comfortable in there now, he sometimes just relaxes with one paw on the bar. Whatever works.

So ultimately, we were able to make the most out of our situation. We were worried about the cost of building multiple chairs, but out of necessity, we figured out how to make this work. We even have his Portable Bailey Chair set at the final height and size as well (see below). So now both of his Bailey Chairs are working our well and so is Sidney.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Our General Megaesophagus Routine

We spend a lot of time with Sidney, he even grabs his Penguins Stuffed Animal while we watch the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey games on TV. He is the #1 priority in our life :)
Of course Sidney regurgitated yesterday morning in a bunch of piles. But my little buddy worked hard to make sure he went onto the tile instead of the carpet. Like he knew it was easier for us to clean. It was mainly stomach acid. Recently he seems to be getting uncomfortable late at night and I see him sitting up vertical for a bit until he feels better. These are just minor occurrences and he hasn't regurgitated before that in over a month I think. But it did make me think just about our life with Sidney in general.
I do realize how much we base our schedule and life around Sidney. We just can't drop a bowl of water on the ground and some food and then go about our business. Everything is on a timed plan. He gets his 5mg of Bethanechol in some Knox Blox before Tiff leaves for work around 6:30am and sits in his Bailey Chair about 7-10 minutes - then she soaks his food. I get him in his Bailey Chair and get him fed at 7am until 7:30 when he's done. I soak his food for the next meal at lunch.
At lunch - I come home from work, put another cup of water into his food and take him outside. Then get him in his chair and feed him the food and Knox Blox again for 30 minutes.
For his dinner meal - we need to make sure we get it completed at a decent time. He needs his 5mg of Bethanechol in some Knox Blox and then we need to soak his food - wait 30 minuted then feed him with his Prilosec OTC in the food, while letting him chill in the Bailey Chair for another 30 minutes.
While it sounds like a lot of work, it's not something I mind doing. We do have to make sure we arrange our personal life around this schedule because it's so important to us to keep this routine and Sidney healthy. I like spending time with Sidney and even though it takes up a lot of our time - I am happy to live like this for the next 15 years (hopefully).

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Megaesophagus and Water


So I took my buddy Sidney to the dog park today because it was really nice out for a January day. As always, he had so much fun and as always, there is water in bowls out at the park. Since Sidney has MegaE and cannot drink water like non-MegaE dogs or risk Aspration Pneumonia, it is always a concern. This is the case for us anyways, not necessarily the horizontal drinking of water which is a No-NO for all MegaE dogs, but for us it doesn't even work well in his Bailey Chair (so we give him water in the form of Knox Blox - recipe is in a below post). I always make sure to give Sid extra Knox Blox before we go and I just feel lucky that he really has no interest in drinking water from a bowl. I assume since he was born with MegaE, that it is so much easier for us to manage this because he has only known how not to drink water from a bowl. I say this because he ignores the water bowls - see the above photo.

Anyways, what I love is that Sidney is allowed to be a normal dog. He can have fun playing with other dogs and it really makes me happy to let him be normal and happy. YES, I watch him closely, but we really have our system down and we have a happy and normal dog. Does he have MegaE? Yup. Does he care? Nope!! That's all that matters to me. So if you get the diagnosis and wonder what your fur kid's life will be like. It will be great. Just get your system down and let your dog be a dog and enjoy having fun. It has worked for us. And I am so much happier, living though Sidney's happiness.

FOLLOW UP: I was curious about Prilosec OTC longtime use in my previous post. From what I have found, it isn't an issue and for us, we will continue with this every night for Sidney!!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Shedding, Prilosec OTC and Regurgitation

Sidney is wore out from partying on New Year's Eve!!
So, Sidney has been shedding A LOT lately. He is a Lab, that's the deal, I get it. And also lately, he has had some late-night regurgitation issues or late-night issues where he woke up at 3am and just looked uncomfortable. Some afternoon episodes too, but those are rare. His recent regurgitation looked basically like it was from him ingesting his shedding hair. He licks his paws a ton and somehow ate a bunch of his shedded hair. I am hoping that his recent episodes are just that. EPISODES. I feel like they were isolated because he seems super fine outside of this. He played with my friend's Black Lab Cisco on New Year's Eve for the ENTIRE night and could not have been more energetic or more happy. I cannot stress how HAPPY he was. He loves playing with other dogs so much. Once his favorite dog park Bow Wow Beach opens back up next year, we will be there every week!! So basically, Sidney is doing great, I just always worry about him when he has a bad day. Way over protective I know. But I have to be. It's my obligation to my favorite buddy in the world.
On another note, I have been curious about long-term Prilosec OTC usage and the effects. Only because I have seen commercials that state to only use for 14 days at a time and a cycle of 14 days every 4 months (in the fine print). Sidney has been on it for 2 years straight. I will do some research online. However, since it has helped with significantly decreasing regurgitation and the potential for Aspiration Pneumonia (which can KILL him fast), the risks are most likely worth the reward of his life being extended for around 13 more years. I'm no expert, but want to make sure what we do for Sidney is always the best for him. So I am going to ask the vet and my actual people doctor about it to be sure. I just do not want to potentially create a new health problem for Sidney since he obviously already has a stupid MegaE problem.
Happy New Year. Sidney has already had more than he was predicted to and will have many more. Megaesophagus is NOT A DEATH SENTENCE!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

2 Year Vet Check-Up


Sidney had his 2 year Vet appointment last Friday. They tested his blood work, fecal samples and several other things. The tests all came back great. No problems. He is healthy and in good shape and weighed in at 53 pounds.

So even though Sidney is on 5mg of Bethanechol twice a day and gets one Prilosec OTC tablet in the evenings - that hasn't adversely affected his health. I was worried that maybe since he is a dog and these aren't typical meds for a dog to be on regularly, that maybe it would affect other parts of him negatively. Luckily, this is not the case and Sidney has a clean bill of health. So our routine is working. His diet is keeping him in shape. He is well-hydrated, has a great coat and the meds seem to help minimize the regurgitation from what we can tell. Although he regurgitated when I got home from work yesterday. Wouldn't be life with Sidney's Megaesophagus without at least one hiccup.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sidney is Feeling Better

Sidney seems much better. Not sure what was wrong - but it is always better to be safe than sorry. When we suspect anything, we address it immediately. If the main threat to Sidney's life is Aspiration Pneumonia, then we are taking that very serious.
I believe that as long as we diligently keep a watch for any of these symptoms that Sidney will live a very long, healthy and happy life.
ALSO - the photo is what Sidney does when he is feeling uncomfortable or sick. He raises himself fairly vertical on the couch and sits like that until he feels better. Pretty impressive.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sick in the Middle of the Night


Sidney woke me up at around 4am the other day. It wasn't the normal swallowing sounds or regurgitation. It was more like he was struggling to regurgitate. He did it several times and then kept trying. I felt so bad for him, but I really couldn't do anything at 4 in the morning aside from sit with him and try and make him feel better. Maybe he ate a stick or something. It's tough to tell. He unfortunately loves to eat sticks for some reason, which is super frustrating. YES, we try and correct the behavior every day - easier said than done.

I was worried because he sneezed several times and it seemed like he was having trouble breathing. What sucks is it's hard to distinguish between a Megaesophagus issue and a random he has something stuck in his throat issue. Of course I err on the side of caution. Aspiration Pneumonia is the enemy. It is the one thing that will kill him with this stupid condition. After a while he seemed to get out whatever the problem was, but we still need to be careful.

We have watched him closely, got him on his Aspiration Pneumonia meds to be safe and have the Vet on speed dial. So far he hasn't shown any more symptoms or issues. However last night around 4am again, he woke me up with his "more normal" gulping/swallowing sounds. He sits up as straight as he can because I think it makes him feel better in a vertical position. My smart little guy.

He hasn't lost his appetite and hasn't lost any energy or had any difficulty breathing, etc. So I think we will be OK - hopefully anyways. We will get him checked out next week to be sure unless I see something that we need to rush him to the Vet sooner.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Our Canine Megaesophagus Diet Routine and Bailey Chair - TV News Story

I posted these before but thought they were worth putting up again. They seem to have helped some people out, which is really why I did the interviews in the first place.

These are two WKYC/NBC News Stories about us and Sidney. I'm always a fan of giving people hope and spreading the word that Megaesophagus IS NOT A DEATH SENTENCE!!


Nightly News Story - http://bcove.me/86sabsuv



Morning News Story - http://bcove.me/pfy38cyx

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Regurgitation in his Bailey Chair


Photo above shows what he regurgitated - down by his feet.

Most days are good, some days are bad. The other day Sidney regurgitated while he was in his Bailey Chair. I have no explanation why. I didn't see it happen. Maybe he could have been standing up with his chest on his paw bar, or his esophagus could just have been irritated. Not sure. Poor guy.

This has happened before - not a lot, but it has happened before in his Bailey Chair. I cleaned it up and left him in the chair for the remainder of his 30 minute sit time. He seemed alright after that. It didn't look like the entire meal, but some Knox Blox were in there. He has been drooling a lot more than normal lately - which happens sometimes. When he is more drooly than normal I keep a closer eye on him. I'm not sure if that indicates anything is wrong outside of being a drooly Lab, but better safe than sorry.

I guess it's just important for us to keep an eye on him, which we obviously do. He seems fine and hasn't had any problems after that. Regurgitation happens, even in his Bailey Chair.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Happy 2nd Birthday Sidney!



Above is Sidney's first time in his Bailey Chair as a newly diagnosed Mega-E puppy and what he looks like today as a full grown, healthy, happy Labrador Retriever.

Well I guess that month or so of life expectancy wasn't so accurate. I remember the overwhelming feeling or dread when we received the "Diagnosis of Doom." I also remember how worried we were that we couldn't maintain a routine with both of us working full-time jobs. I also remember how overly concerned we were in the beginning with getting his weight up - in fact I weighed him every single day. I also remember worrying that he could die any day.

All of those concerns were a long time ago and a distant memory. Everything we do is just, well, normal. We enjoy our time with Sidney the Healthy Lab, not Sidney the Mega-E Puppy Doomed to Die. Sure we're always worried about Aspiration Pneumonia and concerned when Sidney has his "bad periods". Trust me - we aren't getting lazy or complacent, we just don't spend our time worrying about what can go wrong and are instead enjoying life with our fur kid. I know a lot of people with dogs. They have the same worries about their dog's health, just about different things. My dog ate a rope (yes a friend's Lab ate an entire rope) or my dog got sprayed by a skunk, etc.

The fact is that all dogs need special attention. The 2 years we have spent with Sidney and managing his Megaesophagus condition has really been a blessing. I think the problem, if any, was more emotional than anything else, especially in the beginning. But through Sidney we have been able to help so many other people that faced the same diagnosis in the beginning with their dogs. We've heard from people about our blog and how it helped them. We've built several Bailey Chairs for people who were in need. Local TV News and Newspapers have covered his story and educated so many people.

I know we got Sidney for a reason. Happy 2nd Birthday little buddy!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Our Routine for Megaesophagus When Traveling

During the months of September, October and November I am required to be working and out of the house for almost 15 hours a day. So I take Sidney with me. But this basically takes us out of our comfort zone for THE ROUTINE. We do bring his Portable Bailey Chair and his travel bag with everything we need, but he is not in his crate with his head elevated, etc. We also make sure to have Knox Blox on hand in the refrigerator for him as well. I found that they will melt into liquid if you leave them in the car. DUH.
While we are working - mainly outside - Sidney is tied up near us so we can keep an eye on him. But the problem for us is that it's OUTSIDE. Take a look at the photo. There are acorns, sticks, leaves and all kinds of stuff on the ground that he can chew on or eat. End result is that most likely his esophagus gets irritated and regurgitation follows. This is my main worry. He has regurgitated a few times this weekend from grazing, but for the most part he has done great. Maybe he is getting a little older and becoming less of a chewer. He will be 2 years old September 26th.
So our routine has changed a bit - basically the TIME OF DAY he gets his Bethanechol pills and also the TIMES OF DAY he gets his meals. I was worried that this change in timing would have a bad result, but so far it isn't affecting him in any way that I can tell. I think as long as we keep the meds and meals on a decent schedule - it won't matter as much. At least that's what we hope.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Sidney's Megaesophagus Medicine Routine


We've had a few nights where Sidney regurgitated - but WAY more where he hasn't. I like to think it's because of the routine we have worked out based on our trial and error over the past year and a half. Many dogs don't need any medicine for this from what I hear. We worked with our DVM to figure out what worked for Sidney. Sidney may not need any - but what we are giving him seems to work, or at least it isn't making matters worse. We have tried different routines with his meds.

SUCRALFATE
At first we gave Sidney his Sucralfate 2x per day (EVERY DAY) to soothe his esophagus. That really was a lot of work from a timing standpoint on our end. Now, we just give it to him when he's having bad periods of regurgitation episodes.

METACHLOPROMIDE AND BETHANECHOL
For his digestion meds, we started with Metachlopromide 3x per day - 30 minutes prior to meals. That worked OK. But not as good as we liked, so we decided to try 5mg of Bethanechol 2x per day - 30 minutes prior to meals (we hide the pill in Knox Blox). At first we made the mistake of giving him Metachlopromide AND the Bethanechol - that just made him much worse. It's either one or the other. So we discontinued the Metachlopromide and changed entirely to Bethanechol. We also started Bethanechol in 10mg doses (that seemed too much for him). So we have since went down to 5mg doses, which has worked well for us. We have always had Sidney sit in the Bailey Chair for 7-10 minutes after he got his meds. Maybe it's because we started Bethanechol when he was a puppy that it seems to help. I'm honestly not sure if it does, but since everything is working well - we are going to continue it. Better safe than sorry.

PRILOSEC OTC
The final med that we give Sidney EVERY DAY is Prilosec OTC (or a generic). He gets the pill in his evening meal. I feel like it has helped eliminate night-time regurgitation, or at least has helped decrease it significantly.

While it hasn't always been easy, it seems what we are doing is working for Sidney. If and when the routine stops working successfully, we will just figure out the next routine that works best. Maybe it will be a different med - or no meds at all. Who knows? But for now, I am happy with how great Sidney is doing despite this cruel condition.