Tuesday, December 7, 2010

1 Year Post-MegaE Diagnosis Today

It was one year ago today that we were informed that Sidney had Congenital Megaesophagus and probably didn't have much longer to live. He was 14 pounds and 10 weeks old. We struggled to find our way to give Sidney a quality of life while we still had him around.

However, what we did instead was give him a way to survive and live a long and very normal life. We found the Yahoo MegaE Discussion Group Site and the people there helped us get through the stressful beginning of managing the condition. That was 1 year ago and a lot has changed since then - all for the better.

He is now 53 pounds and almost 14 months old! He has RG episodes, but they are not very common and he isn't suffering through them, only my carpet is. For those reading this and are wondering if it is difficult to manage, it is at first because you are basically freaking out and convinced your dog is doomed. But when the routine sets in and the fear subsides, it's just the way it is. Sidney is a happy, energetic, normal Chocolate Lab, he just gets to eat in a chair and gets honey licks for treats instead of regular treats. I'm sure he doesn't care one bit (or realize that it isn't normal).

Just a message of hope for everyone dealing with this same condition.

Friday, November 12, 2010

1 Year Vet Check-Up Yesterday

Sidney had his yearly check-up at the vet yesterday. He was 55.5 pounds and is now almost 14 months old. Everything checked out great. His regurgitation period from a few posts back has subsided. YAY. So Sidney is a considered a normal, healthy Lab Puppy, despite the ME!!

We received his Report Card on health that listed everything as an "A". He did get a bad grade for his left ear, a "D" - he has an ear infection, but we got the medicine and are administering it twice a day - so it will be fine.

The best grade Sidney got was a "C". That was for his weight. I know it's tough to get weight on MegaE dogs so the "C" grade was fine with us. However - after looking at why we received a "C" grade, I felt that it should have been an "A++++". We received the "C" because Sidney is actually considered 5.5 pounds OVERWEIGHT!!!!

Sidney keeps on proving everyone wrong. Way to go my porky little friend!!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Success Story - Spreading the word that Megaesophagus IS NOT A DEATH SENTENCE!

Click on the article a few times and it will get large enough to read!!

Sidney had an article about his condition come out in The Cleveland Canine magazine. It goes out to DVM offices, pet stores, etc. If it helps one dog not be put to sleep because of MegaE, mission is accomplished!!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Regurgitation has returned, AGAIN.

For some reason Sidney has started regurgitating again - usually it has been in the middle of the night for the past week. Yesterday he did in the morning in his Bailey Chair as well. We're keeping an eye on him closely. He has not lost his puppy energy (BIG TIME), but feeding him has been slightly more difficult. I actually spoon fed him yesterday morning, but the evening meal he ate pretty fast. The thing with Sidney is that we will have a long stretch where it seems like everything is OK with no RG periods. Then all of the sudden it shows up again. While it's normal with his condition, it still kind of sucks because I feel bad for him and want him to be better.

Hopefully this is over soon and we don't have to risk Aspiration Pneumonia. We are gonna give him some Sucralfate in between meals to see if this helps.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

New Diet for Megaesophagus is Working Great

Sidney's new diet without canned dog food as half of the mixture is staying down great. We now have bumped up his dry/soaked Eukanuba Large Breed Puppy Food to 1.5 cups and are eliminating the addition of the tablespoon of Eukanuba Puppy Weaning Formula. We are going to use the Weaning Formula addition during times when he is having bad RG periods to try and get additional calories in his meals. While this new mixture takes up more water to blend, Sidney seems to be able to hold it and not have any accidents like a big boy. Plus there is no harm in making sure he is hydrated extra well. We decided to change this because he's up to 57 pounds at 13 months. He'll always be a smaller guy, but his weight seems right on for his size. He started out at only 14 pounds when he was diagnosed in December of 2009 and gained weight really slow, but stayed healthy. I guess that's how it works with ME puppies.

Here is his new yummy meal that he gets 3 times a day:

1.5 cups of Eukanuba Large Breed Puppy Food
1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons of Instant Oatmeal
2 cups of water - possibly more

This is all soaked in water and blended to a milkshake consistency.

We still feed him 5 or 6 Knox Blox for additional hydration after he eats his meal.

Monday, September 27, 2010


Sidney turned one year old yesterday. After being diagnosed with ME at 10 weeks, we're really happy to see this day and all of the others that will follow.

Happy Birthday little buddy!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sidney's First Concert

I own a haunted house company named The Carnival of Horrors, which I am building during the month of September. Sidney hangs out there with me because I need to get him his food and meds, but need to be there all day and night. It's at an outdoor amphitheater named Blossom Music Center. Usually each year we build the event while concerts are going on. KISS played last Sunday, so Sidney got to see them live. Kind of funny how people kept asking how I snuck him in.

On another note he seems to have his appetite back. Still RG'ing periodically like normal. But I think he is loving the buffet of sticks on the ground at Blossom, which is irritating his esophagus. He did RG inside one of the haunted houses, but I cleaned it up!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Seemed a bit odd - Aspiration Pneumonia?

Last week Sidney started to not show too much interest in eating his food. He did eat, but wasn't as excited as usual, which made me nervous. This went on all week. I know we changed his food to all soaked blended kibble, but he still was excited to eat it. He also started regurgitating again (more than normal), so we rushed him on Friday into the vet to check for Aspiration Pneumonia. They always have him as a #1 priority.

We didn't do the X-Rays (costs a ton and it doesn't show up in a really early stage), but she listened to his lungs, took his temp, etc. Just to be safe we have him on his Clavamox meds and are keeping a close eye on him. If he still seems odd we'll get the X-Rays done.

He did wake me up last night regurgitating, but I saw that he ate an acorn while examining what he regurgitated, so I know the culprit. Yes, it's smart to examine the nasty mess to see if anything outside of his normal food is in there. I usually get more alarmed if it is only food and no outside element is to blame for the RG. We try to always check his mouth after he was outside because he loves to sneak in contraband. There are a ton of sticks in front of our door that he tried to bring with him on the way back in the house.

He seems to be doing better now. Still isn't super excited for the food all the time, but he still licks the bowl clean. Sorry buddy if it doesn't taste as good as the canned stuff. When you get a job you can eat your canned food!!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Helping those in need - Building a Bailey Chair

I don't post much on the Yahoo ME Support Group site but always check it out to see if someone needs help or if there is any new info that could be beneficial to Sidney. There was a person in Florida with a cute little German Shepard puppy that wasn't able to build a Bailey Chair. I know how helpless you feel in the beginning after you get this horrible diagnosis, so I offered to help them out and build one like Sid's Portable Chair.

A nice friend Linda, that has her own ME dog named Baron, that I met through the Yahoo site that lives nearby offered to pay for the shipping. So I used the materials I had left from Sid's Portable Chair and other random projects and built little Barry (puppy's name) a chair.

They send us pictures and updates on how Barry is doing and he's doing great.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

New experiment with his Megaesophagus diet

So one of the more expensive things about ME dogs, aside from initial vet bills, is the food. At least in our case. We have been soaking 1/2 cup of Dry Eukanuba Large Breed Puppy Food with 1/2 cup of Canned Eukanuba Puppy Chicken and Gravy Food. As you can imagine, canned food for a Lab can get expensive. Plus, the cans seem to run out fast (we can't buy 100 at a time) and we are running to the pet store on a more than regular basis to buy the cans. Then while I'm there we spend more money because we want to buy him toys. So, I go in the store for 12 cans of food and get out with double the cost.

Regardless, now that Sidney is about 11 months old and is 100% house-trained and has better bladder control, we are going to try 1 cup of the Dry Dog Food soaked and eliminate the Canned (we are still adding the Fish Oil, the Instant Oatmeal and the Eukanuba Puppy Weaning Formula). The reason we did the 50/50 mixture at first was because we were having to add so much water to the dry food to get it soft enough to be blended into a milkshake that he was wetting himself in his cage every day after the new ME diet. I think we just were giving our puppy more water than his little bladder could handle.

Now that he's older, I hope that not only will the additional water not affect his bladder, but also help him get more hydration. We do feed him about 4 or 5 Knox Blox with each meal, but I think more is better than less.

My main concern is that his stomach and esophagus will allow this change, but it's worth a shot. He'll get the same nutrition. I know a lot of ME dogs can't do soaked dry kibble, but Sidney has done well with it mixed with canned. Wish us luck!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Having a few bad days

Sidney started regurgitating this week out of the blue. I'm pretty sure it wasn't something he ate off of the ground (I didn't see anything when I was cleaning up after him). I know that it happens from time to time, but I made sure to keep a really close eye on him to make sure he didn't show signs of aspiration pneumonia. He hasn't RG'd for a day or so now - so we might be through it. Poor little guy.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Traveling with Sidney and his Portable Bailey Chair

 I have loaded the plans at the below link - via the Facebook Canine Megaesophagus Support Group Files Section:
Sidney's Portable Bailey Chair Instructions
This weekend was Sidney's first official trip to Middle Bass Island in Lake Erie. The official name is Put-in-Bay. He did great on the boat and only didn't appear to agree with the large waves we encountered on the way up. But overall, I didn't agree with those waves either. He had his life vest on and didn't seem to mind, which was pretty cool. Plus he got to witness the removal of some drunk idiot's driving of a golf cart into the lake!
Luckily we beat the major storm by 10 minutes. That would not have been fun. Anyways, Sid seemed to do great and had ZERO RG. There was a boat ramp with lake access right next to the boat, so Sid had fun playing in the water and we had even more fun trying to keep him from eating seaweed and for some odd reason, he liked to attack water bubbles.
We brought his travel case with us and we built his Bailey Chair downstairs by an air conditioner vent, which he loved!! His travel bag worked out perfect again. We had his Magic Bullet, Canned and Dry Food, Oatmeal and Eukanuba Puppy Weaning Formula for meals. We used the microwave to heat water for his dry food to help it soften faster. We also brought a bunch of Knox Blox from home and kept them in the fridge. We must love Sidney because that took up a lot of space for beer!! We also had his meds and toys, so it's REALLY nice to know we can travel with Sidney fairly easily. We brought his Pro-Collar to sleep in if it seemed he woke up gurgly or if he regurgitated. But he didn't. He had a few bad days a week or so ago in the middle of the night, but we think he just ate something outside that irritated the esophagus.
So all-in-all, Sidney is officially a boat dog!!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Canine Megaesophagus Toys

Poor Sidney only has a limited amount of toys he can really play with. We have to make sure he doesn't get toys where he can eat the stuffing or eat pieces off like Labs like to do. Sidney is a Lab puppy and LOVES to chew (luckily not the furniture). Problem is, we can't let him. He isn't allowed to eat anything without being vertical in his chair.

We found some that are tough nylon types of toys that he likes. Kind of like the Kong Wubba toys (SEE PHOTO). He likes to chase the tennis ball too (if it squeaks). It was/is difficult because he has so much puppy energy that we need to tend to him more than if we could give him a bone to chew on to occupy him. He can't have any bones, treats, rawhides, treats, treats or TREATS (you get the picture, all the stuff dogs LOVE). On all the Lab sites I looked at - everyone gives their dogs Kongs with treats inside, toys with treats inside, etc. I wish Sid liked the Nylabones that are mostly indestructible, but he could care less about them, they're just a tasteless piece of hard plastic. Before his diagnosis, he loved chewing on bones (not real bones but dog bones). That would give us a little down time from our crazy little guy. But he's getting used to playing fetch with the toys he can have.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Hydration for Canine Megaesophagus - Knox Blox

Since it's sometimes difficult for Sidney to keep down water, he gets additional hydration from Knox Blox. This is like Jell-O without the branding name. We feed him the Knox Blox in his Bailey Chair after he eats. He also gets water from the food mixture, but when it's hot that just isn't enough. Here's the recipe we use, I've seen that other people also use low sodium chicken broth to replace the 1 Cup of Cold Water, but Sid likes 'em this way and they kind of are treats to him since he LOVES honey.

QTY 1 - Box of 4 Packets of Unflavored Knox Gelatin
QTY 3 - Cups of Boiling Water
QTY 1 - Cup of Regular Tap Water (Cold or Room Temp)
QTY 2 - Tablespoons of Honey

I mix the 4 packets that come in the box into the 1 Cup of Cold water and also then mix in the Honey. Then I add the boiling water and stir. I have a container like a Pyrex dish that I keep it in. I put it in the fridge and when it hardens we cut the Gelatin into ice cube size blocks with a spatula. I generally feed him 2 or 3 of them per meal depending on what he needs. I also give him some after the dog park or when I need to give him his medicine (I hide the pill in the Knox Blox and he eats it that way).

If I just give him the Knox Blox, he is in his chair for about 7 minutes. That seems to work fine for him. I assume more time for other dogs is needed depending on the routine.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Some helpful Megaesophagus Web sites

Here are some Web sites that helped us when we were in panic-mode when we received Sidney's diagnosis.

Yahoo ME Support Group (by far the most helpful site with info and support):


Squidoo - Great blog written about a MegaE dog named Tyson with TONS of great info:

Marisvet (a good simple "Lamens terms" explanation of the condition):

Good Site for Success Stories (which means a lot when you think your pup is doomed):

ME NING Community (another support group):

Facebook Group:

YouTube videos of the Bailey Chair and other ME stuff:

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

New Daily Schedule - Megaesophagus Diet and Meds

Since I changed his meds from Metachlopromide to Bethanechol and have been a bit more relaxed on the Sucralfate, I figured I would update his Daily Routine on this post.

Basically, I try and give him the Sucralfate when he is having his regurgitation episodes as opposed to once or twice a day, EVERY DAY.

However, the past few days have been rough for him, he's regurgitated at least once or twice a day, so he's back on the Sucralfate as of now. It's been a pretty substantial amount and my carpet isn't looking too pretty right now. But he didn't RG last night or this morning, so we may be in the clear, although he did somehow grab a fly out of mid-air and ate it yesterday afternoon. He'll eat ANYTHING, which is frustrating, but we do what we can to stop it. Lots of hands in his mouth puling out random stuff.

Here is his current diet and medication/feeding schedule:

AS NEEDED IF HE IS REGURGITATING: Gets a half tab of Sucralfate diluted in 6cc of water (ONLY WATER – NO HONEY) – shake vigorously and give him small bursts so he swallows slowly
• NEEDS it 2 hours after eating or 1 hour before anything else to ensure it coats the esophagus – only needs held up for 30 sec to 1 minute after

MEAL PREPARATION: Blended to Milkshake Consistency
• ½ Cup of Dried Eukanuba Kibble Soaked in ½ cup of HOT water and 1 TBSP of Salmon Fish Oil (Soak it in HOT WATER and the Olive Oil right after he gets his medicine and sometimes you need to add more water – HOT WATER so it softens food)
• ½ Cup of Eukanuba Canned Food – Chicken and Gravy Puppy Food
• 1 TBSP of Oatmeal and 1 TBSP of Eukanuba Puppy Weaning Formula
• ½ - 1 cup of additional water

MORNING MEDICINE (BETHANECHOL – 5mg): Get’s ½ a tablet of Bethanechol – He needs to be in his Bailey Chair for 5 minutes after he gets it – I hide it in a Knox Blox and feed it to him in his chair

MORNING MEAL: Bailey Chair for 30 minutes
• Also give a few Knox Blox for hydration

AFTERNOON MEAL: Bailey Chair for 30 minutes
• Also give a few Knox Blox for hydration

EVENING MEDICINE (BETHANECHOL – 5mg): Get’s ½ a tablet of Bethanechol – He needs to be in his Bailey Chair for 5 minutes after he gets it – I hide it in a Knox Blox and feed it to him in his chair

EVENING MEAL: Bailey Chair for 30 minutes
• 1 tablet of Prilosec with food – I hide it in a Knox Blox like Bethanechol

Monday, June 21, 2010

A day at the dog park

One of Sidney's favorite places is a place called Bow-Wow Beach. It's a great dog park with a lake that he makes sure he plays in all the time. One of the tough things about having an ME dog is the ability to let him be a puppy. You can find yourself getting caught up in everything he puts his mouth on and wondering "will this cause him to get sick, again get Aspiration Pneumonia and die?" The fact that you can actually see him smiling the whole time at the park makes everything worth it. He always finds some other puppies to play with and just has a great time playing, running and getting dirty!

We try and play fetch in the water, which has some success. He still is unsure of the full swimming thing, but is always running in the water. I do worry that sometimes he may get a gulp of water when he's in there, but I just try and hold him up after he gets out for a while. We've been there about 30 times and he hasn't had any problems, so far so good. He does RG there sometimes with all the running around and whatever else he gets in to, but better there than on my carpet and couch!! He seems fine when he's there overall and is just having the time of his life, so we'll keep going.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Trying Bethanechol - AGAIN.

Last time we tried Bethanechol, we had some bad RG weeks. But what I didn't realize was that we shouldn't give Sidney the Metachlopromide AND the Bethanechol. It's one or the other. We did both and it obviously didn't work well.

So we decided last week to try and change from the Metachlopromide to the Bethanacol to see how it works. Instead of getting the 2.5 ml of Metachlopromide 3x per day (1/2 hour prior to each meal), we now just give him .5mg of Bethanechol 2x per day.

So far he has done great and has had ZERO regurgitation. Another big reason I hope this can be a permanent change is time we can save. With both of us working, the 2nd (after-work) meal limits what we can do that evening when you have to administer the Metachlopromide 30 minutes before he eats. With the Bethanechol only twice a day in the morning and evening, that middle medicine session is eliminated!! Why is that important?

Let's say I get home after work at 5:30pm. I have to get him out of his cage and walk him. Maybe I can get him the Metachlopromide by 5:45, which means that he cannot get his meal until about 6:15pm. Then, 30 minutes in the chair and it's almost 7pm. Plus we like to take him to the dog park, but given that we do not want to risk food sliding out of his stomach and back into his esophagus, we really need a minimum of an hour after that for digestion. So, to get Sidney to the dog park at 8pm? Heck it's almost bed time. Plus, a Pittsburgh Penguins hockey game may be on. I need a life too!

So what I am getting at is that I can skip the Sucralfate I give him at lunch (and switch it to after work) and feed him his 2nd meal instead, since there is no 30 minutes to wait prior to his meal and we can go straight to the dog park after work at 5:30pm instead of at 8pm. HUGE difference. As for the Sucralfate? I just give him it before we head out to the park. This will free up my time and his time to exercise.

Goal here is a happy and exercised puppy, as well as a parent with some sort of life. So far, so good.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Portable Bailey Chair

If you want my plans for the Portable Bailey Chair I made for Sidney - email me at ryanpluta@yahoo.com

I uploaded the instructions on the Facebook Canine Megaesophagus Support Group's Files Section:

Sidney's Portable Bailey Chair Instructions 

So one of the big problems with Sidney is moving his Bailey Chair when we travel or if someone looks after him. The main one he uses is in our kitchen and is built heavy-duty because it never dawned on us that we would be needing to move it around. If anyone reading this needs to know how to build a Bailey Chair (regular version), Donna Koch from the Yahoo Support Group will send you a DVD on how to build it for just what she spent in postage. Her dog Bailey is who the chair is named after.

Anyways, our main Bailey Chair is large, bulky, heavy and cumbersome for us to transport on any regular basis. So what I did Friday was build one that is portable and can be built and disassembled in about 20 seconds. It has 2 sides, a back and the bottom base. I also have the Paw bar and a bottom spacer that holds the sides in place and dowel rods that holds the sides and back together. I made it to slide into supports so that it holds together without actually screwing it it place. Now that I am trying to explain it, I realize I'm not too good at explaining it. Anyways, trust me - it works great and is light and easily broken down for transportation.

Sidney had a great time on the boat this weekend and was well behaved and 'gasp' didn't have one regurgitation problem at all, even though he didn't sleep in his elevated cage. We did put a pro-collar on him when he slept which keeps his head elevated to avoid any esophagus irritation. All in all it's great to know that Sid can travel and spend the day somewhere fun without worrying about his feeding routine!!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Made it through the rough patch

Poor Sidney was throwing up for about a week and sometimes it was multiple times a day. By far the most since we got a handle on the Megaesophagus condition last December.

We decided to stop using the Bethanechol and use up all of the remaining Metachlopromide instead of using them both together. We will then try the Bethanechol by itself and see which seems to work best for him and go with that med. Sidney had horrible retching and regurgitation for a week or so that hopefully ended yesterday. He seemed better, but you never know. We're keeping an eye on him. Hopefully the rough patch is over.

He seemed kind of sluggish, but now has his energy back. I was concerned about him getting pneumonia from all of the RG, but he seems to be doing better. I feel so bad for the little guy when he has his rough days. It may have been some esophagitis from eating stuff off of the ground. He never lost his appetite though, which is good.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Bad Day - Changing Bethanechol Dosage

We started the Bethanechol in 10mg doses, 2x per day, which seemed like it was doing some good. However, yesterday morning Sidney was retching, making some horrible vomit sounds. He then vomited all over his cage. This also happened the previous morning. This is a bit abnormal for an ME dog. Normally the RG just kind of falls out. Especially in mornings where stomach acid found is way into the esophagus and irritated it overnight. This was different, this was a vomiting episode (still looked like stomach acid). Again in the late afternoon he looked like he did it again while I was watching him on his Internet Camera, so I know we have a problem that needs immediate attention.

We are going to try and decrease the dosage to 5mg, 2x per day and see if that was the cause. We did give him an extra dose of Sucralfate last night before bedtime to see if that helps soothe his esophagus. It didn't seem like he regurgitated this morning, so some good news. With ME dogs, you need to keep a log of all changes you make to get the proper routine down. If this doesn't help, I will eliminate the Bethanechol and track his progress then. Problem is that you never know what causes the episodes, just have to do your best to figure it out so he doesn't contract secondary aspiration pneumonia, which is the scariest part of this whole thing.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Introducing a New Med - Bethanchol

This is a photo of Sidney chewing on Michael Vick

After seeing several people speak highly of Bethanechol on the Yahoo group site and doing my own research online, we started the Bethanechol on Friday by giving 10 mg before the morning and evening meals, when he gets his Metachlopromide. Costs were prohibiting it because I was told by my vet that it was about $66 for a month supply. But I found out that Costco has the prescription for $25 for a 12 week supply. Worth the 2 hour round trip for that since Sid has been having episodes every morning.

It was difficult to try and find a way to get it into his tummy, since water usually doesn't stay down too well. First I tried to crush it and mix it with some fish oil, but that didn't stay down too long and I was cleaning it up off of the floor in no time. It needs to be taken on an empty stomach, so I finally ended up hiding it in a Knox Blox (the Jell-O cube that we give him to eat in his chair to keep him hydrated) and that seemed to work. Kind of like a make-shift Pill Pocket. We may need to put him in his Bailey Chair for his pre-meal meds now to get this done correctly.

Bethanechol is used in people to treat urinary retention after surgery. The thought in ME dogs is that it can help with the nerve function in the esophagus, hopefully giving it some of its life back. Here's some medical info I found online. It is a cholinergic agonist, so it binds to cholinergic receptors and causes smooth muscle contraction. For it to work the nerves that connect to the smooth muscle do not have to be functioning. We were really concerned that there would be urinary or intestinal side effects of the Bethanechol, since these tissues are also smooth muscle with the same receptors. Basically we're worried he's going to start peeing all over the place and lose control of his bladder. So, the first morning Sid received 10 mg. He had no bladder accidents, so he received another 10 mg that night. He usually RGs right when he wakes up in the morning, but he didn't this time. Good news. We continued with 10 mg twice a day. He didn't RG again until this morning, all over the bed and carpet. I think it's because I let him sleep in my bed as opposed to his cage we rigged up to keep his head elevated, or he ate something at the dog park or on our hike this weekend. Sorry Sid. We didn't notice a dramatic effect and not sure if this will take more time to do what it is supposed to do, but he did RG much less than normal. Not going to get too excited just yet.

It is still early in this test, but I will continue to try and evaluate if it is making a difference, but you never know if he ate something he shouldn't have behind my back.

There are several believers that the Bethanechol can reduce the symptoms of Congenital Megaesophagus in dogs. But, there is NO cure, so if this helps him RG less then it will be worth it. STAY TUNED.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Keeping an Eye on Sid

Problem with Megaesophagus is that when he regurgitates, he has a chance to contract secondary aspiration pneumonia. The worry is that when he does RG, he eats it back up, then does it again, again and again. Recipe for disaster. I only live about 15 minutes from where I work and usually go home at lunch to check on him and give him his sucralfate. But there were some really bad patches where you could just see all of his blankets stained with RG. Kind of scary knowing the consequences.

So in order to try and see if he is regurgitating while we are at work and to give us a chance to stop him from eating it back up and getting it in his lungs, I bought a wireless camera. So basically what I do is access it from work and keep an eye on him. I can now see if he RG's in his cage and cruise home to try and get it stopped and get him in his chair.

Also - I get to see how much fun he has in his cage with his toys - so it isn't all bad. I also get to see if he is full of energy and will know that he will bother me all night long to play. Puppies!!! Luckily he sleeps with his head at the front of the cage where we have it elevated to stop stomach acid from irritating his esophagus so it is easy to see what he is doing.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Our Routine and Treatment for Megaesophagus

So - what is life like with Sidney the Megaesophagus Puppy?

First, his treatment for Megaesophagus. He gets 3 meals a day. That's the most we could handle with our schedule. My family helped me build a feeding chair named a "Bailey" Chair. This is an invention by a family of a ME dog named, you guessed it, Bailey. They are kind enough to send you an instruction DVD on how to build the chair and what they do to manage their dog's condition. What this does is keep Sidney in the vertical begging position for feeding and his 30 minutes of wait time after his feeding to allow gravity to get the food down into his tummy.

Thirty minutes is a long time, I agree. It took quite a while having to sit with him while he was in the chair and keep him calm. We would smear some honey on the side of the chair for him to lick to get him to always associate good things with his chair. He is pretty good at just chilling out in the chair now without constant supervision, which is a huge burden lifted.

We created a meal that crams as many calories into it as possible. So we add instant oatmeal, fish oil and puppy weaning formula to his food and blend it in our Magic Bullet to milkshake consistency. Looks like barf, but he loves it.

To keep him hydrated, we make Knox Blox - which are basically Jell-O cubes we feed him in his chair after he eats. For treats, we made the Frosty Paws recipe we also let him lick in his chair. Plus there is about a cup or so of water in his food to blend it, which also keeps him hydrated. He cannot drink water like a non-ME dog.

We decided to use a few meds to help him out. First is Metachlopromide, which is to help him digest his food much faster than normal to avoid it sliding back up into his esophagus and eventually onto our carpet or couch. He gets this in liquid form - 2.5ml 30 minutes before every meal. We let him sit next to us on the couch for 5 minutes after he gets it so it finds it's way into his tummy. He's used to sitting upright like a person I guess.

Second is something called Sucralfate, which we use to "coat" his esophagus and kind of act as a coated Band-Aid to help when it is irritated to possibly avoid more RG episodes. We use 1/2 a pill diluted in 6ml of water and feed it to him in a little squeeze syringe. He HATES this one - and I find myself chasing him around the house for 10 minutes before I catch him to deliver the meds.

Then at night with his evening meal he gets a tablet of Prilosec OTC to try and help avoid his stomach acid irritating his esophagus and more RG while he's sleeping at night.

Don't get me wrong - there is no perfect way to avoid RG episodes - in fact it happens more often than not. We have good days and bad days, but most of what he RG's is crap he ate off the ground or stomach acid - most of his food, if not all gets digested!!!

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Here is his daily schedule:

7am - MORNING MEDICINE: Gets 2.5ml of liquid Metachlopromide 30 minutes before his meal – He needs to be held vertical for 5 minutes after he gets it

7:30am - MORNING MEAL: Bailey Chair for 30 minutes
• ½ Cup of Dried Eukanuba Kibble Soaked in ½ cup of HOT water and 1 TBSP of Olive Oil (I soak it in HOT WATER right after he gets his medicine and sometimes you need to add more water – HOT WATER so is softens food)
• ½ Cup of Eukanuba Canned Food – Chicken and Gravy Puppy Food
• 1 TBSP of Oatmeal and 1 TBSP of Eukanuba Puppy Weaning Formula
• ½ - 1 cup of additional water

12pm - AFTERNOON MEDICINE: Gets a half tab of Sucralfate diluted in 6cc of water – shake vigorously and give him small bursts so he swallows without choking
• NEEDS it 2 hours after eating or 1 hour before anything else to ensure it coats the esophagus – only needs held up for 1 – 2 minutes after

5pm - AFTERNOON MEDICINE: Gets 2.5ml of liquid Metachlopromide 30 minutes before his meal – He needs to be held vertical for 5 minutes after he gets it

5:30pm - AFTERNOON MEAL: Bailey Chair for 30 minutes
• ½ Cup of Dried Eukanuba Kibble Soaked in ½ cup of HOT water and 1 TBSP of Olive Oil (I soak it in HOT WATER right after he gets his medicine and sometimes you need to add more water – HOT WATER so is softens food)
• ½ Cup of Eukanuba Canned Food – Chicken and Gravy Puppy Food
• 1 TBSP of Oatmeal and 1 TBSP of Eukanuba Puppy Weaning Formula
• ½ - 1 cup of additional water

7:30pm - EVENING MEDICINE (as needed): Gets a half tab of Sucralfate diluted in 6cc of water – shake vigorously and give him small bursts so he swallows without choking
• NEEDS it 2 hours after eating or 1 hour before anything else to ensure it coats the esophagus – only needs held up for 1 – 2 minutes after

9pm - EVENING MEDICINE: Gets 2.5ml of liquid Metachlopromide 30 minutes before his meal – He needs to be held vertical for 5 minutes after he gets it

9:30pm - EVENING MEAL: Bailey Chair for 30 minutes
• ½ Cup of Dried Eukanuba Kibble Soaked in ½ cup of HOT water and 1 TBSP of Olive Oil (I soak it in HOT WATER right after he gets his medicine and sometimes you need to add more water – HOT WATER so is softens food)
• ½ Cup of Eukanuba Canned Food – Chicken and Gravy Puppy Food
• 1 TBSP of Oatmeal and 1 TBSP of Eukanuba Puppy Weaning Formula
• ½ - 1 cup of additional water
• 1 tablet of Prilosec with food

What is Megaesophagus?

So what is Congenital Megaesophagus in dogs? Basically, it is loss of motility of the esophagus, which is a tube of smooth muscle that connects the mouth to the stomach. If you are interested in some fancy, medical description - I found the below actual description online:

"The esophagus is the tube connecting the throat to the stomach. When food is perceived in the esophagus, a neurologic reflex causing sequential muscle contraction and relaxation leads to rapid transport of the food into the stomach, like an elevator going down. Other reflexes prevent breathing during this swallowing process to protect the lungs from aspiration. When these reflexes are interrupted such as by disease in the esophageal tissue or nerve disease, the esophagus loses its ability to transport food. Instead the esophagus loses all tone and dilates. Also, the reflex protecting the lung is disrupted and aspiration pneumonia commonly follows."

Sidney has Congenital Megaesophagus. In Sidney's case the condition was present from birth and presumably there is a genetic basis or it is a birth/developmental defect. The other form is called Acquired Megaesophagus, which happens to dogs later in life. I've read there are two treatable conditions that can lead to Acquired Megaesophagus - hypothyroidism and myasthenia gravis, both of which Sid does not have.

There is no answer to why Congenital Megaesophagus exists or what causes it, if so, we don't know what it is. There are some causes such as a Vascular Ring Anomaly, which Sid didn't have so I don't know much about it - but all the info on this is on the Yahoo Support Site.

The main causes of death are malnutrition and aspiration pneumonia. The malnutrition results from the food never getting to the small intestine for absorption. The aspiration pneumonia results from inhaling small amounts of the regurgitated 'stuff.' Sidney had Aspiration Pneumonia once already - but seems to have recovered well. This is the scariest part of the condition for us.

General recommendations are to have the dog sit in a vertical position for 30 minutes after each meal, to feed multiple small meals and make the meals in the consistency of gruel. Some people feed meatballs to their dogs if they aren't chewers, but my lab will chew anything he sees, so we went for the gruel route.

Basically - the disease/condition affects everything he eats. He cannot have any solid food, treats, etc. And what he does have he must stay vertical for 30 minutes. Fun training a lab puppy with no treats and stopping him from eating sticks and mud outside!!

Introduction - Our Puppy with Canine Congenital Megaesophagus

First, let me introduce you to Sidney - our happy little Chocolate Labrador puppy. He was born on 9/26/2009.

Sidney has congenital megaesophagus and has had it since he was born, but we didn't figure out the actual diagnosis until 12/7/2009.
At first, when we brought him home he would regurgitate (for sake of typing throughout the blog I'll just refer to it as RG) his food in big, undigested blobs. He spent several days and nights at the vet while we were trying to figure out what was wrong. He was dehydrated and underweight. One afternoon he must have RG'd at least 10-15 times in one hour - so I rushed him to the vet and they kept him there and did what they call a Barium Swallow test - to see the shape of his esophagus and called me into the room to give me the bad news. The basic diagnosis is that the guy will not live very long and dogs with this condition really don't have a great chance of success.

Unwilling to let Sidney suffer and die, we searched the internet for information about this disorder and luckily found a Yahoo Support Group that, in my opinion, saved his life. So anyone reading this that has a dog diagnosed with megaesophagus, please go to:


Knowing how panicked, scared and sad we were about losing Sidney, I decided to start this blog about our experiences with this condition to prove to everyone out there that megaesophagus is NOT A DEATH SENTENCE. I read a quote from an ME dog parent that I loved:

"Our dogs do not die from megaesophagus, they die of old age with megaesophagus."

Every dog is different and the routine and food and medicine depends on trial and error for your dog, but I will update his current progress and explain what we do and how we do it. Thanks for reading and we hope this information will help someone else with their pet.

UPDATE: 5/11/2010: It has now been 5 months since the diagnosis and he started at 14 pounds. He now weighs 40 pounds and counting.