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

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

Click on the video below to view.

11pm Newscast - WKYC Channel 3
Click to view story on the WKYC News Channel web site.

6am Newscast - WKYC Channel 3 
Click to view video on WKYC News web site

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.

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.

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.

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.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sucralfate for Megaesophagus

Last night Sidney woke me up around 1:30am. I could tell he wasn't feeling well. Recently when he is gonna regurgitate he makes these weird swallowing sounds. Kind of like gulps. Then he sits up as straight as he can and looks kind of sad. I have no idea why this happens sometimes, it just does and it breaks my heart. So he regurgitated his dinner meal on the carpet and I cleaned it all up. I decided to try using Sucralfate to try and soothe his esophagus. In the beginning, we used to administer this every day. Now we just turn to it when it seems he is sick and his esophagus may be irritated. Plus, he absolutely HATES it. Even though he hasn't had it in a while, he remembers the little medicine squirter and runs at the sight of it.
Anyways, the Sucralfate essentially is used to act as a coating or "Band-Aid" for his esophagus to help soothe it when it is irritated. I know it must be administered an hour before or two hours after any other medication or food as it can bind with other medications preventing them from working properly or bind with food potentially causing a blockage. What we do is dilute 1/2 a pill in 6ml of water. We have a medicine squirter (not sure the technical term) and once it is dissolved we shake it vigorously. We then give it to Sidney in small squirts until it is all gone. Most people say that they need to be horizontal for this, which seems to defy most of the advice to avoid Aspiration Pneumonia. So after I give it to Sid, I hold him vertical for about a minute to be safe.
It seemed to work for him last night. I laid on the couch with him the rest of the night and he seemed good. But at lunch after he ate he made those sounds again while in his Bailey Chair, so I am going to give him some more Sucralfate when I get home from work and see if that helps the little guy.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Quality of Life with Megaesophagus

I know some people are concerned about dogs with Megaesophagus having the opportunity for a good quality of life (as it is commonly referred to). I think the issue is that your dog has to sit in the Bailey Chair for 30 minutes, 3 times a day or more. Plus, they really can't be eating grass, snow, sticks (which they shouldn't anyways) and normal treats etc. Honestly, I don't think any of these things really matter. Above is a photo of Sidney from this weekend taking a trip on the boat. Notice he's smiling. He's happy as heck. And it's not because those coolers are full of beer! The rest of us are smiling about that.
Sidney doesn't need to eat any treats and other junk to be happy. We treat him like family and in return he does the same to us. We make each other happy. His life isn't about treats and eating dog food from a bowl on the ground. It's about the other 22.5 hours in the day that he isn't in his Bailey Chair. We take walks, play with toys and spend quality time together every day. If you asked me, Sidney's quality of life is pretty great, despite his Megaesophagus condition. It's rare that his tail isn't wagging. The hour and a half in the Bailey Chair isn't any more time than dogs spend sleeping during the day - which is WAY more than that.
So don't be discouraged by this condition. Outside of eating funny, Sidney is your normal, crazy and HAPPY Chocolate Lab! You just need to watch him a bit more closely, which I would do even if his esophagus wasn't broken.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Signs of Aspiration Pneumonia

Sidney has had AP once when he was first diagnosed with MegaE. Luckily, we haven't had it again yet.

There is no one, or single combination of Aspiration Pneumonia (AP).

Below are some things to watch for.

Signs of aspiration pneumonia include:

Many dogs only show one of the signs - for instance, Sidney didn't cough or have a temp, but he was refusing to eat his food. Often, when we suspect something is not quite right with Sidney, we are correct... you have to trust your gut instincts. I've read that many of these dogs have NORMAL temperatures, and, in fact, normal blood counts (not all, obviously). And, most "sound" okay when the Vet listens with a stethoscope.

The ONLY way to definitely tell is with x-rays (3 views ideal) - not just listening to the lungs which may sound clear - and you need to see a vet immediately if you suspect AP since this is ultimately the most dangerous element of Canine Megaesophagus. Additionally, to make the Vet's job a little harder, the x-ray changes may not show up for 1-3 days after the dog gets sick. So, it takes a pretty astute owner and Vet to pick up early AP.

With MegaE dogs, they are usually on antibiotics for 3-4 weeks and usually 2 different types of antibiotics (such as Baytril and Clavamox). However for us, we just had Sidney on Clavamox.

With MegaE dogs you want to hit the AP hard and fast! Not only DON'T wait until the next day; don't wait at all. Take them to an ER, if necessary.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Late Night Regurgitation

A few nights back Sidney woke me up at about 3am making swallowing sounds. Kind of like 'gulp' sounds. He jumped out of the bed and went, I assumed, in the bathroom to lay down. I kept hearing the sounds so I went in the bathroom and turned on the light and he wasn't there. He was still in the bedroom, but sitting in a tall (close to vertical) position with his back against the wall. Definitely an odd behavior.
Anyways - I carried him into the bathroom and let him stand horizontally on all fours and he finally regurgitated. It was a ton of RG. I stayed up with him the rest of the night and everything seemed fine after that.
His odd behavior made me wonder if he kind of has learned that being vertical when his esophagus is irritated or full makes him feel better. I know when he is on the couch he sits like a person with his head on the back of the couch when we think he's feeling bad. Maybe Sid is smarter than we think.
Sometimes we go weeks or a month without RG, but sometimes it happens a lot. That's the deal you sign on for with caring for a dog with Canine Megaesophagus. Which is cool with me.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Rest in Peace Bailey

I'm sorry to say that Bailey, in which the "Bailey Chair" was invented for and named after has passed away after almost 13 years living with MegaE. He was born with Congenital Megaesophagus as a puppy in 1998 and lived a long and happy life. Thank you so much Bailey and his mom Donna for the inspiration, help, and support to fight this condition. Bailey and Donna have helped save and extend the lives of thousands of ME dogs all over the world.

His legacy will live on and Sidney and I are forever grateful. Without the help of Bailey and Donna, we would not have Sidney with us today.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Summer Hydration with Knox Blox

Since it's getting hotter out - I feel like I need to keep Sidney more hydrated than in the winter. Especially after walks or trips to the dog park. Again, Sidney does not do well with water - even in his Bailey Chair. So we feed him extra Knox Blox. Of course that means he has additional sittings in his Bailey Chair than normal - but he's in there 7-10 minutes for these. It seems to work for us. Here's our recipe:

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) - Some people use Low Sodium Chicken Broth here.
QTY 2 - Tablespoons of Honey (if you do not use Chicken Broth)

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 about 10 or so when he was exercising. Kind of just feel it out based on how much he seems to be panting.

If I just give him the Knox Blox and no food, he is in his chair for about 7-10 minutes. That seems to work fine for him. I assume more time for other dogs is needed depending on the routine.

We decided recently that since this is the way we will get Sidney his hydration from now on, we decided to buy the gelatin in bulk which was WAY cheaper. Amazon sells it in bulk if you were curious about an easy place to get it.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Poor Sidney

Sidney had a rough few days, which happens from time to time with dogs that have Megaesophagus. He regurgitated quite a bit. In his crate, at night, throughout the day and also in his Bailey Chair after eating on Saturday. When that happens I usually just clean it up and instead of trying to repeat the feeding, I skip it. But I do keep him in the Bailey Chair and feed him additional Knox Blox so at least he stays hydrated. We start the sit time over again at 30 minutes.

Normally I will try to use the Sucralfate when he is having a bad period, but this time I didn't use it. I just made sure to keep a close eye on him for a few days in case he looked like he may have aspirated. It doesn't seem like he did.

Sidney was much better yesterday, we didn't have any episodes and he never lost his appetite. So hopefully that was our hiccup for now and he gets back on track.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Updated Routine Managing Sidney's Megaesophagus and Building a Bailey Chair

ABOVE: Marley in his Portable Bailey Chair I built.

Things have been going pretty well with Sidney. He have had limited RG periods, but nothing out of the ordinary. He's doing really well and is really happy. Our routine, meds and procedures seem to have Sidney on track to live a long and healthy life.

Since the last post I have built several Bailey Chairs for people in need that couldn't make them on their own. It has now become my weekend charity job. But I'm happy to help out. The above photo is Marley in the chair I built him. Happy little guy.

The only major change with Sidney is that we changed his diet slightly because we were told he was getting a little overweight.

Our new diet is:
1 Cup Eukanuba Large Breed Puppy Food (Kibble) soaked in 2 cups of hot water (it cools while soaking for 30 minutes)
1 Squirt of Salmon Oil for his coat

Blended together and fed 3 times a day in his Bailey Chair.
He sits in the Bailey Chair for 30 minutes.
We also feed him Knox Blox after his food - usually a handful (about 1 Cup)

This seems to work well for us - the main change is eliminating the Instant Oatmeal and Eukanuba Puppy Weaning Formula calories from the meal that were necessary in the puppy growth stage.

Current meds are:

5mg Bethanechol - 2x per day (30 minutes prior to the morning and evening meal)
1 tablet - Prilosec OTC - with the evening meal

All in all, hopefully it stays in the "no news is good news" category for a long time. But we always make sure we are careful looking for signs of Aspiration Pneumonia. That can just come out of nowhere, no matter how careful we are.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Canine Megaesophagus Diet and Routine - TV News Story about Sidney

One of the Cleveland News Channels did a feature story on Sidney and Congenital Megaesophagus and our diet and routine. We really appreciate them helping get out the word that Canine Megaesophagus IS NOT A DEATH SENTENCE.

Click on the video below to view them.

11pm Newscast - WKYC Channel 3
Click to Visit Story on WKYC Web Site

Monday, January 24, 2011

Sidney's Megaesophagus story was in the newspaper

Click on the above article photo TWICE to enlarge it for reading


Paste the below link into your browser to view it:

Sidney had an article in the local newspaper about his Canine Megaesophagus and his routine and diet. It's always good to get this information about ME being manageable. It's sad when I see people say that they put their dog to sleep and wish they would have found the information on how it can be managed sooner.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Great Web sites if your dog has Megaesophagus

Aside from the Yahoo MegaE Group Forum, there is a site on something called Squidoo that a woman in Seattle put together which I thought was perfect. Especially for people whose dog just got diagnosed with ME. It has Bailey Chair instructions, info on the condition, food and Knox Blox recipes and lots of links, etc.  The Facebook group has lots of people and pretty fast response to questions.  The site has good info and has success stories.

Facebook Group:

Squidoo MegaE Site:

Yahoo MegaE Site:


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Merry Christmas

It was great to have Sidney celebrate his second Christmas. Considering we didn't think he would even make his first because of his Congenital Megaesophagus doom and gloom diagnosis. But I now know we have many more together for sure, as long as I keep our routine and continue to watch for ANY sign of Aspiration Pneumonia. We did have some problems with his regurgitation over the holidays. Being so busy - we missed a few Bethanechol doses in a row. He then regurgitated the next day a few times. I do not believe in coincidences, so no matter how busy I am, I will never miss one again. It's really easy if he hasn't regurgitated in a week or so to feel the false sense of security that everything is fine. That's the scary part because you always need to keep the routine and be on watch. It's my job to keep Sidney healthy.

To be honest, I'm not sure if the Bethanechol really helps anything as far as motility, etc. But since we started using it, his bad periods are much, much less frequent. So it will continue.

Plus, we have a real Xmas tree and he did eat some of the pine needles that cover the floor. I think this is the last real tree Xmas in order to avoid any issues with Sidney.