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.