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  1. Pit with Megaesophagus? Anyone else?

    Hi everyone,

    I adopted my pit bull from the local animal shelter about a year ago. They were feeding whatever food they got via donation, and whatever other cheap stuff in between. They informed me that she often regurgitated part of her food after eating, but that she wasn't having trouble keeping weight, and that their vets couldn't find any reason for the regurgitation.

    When I got her home, I started her on evo, but had problems with her stool being soft. We changed her over to Blue Buffalo Wilderness, and that problem resolved almost overnight. As the shelter stated, after almost every meal, she would regurgitate about 15-20 kibbles in a puddle of saliva. It wasn't vomiting, as there was no wretching or bile in the "product".

    So off to my vet we went. Vet said her symptoms sounded like classic megaesophagus. An x-ray later, and voila, my dog has a giant esophagus. Basically, when she eats (particularly, when she eats too quickly), her food gets trapped in her esophagus and all of it doesn't reach her stomach right away. The vet said it was a good sign that she was able to keep weight on, as a lot of dogs with this problem are difficult to keep in good condition due to malnutrition. We discussed some strategies to try as far as feeding goes (liquid diet, Bailey chairs, elevated feeders, several small meals per day, etc), and we went home to try out a few different things.

    Wet food didn't help- not only did the regurgitation continue, it increased in volume, and was a lot more disgusting to clean up (cleaning up 15-20 undigested kibble vs. cleaning up a sopping pile of warm wet food...). What seems to work best for her is an elevated feeding position, and water added to her dry kibble to slow her eating down. Since implementing these changes, she's down to regurgitating only about 2-3 times per week instead of 2 times per day. She's also picked up about 5 lbs since I got her a year ago, which is a good thing, as she was a seizure due to neglect case that came into the shelter weighing 27lbs (she's now between 48 and 50lbs).

    Does anyone else have/know a dog with this condition? It seems like management protocol varies dramatically dog to dog, and I'd be curious to hear about techniques others have used to improve their dogs' overall health and well-being!!

  2. #2
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    Bumping this for you - it sounds like you and your vet are on the right track. Personally, I have only come close to this by virtue of a ruled out d/x of megaesophagus for our dog Trusty.

    One question I do have fo you: are there surgical options?

  3. Quote Originally Posted by Madeleinemom View Post
    Bumping this for you - it sounds like you and your vet are on the right track. Personally, I have only come close to this by virtue of a ruled out d/x of megaesophagus for our dog Trusty.

    One question I do have fo you: are there surgical options?
    I am not sure if there are surgical options or not, to be honest, but I don't think there are, as I haven't come across any mentioned as treatment in my research on the condition. At this point, it seems we are one of the "lucky few" dealing with megaesophagus, as many dogs suffering from it literally starve. Because Molly only regurgitates a small portion of her food, she doesn't seem much worse for wear. Here she is, for reference:
    Click image for larger version. 

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    The major concern for her at this point is aspiration pneumonia, which as far as I understand, occurs if she regurgitates and inhales any of it. I make sure to monitor her for any signs of this (like labored breathing, fever, coughing, etc.), but so far so good. Luckily, she seems to regurgitate almost immediately after eating, so isn't in a laying down position when it happens, which would increase the risk of aspiration occurring.

  4. #4
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    You may want to try posting on a German Shepherd forum or searching on a GSD forum. That breed seems to have this problem a lot, and they'd have some personal experience to share with you.

    I had it years and years ago with my GSD.. and my vet told us that she would just die slowly on her own (I know better now, unfortunately) and it was kindest to put her down.

  5. Quote Originally Posted by Poisoned View Post
    I had it years and years ago with my GSD.. and my vet told us that she would just die slowly on her own (I know better now, unfortunately) and it was kindest to put her down.
    This is what my vet said is the case with most megaesophagus dogs. I am so grateful that Molly is a manageable case, and has been able to pick up weight and keep it on... We're working hard to keep her happy and healthy. I'm so sorry about your GSD- I cannot imagine having to put Molly to sleep for something like this... Thanks for the tip about the GSD forums- I will most certainly look into that!

  6. #6
    When I worked at the vet, we had a client with a golden retriever with bad megaesophagus. she had a special "chair" built for him where he would sit, then put his front feet up on a bar to keep him in a "sitting up" position. it was basically a tall wooden box with no top and no front that had a removable padded bar (was also padded in the bottom) that went across the open front near the top (wish i had a pic). then she hand fed him canned food one mouthful at a time to slow down his eating. after he was done eating his meal, she made him continue to sit in the chair for 5-10 minutes to give the food plenty of time to work it's way into the stomach. the soft food went down better and of course the slow eating and upright position helped a lot. she's made it several years now with him not throwing up (unless he's stressed out about something). hope this helps?

  7. #7
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    My friends mom has a pit bull/mix with megaesophagus. She feeds him smaller meals, always mixed with some wet food&watered down so it is more mushy. She holds it up for him so that he is in a better position to eat it & for it to go down correctly. He also gets absolutely no edible bones or treats really other than his food. He is on medication ( I am not sure what it is though ) and at some points has been dangerously thin because of not getting enough nutrients. He also loses a lot of hair... it has been a tough battle for them but he is just about a year old now and finally putting on some weight! I know how hard it is from talking to her about it, sorry I couldn't offer you much advice but I do wish you the best of luck!

    ---------- Post added at 05:00 PM ---------- Previous post was at 04:57 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by ElJayBee View Post
    When I worked at the vet, we had a client with a golden retriever with bad megaesophagus. she had a special "chair" built for him where he would sit, then put his front feet up on a bar to keep him in a "sitting up" position. it was basically a tall wooden box with no top and no front that had a removable padded bar (was also padded in the bottom) that went across the open front near the top (wish i had a pic). then she hand fed him canned food one mouthful at a time to slow down his eating. after he was done eating his meal, she made him continue to sit in the chair for 5-10 minutes to give the food plenty of time to work it's way into the stomach. the soft food went down better and of course the slow eating and upright position helped a lot. she's made it several years now with him not throwing up (unless he's stressed out about something). hope this helps?
    The bailey chair is I think what you are talking about.. I did find a video of it online..

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