Tag Archives: megaesophagus

MegaEsophagus. Diagnosis & Treatment

My dog Chloe has megaesophagus. She has had it a few years. We are coping with it, but it takes some effort.

Chloe has megaesophagus
Chloe as a puppy.

What is megaesophagus? Basically muscles of the esophagus lose their tone and are no longer able propel food into the stomach. So the food stays in the esophagus. Chloe has two areas of her esophagus that have enlarged, if we are not careful the food kind of sits in these areas, and does not move into her stomach. Then a little while later she will vomit all the food back up.

How was she diagnosed? It was very strange. She was fine one day and then the next day I took her to get groomed. When she came home she had her dinner and then about 10 minutes later vomited. Not normal vomiting, almost like the food just ‘poured’ back out. It was strange looking, had a mucus sort of coating over the food, and the food looked like it does in the bowl, but slightly chewed. I thought that maybe she was nervous from the grooming, so I wasnt too concerned. Next morning, same thing. And then she acted like she was starving. Typically if she has an upset tummy she wont want to eat – so I decided to go to the vet.

How do they diagnose megaesophagus? They kept her a couple hours. They took some xrays, and then wanted to watch her eat. They were pretty confident that she had megaesophagus. It is common in certain breeds. German Shepherds, Great Danes, Newfoundlands,  & Labs, which is what Chloe is. Normally it just arrives out of the blue. They told us that it doesn’t mean anything else is wrong, but she would be at risk for pneumonia, so they checked her for that.

Treatment for megaesophagus? The most helpful thing is to feed the dogs from an elevated bowl. We bought both dogs an elevated stand for their food bowls. This makes for a more direct path from mouth to stomach. When a dog is hunched over eating from the floor gravity is working against them. They wanted us to use a bailey chair, or step stool so she has her head above her body, but we found that to be too difficult for her. Our current stands work well. The other thing that you need to do is get them to stay standing after eating so the food can move into the stomach. We would have her walk around with us for 10-15 minutes after each meal. This helped a ton! Now she kind of walks herself around. I think she understands that it helps. There are antacids and a couple other medicines that help with the discomfort, but we didn’t see a difference with them, so I chose not to medicate her. I didn’t think it was helping or hurting – so why?

Other tips:

  • No bones or treats that are big, or that she will lay down to eat. I found small little treats that she can quickly eat and digest.
  • I also make her some great pumpkin oat gluten free treats.
  • Feed small amounts of food. Chloe is a snacker so this is not a problem for her, she only eats a little bit at a time. She has always been like that.
  • Bland diet if your dog is really having trouble. Periodically I have to revert to the bland diet. Boiled chicken – no spices! and rice. Or babyfood and rice. Small amounts several times a day.
  • You can add pumpkin to dry food, pumpkin is good for dog tummies. Not pumpkin pie filling, only give them pure pumpkin.

So its possible for your dog to live a normal, happy life with megaesophagus, but it takes a little work & planning site link. But doggies health and happiness are definitely worth it!

I have an older dog

Chloe, our 11 year old lab was sick the other day. It gave us a bit of a scare. She was vomiting every 20 minutes. It was so sad to watch. Nothing I could do to comfort her. After about an hour of it I called the vet. They said I should bring her in. Since she has some health issues, and is an older dog, we were a little scared.

sweet lab chloe
This is sweet Chloe cuddling with her purse

Chloe takes Rimadyl for her arthritis. I was told I should give her half a tablet daily to ‘maintain’ her comfort and for the most part that works. On days when she seems to be having trouble walking I was told I could give her an additional half tablet. Prior to the vomiting spell, I had given her the extra tablet. I thought that maybe it upset her stomach. When I told the vet that I had given the extra pill, she was even more concerned. She said that it could be toxic to her. Yikes!

So my daughter and I headed off to the vet. Chloe was excited to go for a ride. We went right after she had a vomiting spell, so I knew we had 20 minutes to get to the vet.  She normally loves the car, but she wasnt feeling well and just laid on the back seat. She whimpered a bit, which was so sad. We made it in time.

After a long wait we saw the dr. It was about 1am. She gave Chloe an exam and said that her heart and lungs are great, no masses, no blood in her stool, everything seemed normal. They wanted to take some blood to rule out other things. They gave her some fluids, an anti-nausea shot, an antacid and took her blood. The shot seemed to work, she did not vomit at all after that.

We were told to watch her carefully for the first 24 hours, withhold food and water until morning. Then feed a bland diet. I arranged to stay home with her all day the next day. Fed her small bland meals, and she started feeling better.

Results from the labwork came back normal. So that was great news! So maybe it was just something she ate, or a complication from her megaesophagus. Its now 2 days later and she was doing really well today. Appetite is back, she is moving around fine, acting normal 🙂 Crisis diverted.. Yay!

I love Chloe so much. She is the sweetest dog ever!  So glad she is ok!