MEGA Tip of the Week 

June 1, 2020


 

Fluctuations


Has the daily regimen that you developed over time for your dog with Megaesophagus suddenly stopped working? Sometimes fluctuations happen.


Maybe it is a change in the weather that has caused it or there could be some other temporary cause. Maybe their esophagus previously had some elasticity but now that is changing. Or, sometimes our dogs with Megaesophagus just go through an unexplainable change. 


Back track through your daily routine and check the major maintenance points:


1. Do you need to try a different food consistency?

2. Maybe a different type or brand of food? (Not all but many dogs with Megaesophagus need low fat food.)

3. Do you need to speak with the veterinarian regarding acid reducers and / or inhibitors? Some dogs need one of each. Roxie’s protocol included Famotidine with the morning meal and Omeprazole with her bedtime snack.

4. Is someone else feeding one or more of the meals now? Maybe they are not familiar with the exact routine. (Over the years I’ve heard of more than one well meaning family member or friend that would include a dog biscuit or piece of whole people food as a special treat, not knowing it would not propel through the esophagus even with vertical feeding.)

5. Is you dog out more now because the weather is nicer and they’re cleaning up the yard?

We suggest checking these points first. If you would like a second set of eyes to look through your dog’s regimen, we are always here to help with suggestions. 


As with many of the management options for Megaesophagus, they may or may not work with your dog. However, over the years, those that will be mentioned here have been suggested and utilized with success by many. We suggest that you discuss this with your veterinarian and explain your specific needs and circumstances. 


Have a great week!








MEGA Tip of the Week 

May 25 2020


Summer Heat 


Now that some areas of the U.S. have experienced summer heat, you may have noticed an increase in regurgitation with your MEGA dog. While I love summer, I soon learned with Roxie’s care that summer could bring a few changes in her management plan. 


Increased heat can bring about increased “panting” with your dog. (Dogs can’t deal with heat as well as animals that can sweat.) Increased “panting” will increase the amount of saliva they produce which can then pool in their esophagus. And, without a working esophagus, the extra saliva will then cause regurgitation. 


To help manage the natural effect of summer heat, keep your dog as cool as possible. You may also want to provide extra hydration and vertical sit time as this will help the saliva move through the esophagus. Or, if the saliva is extremely heavy, possibly a small snack of the food consistency that works for them while sitting in the vertical position. You might also need the “pro-collar” that has been mentioned here previously. (Send us a note or email if you need information on the pro-collar and help with obtaining one.) 


As with many of the management options for Megaesophagus, they may or may not work with your dog. However, over the years, those that will be mentioned here have been suggested and utilized with success by many. We suggest that you discuss them with your veterinarian.



MEGA Tip of the Week 

May 18, 2020


Meal Timing 


Most dogs with Megaesophagus need smaller meals thus requiring that they eat more often. With Megaesophagus, it helps if the stomach is not over full, thus creating more issues with acid reflux and regurgitation. I like to think of it as: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, just as most people function better with those meals. 


In addition to smaller, more frequent meals, it can also help to keep a routine schedule for the meals. Roxie’s schedule was 8 a.m., noon, 5 p.m. and a 10 p.m. “snack” before bedtime. * I found that once I started the day with her first meal, I could only alter a meal by an hour either before or after the “scheduled” time. If I pushed it further than that, she regurgitated. I do not know if she just became upset or if the emptiness in her stomach caused the issue. On those occasions where I was out on an errand longer than expected or we were traveling and it was not possible to stop yet for a meal, she was consistent – she regurgitated. Since eating that fluid can also cause aspiration pneumonia, I tried extremely hard to not alter the schedule. 


*Note: There are some dogs who need a small amount of food in their stomach to keep from regurgitating overnight. That was the case with Roxie, determined by experimentation. Once we had a routine where she was regurgitation free during the day, we problem solved to determine what would help her through the night. The 10 p.m. “snack” noted above solved the issue.

We realize that the increased number of meals may not be possible for everyone. Over the years we have worked with those who cannot feed a lunch time meal due to work. Some dogs do well with 2 meals a day. Some have been fortunate to be able to enlist the help of a family member, neighbor, or dog sitter. Life is not perfect, and we do what we can within our schedules. These are just tips to help you problem solve and develop your dog’s regimen. 


As with many of the management options for Megaesophagus, they may or may not work with your dog. However, over the years, those that will be mentioned here have been suggested and utilized with success by many. We suggest that you discuss them with your veterinarian.


Have a good week!



MEGA Tip of the Week 

May 11, 2020


Exercise 


During the past 12 years, we have often been asked if exercise would harm a dog with Megaesophagus. 


Since Roxie had lost 30% of her body weight within two weeks, she was very weak the first few months. However, I realized that she was becoming depressed as she had enjoyed an active life prior to the onset of Megaesophagus. So, I started with short dog walks. And, I mean short – to the end of the driveway and back. I increased the distance in very tiny increments. She was so happy to get out of the house which, of course, made me happy too. As the story goes, five months post diagnosis she ran in the 2008 national agility competition. Her return to the activity she loved truly gave her the will to live and she became stronger each time she ran. 


Over the past 12 years, dogs with Megaesophagus have competed in obedience, rally, weight pull, agility, conformation, and many other performance events. Jake, a Labrador retriever, was an active hunter with his dad. Please note: swimming requires extra caution as you need to guard against the dog swallowing water; which could lead to aspiration pneumonia. The basic concern, both inside and outside the house, with or without activity, is to guard against anything that your dog might ingest. 


Thus, once you have developed a maintenance plan for your dog with this condition, they should be able to live a quality life with basic exercise. (Obviously, if your dog develops an issue while exercising, you will need review your plan and revise the activity.) But, as one caller said to me, “I just want Rover to be able to play fetch again in the back yard.” That should be attainable! 


As with many of the management options for Megaesophagus, they may or may not work with your dog. However, over the years, those that will be mentioned here have been suggested and utilized with success by many. We suggest that you discuss them with your veterinarian.


Have a good week!



MEGA Tip of the Week 

May 4, 2020


Beware of Self-Appointed Experts


This obviously applies to life in general, not just Megaesophagus. It is something that most of us have encountered by our early adult years. However, when we are dealing with something uncommon, like Megaesophagus, we may forget that not everyone “out there” is equal in their expertise. As with other topics in life, there are even those who have never dealt with this condition that are advising others. Sad to say, the advice can cause a negative impact on our canines with Megaesophagus. 


So, just a reminder: Do your research. It could mean the difference between saving your dog’s life or unintentionally harming it. 


As with many of the management options for Megaesophagus, they may or may not work with your dog. We suggest that you discuss them with your veterinarian and consider what is best for your dog.


Have a good week!



MEGA Tip of the Week 

April 27, 2020


Safe Travels: 

While we're not traveling at the moment, now is good time to prepare for the day when we can be "out and about" again. Thus the following thoughts: 


Since Roxie and I traveled so much for agility, I started to think about “what would happen if we were in an accident and I became unconscious?” The first responders might try to feed her treats or if need be, have her taken to a boarding facility if I were transported to a hospital. And, who there would know that she had Megaesophagus? 


Thus, I prepared a note that I attached in more than one location in the vehicle. It stated: 


A. She was a special needs dog with a condition called Megaesophagus.

B. Do NOT feed her anything without calling the emergency contacts.

C. Three emergency contact phone numbers were listed. These were people who had knowledge on how to care for her condition.

D. Her “feeding chair” must be taken with her from the car. 


The bottom of the note stated that if she were not cared for by trained individuals, she would most likely die. (I didn’t give the details but, of course, I meant die from aspiration pneumonia.)

Obviously, this would not guarantee that my instructions were followed. However, it certainly gave her a better chance of survival than if I had not taken the time to prepare the note.

If you travel with your dog in a kennel cab / crate, you could attach a laminated note there for high visibility. 


Another good idea might be a medical alert tag for your dog’s collar, engraved with Megaesophagus. Or, there are collars/harnesses that can be stitched with names so why not have a medical alert message instead? 


As with many of the management options for Megaesophagus, they may or may not work with your dog. However, over the years, those that will be mentioned here have been suggested and utilized with success by many. We suggest that you discuss them with your veterinarian.