DISCLAIMER: The below ideas and information are from individuals over the years who have had ME dogs and needed to use some different, more creative methods pending their dogs’ situation. These in no way reflect suggestions and recommendations for you to use. ALWAYS discuss your full management with your veterinarian so your proper ME protocol is tailored specifically to your dog and its needs.
General feeding info and ideas:
“The reason why the feeding mantra for dogs with megaesophagus is no pieces or particles is that these do attach themselves at times to the esophageal mucosa, or get into a fold or “pouching” of the misshapen, enlarged esophagus. Remember, there are as many configurations of deformed esophaguses as there are dogs with megaesophagus, most likely. And unless you have a dog with probably undiagnosed partial peristalsis (usually in the lower esophagus), it is an invitation to disaster at some point to feed anything that isn’t smooth, blended liquefied food, or meatballs swallowed WHOLE. If you have tried other consistencies and are currently managing OK with them, great! Your dog is an exception, and we are happy for it. But it is risky for other dogs to eat that other than the two “cleanest” ways. Now or at some point you are courting regurgitation and aspiration, and for that reason, we do not recommend it. And if you are feeding soaked kibble, chunks of food, or your dog chews RMBs (wonderful, raw diet), be aware if you do see increased regurgitation that here is your most likely reason. I am a big fan of raw feeding, but not for dogs with megaesophagus. Again, we have a few who can manage with it. I won’t argue with success, but I also won’t recommend even trying something that holds such a high risk for our dogs, unless you don’t have much other choice.”
What to feed your ME dog:
– You want a nutritionally balanced, calorie dense, low volume food!
– We use Hills Science Diet Adult Advanced Fitness (1 to 6 years) (mostly the Gourmet Turkey due to consistency for small meat wedges we make) at the suggestion of our doctors because they knew Sonnig would eat this with no allergic or regurg/diarrhea reactions
– If you can’t achieve vertical position during and after eating, you may have to reduce the amount of food per meal and increase the number of feedings per day
Getting creative with feeding positions:
– We feed without use of a chair, but upright utilizing ourselves, the bed and an ottoman
– In the corner of a sofa propped up with cushions
– When we built his Bailey chair, we put a low seat in it to mimic how he sits on a step. With this though, there is absolutely no weight on his legs or knees — it is all on his butt just like a human’s weight would be. The back wall of his Bailey chair is also open near his butt for his tail to go out the back — he doesn’t sit on
– When her muscles were too weak to keep her upright (before the MG was diagnosed and meds were started) for the needed periods of time, I rigged up an inclined bed for her. This was not as effective as keeping her sitting after meals but it was better than having her lie flat.
1. If you have a reclining chair, push it back and have her lay on the upper portion.
2. Using any stiff, flat surface like a card table, or ironing board or plywood, prop it up at the highest angle that you think your dog can tolerate, then have her lay on it.
3. Pile cushions up on a slope from the top of a high-armed sofa to its seat (remove the seat cushion to get more of an angle) forming a “ramp”, get her to lie head and shoulders up. (It is not just her head that must be up but the whole length of her esophagus so that gravity can slide the food, water or medications to
– Put her in a baby carrier on your back (or a front carrier) for the time after feedings? I think that would re-distribute her weight a bit and keep her upright.
– Rig up a little traction type of “lift” to help keep him straight upright in his sit, by using a K9 Floatcoat for support, with a cable on a clip, attached to the ring on the back of the coat at about the withers, and hook it to an “eye” or ring tethered to a stud in the wall behind and slightly about him.
Some owners have issues with their ME babies making a mess while they’re eating in their Bailey chairs… my Abby gets a milkshake-consistency food that I make in the blender, and so it’s a bit messy for her to eat. I pull her ears (she’s a cocker spaniel) up in a scrunchie, but having her paws resting on the “table” of her chair, she gets the food all over her paws. Just wondering if anyone has come up with any creative way around this. I’ve tried paper towels under the bowl but over her paws, and the bowl ends up getting flipped onto the floor. So, all I’ve come up with is to wash her front legs daily.
Slowing down their eating:
– Tennis ball in bowl
– Slow feed bowl
– Hand feed using spatula, spoon, etc
– Separated or partitioned dog food bowls
– Breakfast bowl