IMPORTANT: This was specifically what we learned with our beloved ME GSD Sonnig who was diagnosed at 8 1/2 years old and lived another 3 1/2 years of great quality of life prior to passing away from cancer. Each ME dog is different so no one protocol will be exactly alike for another ME dog. She was also one of the rare ME dogs who could drink water in its normal state, but only while we were with her to make sure she remained upright afterwards for 1-2 minutes so it emptied. Again, what worked for her isn’t true for all these dogs so takes learning what works for your dog then being as educated as possible if you need to make changes to your plan.
NOTE: We feed Sonnig 3 times/day. Mike assessed the amount of food by calculating protein, fat, carbs, etc. compared to the food she was taking in before Mega-E was diagnosed. We have actually upped the food amount because she is so active and we want to continue her weight. We have also, at suggestion of our doctors, kept her on the same canned food (no kibble or snacks) so we don’t experiment with something that could cause adverse reaction.
1. Give no water prior to feeding
2. Have her go to the bathroom (not play) before – take your time so not stressed or hyped up with energy
3. Prepare food – place food in bowl and add a little water at the bottom
NOTE: Per doctors recommendation, we give 1 Pepsid tablet at morning and 1 at nighttime feeding.
NOTE: We make containers of food usually 2 in advance of 3 per day feeding. That is placed in the microwave for 38 seconds, so not too cold from refrigerator. We do not need to make neat, round balls of the food, but do make the size about ½ a normal teaspoon rounded. She is around 70 pounds and only eats Hill’s Science Diet canned food with measured amounts. Per day, we use 4 small cans and 2 large + whole egg/egg beaters scrambled at dinner with her canned food on most evenings.
4. Control time feeding her (handing her the food) – we take at least 6 to 8 minutes and listen for swallowing or observe any need to take more time with individual bites
5. Use a flatter pillow on the floor so she can move around easier or change direction if wanted, but always keeping her upright…see video
6. Watch for contact or pressure on her stomach area with leg or knee as this could affect food flow
7. Listen for periodic “gurgling” or other sounds that indicate movement of food through correct channels and don’t be surprised or panic if some rather loud noises are heard
NOTE: We do not allow her to eat directly from the bowl. She is a very aggressive eater and would inhale too fast. We also do not allow her to drink the water at the bottom as observed the mixture of that with the tiny bits of food can cause I little more gurgling than we want.
8. Keep her quiet and concentrated on her position for the full 10 minutes afterwards by quietly talking, hugging, petting her and providing a few “turkey teets” (we dip our finger in the leftover water and let her lick it off our finger tip – both dogs are used to these words as they still get small peanut butter “teets” as they have their whole life)
9. When time is up, slowly and quietly lower her front legs to the floor
10. Right afterwards, take her outside for about 2-3 minutes to pottie or just walk around
11. Keep water withheld for another 15 minutes
NOTE: We keep the water bowl set up in our master bedroom walk in closet, so just close the door 15 minutes prior and leave it shut until later.
12. Get plenty of play/run time inside and out – we throw a tennis ball several times a day to both dogs and they play hard when indoors with chase each other, stuffed toys and us; time with us also means they are in bed sleeping with us or lying on the couch while we watch TV, etc.
13. Brush her teeth every night because she is only getting soft food and has no hard kibble or chews to help with tartar control
We are so fortunate that Sonnig has learned this process quickly and is highly successful though almost 9 years old. She knows the 10 minute timeframe almost to the minute and though sometimes needs a good chin rub or a few more turkey teets to remain upright, does so easily. Our doctors are amazed at our method and also have the video to share with whomever, but for them to help us with further changes or modifications if/when they become necessary.
IMPORTANT: The final part of our system is training someone to be able to feed both dogs themselves if something happens to both of us. Since we have no family within 1200 miles, we have designated and will compensate a specific designee per our Will to take the dogs immediately if there is an emergency where both of us are out of commission.
We are also training one of our vet techs who happens to live close enough to actually be able to feed her himself using our process just in case. He successfully did this last Friday, so we feel fully prepared.
The final piece will involve a change to our Will per our lawyer’s advice stipulating instant financial arrangements in case we both die at once. This way, both dogs are not only placed immediately with someone we know and will care for them as we do, but someone who 1) Knows our dogs well and 2) The dogs are comfortable with that person feeding Sonnig with our same process.
We both carry laminated cards with our driver’s licenses providing emergency plan and contact info just for this reason. We hope never to have to invoke the plan, but feel comfortable knowing our babies would be provided the best chance available to maintain the rest of their lives together.