What is regurg:
Dogs with megaesophagus don’t “vomit” – unless there is something else expelling food FROM THE STOMACH – but with megaesophagus, it never GOT to the stomach. These dogs “urp” stuff from the esophagus. That is regurgitation. Pro-motility drugs move food down from the stomach, and since we’re gravity-feeding, that helps to drain the esophagus.
One other comment — Soaking dry food isn’t usually a good idea, unless you are going to blend it smooth in an electric blender. Soaked “kibble” breaks up into pieces. Pieces and small particles, chunks and the like are the enemy of a dog with no peristalsis above the stomach. They cling to esophageal lining, create mucus and irritation, and ferment. I won’t argue if it’s working meticulously for now, but do consider switching either to meatball format (swallowed WHOLE!) or blended, liquefied food. The latter keeps most dogs fully hydrated and allows them to be in multi-dog households where other dogs’ water bowls could be horrific for them. About half of the dogs with megaesophagus require blended food. Some can do either. And most of the rest require meatballs or can do like you are doing – for awhile.
What to do when dog is regurging:
If a dog is regurgitating, it should be left to do what it needs to do, with your reassurances and standing by. Make sure that he or she doesn’t “reclaim it” (eat it back up), and if the incident is a lot of food, water, or any type of stuff, don’t feed again for about two hours to make sure the dog is comfortable again. Follow the incident with some Pepcid or Sucralfate, as appropriate, to cut down on esophagitis. But do so with the dog in a vertical position, followed by a small amount of liquid as something to wash it down with. AND REMEMBER THAT THE DOG SHOULD HAVE SOMEONE IN ATTENDANCE FOR THE FOLLOWING SEVERAL HOURS TO CHECK FOR ANY RESPIRATORY ISSUES! Usually at least bronchial irritation follows a nasty regurgitation episode, and that often requires administration of a course of appropriate antibiotics in a TIMELY manner. You should take the dog to her DVM also.
I don’t know if anyone has suggested it to you yet, but maybe you should try the triple treatment for whatever Dr. Kathy is calling it these days but is described in the files as H. Pylori. When you say he regurged that many times it pops immediately to my mind because Pixie would do that and that treatment is what got her on the straight and narrow.
Generally, when a dog looks like he is either going to vomit, or going to regurgitate, he should be let down on all four paws to work it out in his own way. (Except not to eat back up anything that came up.)If you just hear a little hacking, you use your judgment. But I strongly believe that when your dog is “telling you” that something isn’t staying down, help him to get it back up by releasing him and letting him do whatever he is comfortable with.
The first thing I think of when a dog has an unexplainable increase in regurgitation is a bacterial overgrowth, such as helicobacter pylori. It is easily treatable – your DVM should know the three medications. It is not necessary to test for the organism – if the treatment cuts back on the sudden marked increase in regurgitation after a few days, you have your answer. And in many dogs that has had mega-e a little while, we see this fairly often. Other possibilities include further enlargement of the esophagus, etc. If you haven’t been getting her in a vertical position to eat or drink, and keeping her there for about 15 mins – also feeding her is an amount and type of format suitable for a dog with mega-e, that will add to the problem, too. Building her a feeding chair will help considerably. See my post in the Files section about regurgitation. I have had this happen with Olivia several times….when I was feeding anything too liquid…either slurry or milkshake. And it is VERY scary….it sounds like she is choking up her lungs. The food would seem to get caught up in the perpetual slime in her throat and come back up several times as a big bolus of food encased in slime before finally coming out….all over her and the chair and sometimes me. I am certain that this contributes to aspiration because she is sitting upright and cannot even bend forward to get it out. And she would choke it up and swallow it again….and choke it up and swallow again…..repeatedly, until it finally came up. So, if I saw the regurge starting, I finally just let her out of the chair so she could get it out without choking on it .. But since we switched back to meatballs which are denser and heavier, this has not happened once. The heavier meatballs seem to fall into the stomach without getting caught up in the slime. If he starts to do it a lot, you might try a different consistency. If it is just occasional, you might try slowing down the feeding, burping him or patting his chest or massaging the throat in case he is just developing a “back up” in the esophagus.