Now that I am at a real computer, here the longer version of Niko’s story:

Niko is my pure bred German Shepherd Dog, who was born on November 15, 2009. (To date, he is the only puppy in the litter that had ME). Niko began to spit-up after nursing. Niko would also make a gurgle noise, after nursing. It sounded as if the milk was sloshing in his throat. He was examined by our vet and put on Clavomox and Raglan to clear up the gastric issues. The medications appeared to help, but not completely resolve the regurgitation issues, as Niko would still “gurgle” after drinking and regurgitate a small portion of food; this became even more evident when he was weaned on to kibble.

On January 4, 2010, when Niko was about 6 weeks old, My vet performed a barium-swallow X-ray study. It was then confirmed that Niko had congenital Mega esophagus. Having done some internet research to try and find the cause of Niko’s “gurgle” myself, I had already become a somewhat familiar with the condition, and the poor prognosis that usually accompanies it by Veterinarians. I was pleasantly surprised, as my vet did not give me the “gloom and doom” prognosis, but took on a “do all we can” attitude. Niko was such a happy spirited puppy, it would have been ashamed not to at least try anything we could to help him.

I learned a lot from this Yahoo group. I also found a research paper on the internet regarding a medication called Bethanechol Cholride. (a copy of it is now in the FILES section of the groups home page) Bethenechol is a medication normally used in cases where the bladder will no longer empty and lacks tone. The research study indicated Bethanechol may also be effective in improving the tone of the esophagus in dogs with ME, especially growing puppies. (it is also used in humans and some studies have been done on it’s use in children with reflux). My vet agreed that Bethanechol looked like it was our best option, and was worth giving it a try. So at 7 weeks old, Niko was put on the medication and a strict “vertical” feeding regimen of several small meals a day.

Niko would get fed 4 meals a day, consisting of ½ cup of kibble soaked in water overnight. (CAUTION: NOT A DIET THAT MOST ME DOGS CAN HANDLE…BUT PUREED FOOD DID NOT WORK FOR HIM). He would stand upright a “feeding table”, then sit upright on the couch after eating (see PHOTOS section of the Yahoo group – album named Niko- Tammy’s GSD to see Niko’s pics of this and his x-rays) I usually sat behind him to help support him when he was smaller, but as he grew he wanted to “do it on his own”….Then I would sit next to him on the couch..initially he was propped up by a pillow…but as he grew larger and larger, he would sit with his rear end on the couch and his “paws up” on the back rest. He would get 5mg of Bethanechol 1 hour before his AM and PM meals.

Over the next few months Niko symptoms reduced…by 7 months old they were gone…a second set of x-rays confirmed his ME had resolved……It doesn’t happen in lot of dogs…but I believe that strict feeding regimen, medication and maybe answered prayers worked added to his recovery. Niko just turned 2 years old Novemeber 14, 2011 and is about 100lbs of the most health, goofy and loving German Shepherd I have ever cared for…I think all the hands on care made him this he is a lap dog…lol.

(As a side note..Bethanechol study is in the FILES section on the Yahoo groups page…also I found I could get a bottle of (100) 10 mg pills at COSTCO pharmacy for around 25.00….so I just broke them in half per dose (no membership needed to use the pharmacy) …Walmart also had them for around 30.00…from their the prices went way up)

Don’t give up hope.
Tammy and Niko