Melo came to us in the spring of 2013, he was a year and a half old at the time. What was supposed to be a temporary dog sitting “job” turned out to be a lifelong companion. At his age, and given his past before I knew him, Melo required a lot of work and patience. He had zero manners inside, hated being crated, did not walk well on leash, had possessive aggression (he bit me once) but that wasn’t his fault. We were learning a lot about each other and both so confused since neither of us knew the other’s past. After a long 8 months he finally began to trust me. We figured out his problems and we worked very hard to correct them, and guess what? He’s PERFECT! Well, okay so nobody is perfect but to me he is and I wouldn’t change a thing…except for the Megaesophagus. We could do without that and be just fine. But you take what life throws at you and you either succumb to it or you conquer it. Melo and I had formed a very special bond during our time together with his rehabilitation. When he fell ill the fall of 2014, I couldn’t figure out for the life of me what was wrong with my dog! We first treated him for kennel cough since he was behaving as though that was the problem. When the medicine didn’t work to cure the kennel cough we started looking into other areas. I began my journey as the “Google Queen” and looked up each of his symptoms. Several of the possibilities were quite scary! Then I found an article on Megaesophagus. While it seemed like such a far fetched diagnosis as it’s said to be “rare” I talked to my vet anyway. Thankfully we have a pretty amazing vet who is willing to listen to their customers, so we made a follow up appointment to do the barium x-ray. VIOLA! There it was!! Melo did have Mega-E. The likely cause of his ME is that it’s secondary to esophagitis which is basically acid reflux in dogs. So we began with some acid reducers and medication for nausea and motility to help the food move through the esophagus. We have now weaned him off of medication with the exception of some acid reducers when he has a flare up. We built him a bailey chair and began upright feeding to encourage the food to move down and let gravity do the work. He is not a fan of the chair, but luckily we are now at a point where he doesn’t need to use it every time he eats. He also is able to eat hard kibble rather than a slurry of almost liquid consistency, so we are very thankful and grateful that his condition is not as bad as it could be. Of course as I’m typing up his story he has regurgitated on the floor for the second time today. He had a couple bouts of regurgitation last night was well, but those are now few and far between. He typically will have one off week a month averaging three weeks with no symptoms and then his one week of not feeling so great. Despite having Mega-E, Melo can still do lots or regular dog activities. He enjoys to run and play fetch the most! He wrestles around with his other doggie siblings, which you’d think they would learn by now that too much rough play means regurge in their face but dogs are dogs, so they don’t mind when he has a slip. We have another special needs dog that must take daily medication for epilepsy, so when Melo came ill I thought the world was crashing down on top of me. Come to find out, caring for two special needs dogs isn’t anymore difficult than caring for one. I had quite a few rough nights when I thought Melo wasn’t going to make it. Worrying about Aspiration Pneumonia, choking, and constant weight loss. It’s a tough battle but Mega-E is not a death sentence, it can certainly be managed. Though there does come a time for some, when the condition is so horrible that there is no other option; but for us, it’s not today. After today, we will begin our new count for regurge free days hoping to hit another milestone before the next occurrence. We’ve been Mega-E warriors for a year and a half now, and it’s a wonderful feeling spreading awareness to others and giving any bits of advice that may help. Nobody has all the answers, but together we can sure make a difference.
To anyone reading these stories, whether you have a dog who suffers from Mega-E or another illness or you yourself suffer…remember that it could always be worse, and your work is not finished as long as you’re here on earth. Keep fighting the good fight.
Melo & his Mom
“Bugger!! He threw up again, keep an eye on him, make sure he is okay” This is the start of a journey of frustration and learning.
Kato is now a two year old GSD male who was diagnosed with Megaesophagus back in June 2015.It began with the odd bout of throwing up that would last maybe a day, Then he would be fine again. This went on for a while. We checked the yard high and low for anything that might cause his vomiting. He seemed his usual, happy mischievous self most of the time, but over time we noticed he was losing weight. Feed him more!! We increased his diet, not realising we were compounding the problem. It all came to a head when he had a bout of vomiting (now we know it was regurgitating). We put him outside for a toilet break and when he came back in he seemed to be swollen in the belly, but it was all to one side of his ribcage. he was restless, his heart rate was very rapid. He didn’t look good at all. Bloat was our first thought, we rushed him to the local vet thinking we would lose him.
The vet did xrays. Luckily for us, although she had never seen a case of ME in 20 years of practice, she knew what it was. We were referred to a specialist vet in town that had the facilities, and more knowledge of the condition, for treatment.
Megaesophagus! Never heard of it! But so common. He spent the first night in the hospital where bloods were taken for various tests and they tried to unblock the oesophagus, no luck. They induced vomiting and reported that approx 1kg of food came up, but there was still that much in there!! To cut a long story short, the rest of the food eventually passed through to his stomach and after a two day stay he came home. All bloods were negative. We were armed with a lot of information on how to feed him and some meds (metoclopramide x 6 per day, now down to 2 per day) Smile
Two years of teaching our boy not to jump up on counters, now he eats his blended mix of divetelact and kibble standing at the kitchen counter. Cuddle time is 15 minutes of holding him upright after eating. Luckily, he seems to tolerate water well. He will eventually be using a Baileys chair. Although he has regained some weight, he is still on the slender side. We have had little setbacks, a little bout of AP, but luckily, we caught it early.
Thanks to support groups on FB we learned a lot about ME and how to manage it. Definitely not a death sentence, as some people (who were quickly put in their place) suggested. He is still the naughty Kato we know and love. Hopefully he will continue to be a pest to the household cats for many years to come!
Once in a while I will come across someone who really inspires me to keep going and to never lose sight of my goals. This was the case for Sheralene Thompson, she has been a supporter of Maxx’s page for quite some time now and has purchased one of our shirts. Sheralene had told me that her dog had passed away from this disease but that’s all I knew until the day she sent me Ruby’s Story. I believe that we all have that ONE special dog that changes our life for the better, that will always hold a place in our hearts that no other dog will ever replace. Maxx is that ONE for me, I will always have a dog in my life but I know Maxx will forever be my special boy. This was the case for Sheralene and Ruby. Ruby lost her battle with MegaE but she inspired her mom to do great things for others, which in return reminds me of why I started Maxx’s Story to begin with. Below is Ruby’s Story, I hope this touches your heart the same it touched mine. Even when things are bad and life is hard you can always turn it into something good.
My story began in 2010 when our GSD Ruby was diagnosed with MegaE. She was already 8 years old and for the 2 years that she remained with us, we loved on her, fed her, listened to her breathing, stayed up all night with her, took her on nightly rides (which she dearly loved), took her to the beach and let her run in the sand or sit and watch the people go by. She had aspiration pneumonia on about 4 occasions and we thought in July of 2012 that she was recover once again. However, her body was too weak, the bacteria was resistant and we sadly made the decision to let her go that August. Ruby was my best friend and was that ONE special dog. She taught me so much in her short life (10 years). She inspired me to go into animal rescue. Since 2014 we formed a small non profit organization in our town to help homeless pets find homes.
Diesel was diagnosed 1 year ago with Mega E. After a long year of trial and error and many sleepless nights of him coughing and regurgitating I am happy to say we finally have it under control. After a year he is once again the happy active dog he once was. We keep his food bowl elevated and he is able to tolerate canned food. We have taken the water away completely. That was what gave him the most trouble. To keep him hydrated I mix Knox Blocks in with his canned food which is divided into 2 meals a day. Through out the day and evening he is given ice cubes to eat. He has done well with this. His worst time of day was always at night when he laid down to sleep. There was barely a night that he didn’t regurgitate. I purchased the Kong inflatable collar a month ago and put it on every night before we go to bed. It keeps his head elevated and well worth the investment. He has had no regurgitation at night since we started using it and has done great during the day
Two days after Wylie’s 11th birthday she regurgitated her food. Oh she must have eaten too fast, I thought. It happened again the next day and off to the vet. Acid reflux was probably the cause. Two more days of regurgitating and I called our vet. He suggested for Wylie to be seen by a specialist if we were ok with that. This was on a Friday and he got us an appointment for Monday.
Of course I googled her symptoms and ME came up. Read all I could find over the weekend. Monday morning it was confirmed that Wylie had ME. The internal specialist suggested we test for Addisons Disease and Myasthenia Gravis. We did. Wylie tested positive for the MG. We started to treat her MG with medicine. She continued to regurgitate and lose weight quickly. We had a feeding tube placed. The regurgitating stopped, however she became weaker and weaker. Her MG medicine was increased. I had no idea that she had aspiration pneumonia and was getting too much medication at the time until one day she was so weak that I took her in to the emergency vet. AP they said and she was admitted. Two days later she was paralyzed. I transferred her to a hospital with a neurologist so he could treat her MG. He had her walking in 24 hours. She ended up staying in ICU for 13 days due to AP and MG issues. She came home skin and bones.
Two years later her MG is in remission. She eats and drinks without elevation and no longer uses her feeding tube. Today she is a happy, sassy and spunky 13 year old.
We wanted a German Shepherd to walk with my wife so she would feel safe and we wanted a rescue since we have 3 rescue dogs. A pug, Pekingese, and later we got a lab mix from our daughter because she moved to Colorado and could not take her. My wife saw Sara online as a dog that needed rescue in Highland Village Texas animal shelter. We drove 50 miles to go see her and it was love at first sight. The worker at the shelter called her Sara and said they picked her up wandering the streets scared. We adopted her and brought her home. For a year we had no problems but noticed something odd, she would burp. We thought it was funny and she had gas. Then it turned into a nightmare. Sara started to regurgitate her food every time she ate. We took her to the Vet and he gave her some medicine for her stomach but that did not work. He then suggested X-rays and blood test to see what was going on. He called and said we needed to come in for a consultation. I knew that was bad news. He told us Sara had Mega-E and her Liver was smaller than normal and not functioning normally. He told us to feed her small meals and gave her medicine. My wife blended up her food and we made small meals. It did not work, Sara continued to regurgitate. We took her to the vet she had lost 10 pounds. He told us it might be more humane to put her down. Me and my wife were just about to do that then we saw a post about Maxx on the German shepherd community group and he had Mega E. We felt so relieved that we were not the only owners that had to deal with this. We reached out to Kristy and she replied back. She has been a blessing from God. She directed us to support groups, told us to try the neck pillow, and told us about the Bailey chair. I’m retired so we live on a fixed income and we owe a lot of Vet bills and I could not afford a Bailey chair. Thanks to Kristy’s foundation, she was able to get Sara a Bailey chair. Sara has already showed improvement. She is eating good and not regurgitating. Her weight is coming up and I can feel she is filling out. She wears her pillow nearly all the time except to go out and play. We are so thankful to Kristy and Maxx for all their help and support. God bless them both and please donate to this worthy cause. There are more dogs that need your help and there is hope.