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