Sloan…where to start…he was our 3rd dog and I talked about how he was our ray of sunshine when we lost Kira, and how Gunner loved him so much and got to be the best big brother…
Unfortunately Sloan had some pretty major health issues, we had him for about 2 weeks and we were in love, he was such a great puppy and he was the ray of sunshine that we all needed to help us with our grief in losing Kira…but he seemed to have a hard time keeping food or water down. He would eat or drink and then I would find kibble or water on the floor. He wasn’t vomiting, it just wasn’t staying. So off to the vet we went. We ran some tests and he was diagnosed with a megaesophagus. 10 weeks old, we are still grieving, and now our puppy that we all love so much has a terrible prognosis. I called the breeder and she offered to take him back (she had a great health guarantee) but have I mentioned, we were in love. So I decided we would keep him and do whatever was necessary to give him the best life. I started researching and luckily found a megaesophagus support group on yahoo (they were AMAZING) they were so full of information, ideas and support, I needed their encourement so much.
The first thing I learned was that he needed to stay elevated after eating. So into a garbage can the poor guy went, I would feed him in there and then he had to stay in there for at least 1/2 hour after eating. All the while I was researching different diets, and everything else I could find about megaesophagus.
Luckily for Sloan my hubby is pretty handy and was not only willing to put up with a puppy that regurgitated often, but was also willing to build him a Bailey’s chair (essentially a doggie high chair).
Through trial and error we found that he did best with normal dry puppy food kibble and water and then had to sit in his chair for 30min when he was done eating and drinking, and small frequent meals worked best for him. So I did that 6 times a day. Did I mention that I work on the road? So guess who was in the back of her SUV with a puppy in a Bailey’s chair in random parking lots and approaches when we were in rural communities. With Gunner in tow waiting patiently for us to start driving again. In no time at all Sloan helped us get him in the chair at meal time and as soon as he was done he’d fall fast asleep until the timer went off to let him out. Then he’d be back to normal playful puppy, bugging Gunner and us to play with him and love him.
Sloan was doing better with the chair and eating routine, but by no means had he stopped regurgitating. It had decreased but definitely hadn’t quit. There were many loads of laundry done because of him, and all of us had to change our clothes (or in Gunner’s case have a bath) because we got in the path of his regurgitation at one point or another.
As he got older and I felt we had the “recipe” of time in chair and consistency of food and water down pat I read about acupuncture helping with megaesophagus. I thought, why not, can’t hurt and it might help. So I contacted a veterinary clinic that did acupuncture, they had never tried it to help with megaesophagus, but were willing to try if I was. So we began his acupuncture treatments. At first I wasn’t sure that they were helping. So I quit, and then I realized how much they were helping so quickly started again. Anyone who has a dog with a megaesophagus should definitely give it a try. It made a world of difference for him.
This was my first experience with acupuncture and I wasn’t sure how it would go. I mean really, what dog wants to be a pin cushion. But he didn’t seem to mind it at all. Infact within minutes of getting them all placed he would be fast asleep. He loved going to the clinic, was always so excited to see everyone, then they would put us in a room, rub some lavender essential oil between his eyes, wait a few minutes and then place all the needles. I was impressed with how well it all went. He never flinched or fought us, just sat patiently while he became the proverbial pin cushion and then would lie down and often sleep.
So far all I’ve focused on is what was wrong with Sloan, but there is so much more to tell about him. He was a “normal” dog in every other way. So I think he needs a second post to talk about his “dog” life.