Category Archives: canine health

Megaesophagus in Dogs

bailey chairBy Langley Cornwell

There was an adorable photo circulating on social media that featured a dog sitting in a high-chair eating a meal. The image was endearing but it piqued my curiosity. Were the dog’s owners anthropomorphizing their pup? Was the customized high-chair an attempt at being cute, or did the chair serve a purpose? I had to find out.

It turns out the dog has a condition called Megaesophagus, also referred to as ME or Mega E. Dogs with this condition must eat in an upright position, almost like he’s begging, hence the high-chair image.

Megaesophagus can affect dogs, cats, and humans, and occurs when the muscles of the esophagus lose tone and becomes inflated to the point where the animal or person can’t get food to go down their throat and into their stomach. As a result, the food just sits in the esophagus tube until it is regurgitated.

Megaesophagus can be a congenital defect or acquired as an adult. Any dog breed can develop this condition, but some are more susceptible than others. Dachshunds, Shar Pei, Miniature Schnauzers, Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, Irish Setters, Newfoundlands and Great Danes seem to be at a higher risk.

Symptoms of Megaesophagus

Regurgitation is the primary symptom of Megaesophagus, and the easiest to detect, obviously. Another symptom that is fairly easy to notice is weight loss. If your dog suddenly begins losing weight and you don’t know why, pay close attention to his eating habits. Because the dog’s food is not making it into his stomach, the food is not digested so none of the nutrients are assimilated. As such, your pet’s weight loss is likely combined with malnourishment.

Bailey chairs 3Aspiration pneumonia is a common complication of Megaesophagus, and it’s the most serious. Because your dog’s food sits in his esophagus, it can migrate into his lungs and cause pneumonia.

Care and Treatments

At this time, there are no medical cures for Megaesophagus. The answer to a long and relatively normal life and a good quality of life is lifestyle management.

The main consideration is what and how your dog will eat. You must find a nutritious and healthy dog food that works for your dog, like CANIDAE Pure Elements. Feed him small, frequent meals instead of one large daily meal.

High-chairs made for this condition are called Bailey Chairs, and they work because gravity helps pull the dog food through the dog’s esophagus and into his stomach.

Dog owners Joe and Donna Koch designed the first high-chair for Megaesophagus-inflicted dogs. They named it the Bailey Chair after their dog, who had Megaesophagus. These days, there are a wide variety of Bailey Chairs available. There is even a DIY kit available for you industrious types.

There are other options for feeding a dog with Megaesophagus. Some people Bailey chair 2pad a small wastepaper basket and turn it into a comfortable seat for their dog to eat from.

It will take some experimentation to figure out what works best for you and your dog. Whatever you settle on, it’s important to keep your dog in the upright position for at least 10 minutes after every meal so gravity has time to do its thing.

Megaesophagus Support Groups

A quick Megaesophagus search on Facebook delivered five active results. There is a general page dedicated to the condition and there are two support groups; Canine Megaesophagus Support Group (3200 members), Feline Megaesophagus and Upright Canine Brigade, Megaesophagus Awareness and Support (599 members). There is also a great website, Canine Megaesophagus Info, which offers a wealth of ME information in addition to support and awareness.

Members of these support groups share beautiful testimonials along with tips and tricks for establishing a thriving routine with a Megaesophagus dog. From what I’ve learned, a few adjustments in your lifestyle will allow your dog to have a long, happy, healthy life.

Photos courtesy of Susan Sanchez /Bailey Chairs 4 Dogs

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The Five Most Common Injuries in Dogs

dog_injuries_siniBy Linda Cole

Dogs love chasing each other, playing fetch or racing around at full speed, twisting and turning as they run. Play is a good way for dogs to get rid of excess energy, but it’s also how they can pick up an injury. Some of the most common injuries can sideline your pet, or at least slow him down a bit.

Soft Tissue Injuries

Soft tissues are the tendons, muscles and ligaments. Common soft tissue injuries are sprains and strains. Dogs can slip on snow or ice or step in a hole while running. Quick turns or stops, leaping or jumping off or over something can pull a muscle, stretch a tendon or tear a ligament. Just jumping off the couch or bed can cause an injury. We may think of dogs as being athletic and surefooted, but accidents happen in the blink of an eye. Whenever your dog is racing around the yard chasing a ball or another dog, or training for a dog sport, there’s always the potential for a soft tissue injury.

If you notice your pet limping, that’s a sure sign something is wrong. It could be nothing more than a rock caught between his toes or paw pads, but it could also be a soft tissue injury. If you’ve checked his feet and don’t find any cuts or anything else that could be causing him to limp, it’s best to have your vet check him out. Many strains and sprains are minor and can be cared for by limiting his activity, but some can be serious and require medical attention.

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Can Dogs get Hypertension?

Hypertension Scott Feldstein OKBy Langley Cornwell

Hypertension in dogs is similar to hypertension in people, but there are differences worth noting. Generally speaking, hypertension is an increase in blood pressure established over a period. The signs of hypertension in dogs are as silent as they are in humans. For many years, veterinarians did not check the blood pressure of dogs due to the lack of equipment to measure the pressure. Is your dog at risk?

The two types of high blood pressure

Primary hypertension is consistently high blood pressure readings with no obvious underlining health cause. Some breeds are more susceptible to primary hypertension, leading to the thought that there is a genetic component to the disease. According to the Canine Heath Foundation, “Dachshunds, Poodles, and certain terrier breeds have an increased risk.” Dogs usually present high reading between 2 and 14 years of age.

Secondary hypertension in dogs is more common, with about 80% of hypertension-affected dogs falling into this category. Many times, there is an underlying disease contributing to the incidence of hypertension in dogs. In fact, diabetes, kidney problems, hormone and thyroid problems may all be factors. The health of the dog becomes dependent on treating the underlying disease as well as treating the hypertension.

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How to Stop Dogs from Licking Their Wounds

dog wound Ewen RobertsBy Langley Cornwell

Some people believe an old wives tale that it’s okay for a dog to lick his wound because his saliva has antibacterial abilities. Because of this, they let their pet tend to their own cut or puncture and then wonder why the wound is getting worse instead of better. It is true that a canine’s saliva has trace amounts of antibacterial properties, but not enough to heal a wound. In fact, incessant licking will impede the natural healing process and even further damage a pet’s wound.

The reason a dog licks his wound in the first place is because it temporarily blocks the pain receptors. It’s like when you bonk your head and then rub it. At first the rubbing makes the localized pain—where you hit your head—feel better. That’s what licking does.

The act of licking wounds traces back to domesticated dog’s ancestors. Wild and feral dogs licked their wounds to clean out any debris. Additionally, as mentioned, dog saliva does have a slight antibacterial benefit. But wild dogs were so busy avoiding predators and feeding the pack that they weren’t able to lick their wound endlessly. Domesticated dogs, on the other hand, have plenty of time on their hands (paws?). If left to their own devices, they could spend all day licking and fussing over a wound. Thus starts a cycle; licking makes the wound worse so the dog licks more, which makes the wound worse, which prompts more licking. You get the point.

Because of this unhelpful and perhaps harmful cycle, it’s important to block your dog’s access to his wound. Here are a few suggestions.
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Preventing and Treating Canine Diabetes

diabetes daily inventionBy Langley Cornwell

The diabetes epidemic is a problem in humans, but did you know that this insidious set of metabolic diseases is also a problem in the canine community? As in humans, diabetes mellitus is a result of a dog’s inadequate response to or total lack of the hormone called insulin. Other than that, though, it appears the diseases are slightly different in dogs than in humans.

Humans are susceptible to three different types of diabetes: Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes. In humans, Type 2 diabetes is the most prevalent form of the disease. In dogs, it is generally thought that Type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes is the most common. This assumption is under scrutiny, however, because there are currently no globally accepted definitions of canine diabetes.

Many experts, including the United Kingdom’s Royal Veterinary College, have come to recognize only two kinds of dog diabetes. There is the canine insulin-resistant type (IRD) and the canine insulin-deficient type (IDD), and neither of these forms of diabetes matches human diabetes precisely.

Prevention

It’s impossible to prevent diabetes. One type, the kind that’s found in juvenile dogs, is inherited. But plenty of exercise and nutritious, wholesome dog food such as the CANIDAE Grain Free Pure formulas, can help prevent the onset of diabetes in adult dogs.

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Can Dogs Get Tonsillitis?

tonsillitis smerikalBy Linda Cole

We don’t normally think about tonsil health in canines, but like us, dogs do have tonsils. Sometimes they become inflamed, which makes a dog feel very uncomfortable. Knowing the symptoms of tonsillitis can help you get your pet medical attention to ease his discomfort.

Two tonsils, one on each side of the mouth, are located at the back of the throat. Their primary function is to provide protection from bacteria and viruses. The tonsils are similar to lymph glands, and you normally can’t see them because when the tonsils are healthy they are hidden inside a pouch known as a crypt. Since their job is to fight infections, the tonsils can become infected. When that happens, it’s easier for us to see them because they become red, swollen, and are no longer contained in their pouch.

One of the more common ways dogs can get tonsillitis is from a buildup of tartar on the teeth due to poor dental hygiene, or a gum infection. Tonsillitis can also be caused by an irritation of the mouth or throat. Sometimes an infection from somewhere else gets into the mouth, and bacteria is able to get into the throat area. Most of the time, the cause is from bacteria normally found in the mouth that multiplies.

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