“MEGA” proofing your house
The most common cause of death in a dog with Megaesophagus is aspiration pneumonia. Which, can be caused by eating ANYTHING, while in a non-vertical position and of the wrong consistency. Therefore, just as you would “baby-proof” your house for a toddler, you need to “MEGA proof” for a dog with Megaesophagus.
• Does, or can, your dog counter surf?
• Do you have a cat with food and/or a litter box accessible to your dog?
• Does your dog have access to the trash can?
• Are pieces of food dropped on the floor by a small child?
• Do they have access to water bowls for other pets? (This may not be a problem if they receive enough water/fluid during their meals. Please monitor until you are positive it is not a problem.)
• Do they have access to clothing or other items that food may have been spilled or dropped on?
• Do they have access to children or adults who are not aware of their condition that might give your dog treats or food? (Groomers, vet techs, neighbors, family members who think they can have “just one little biscuit, etc.)
• In your yard, do they have access to a garden? Dog poo? Will they eat grass or plants?
• Do you have a sign/notice in your vehicle in case you’re in an accident and unconscious?
• Do they wear a medical alert tag?
These are just a few questions to answer regarding your house and daily life with your dog. I can confirm that they can and do happen. Roxie stole cat chow and raided the litter box when I slipped up twice. And, one time I left her chair cushion in her Bailey chair while I was gone for hours. Unfortunately, she had slobbered some of her food on the cushion during lunch. While I was gone, she ate a large section of the foam cushion with just a taste of the food on it. (At that point in her life, she was not starving for food but rather, was behaviorally starving to eat other “stuff.”) It was a miracle that the cat food, cat poo, or the “great foam incident” did not result in aspiration pneumonia. (They were all regurgitated over and over and over…..)
I can say, most of the time I was absolutely neurotic in checking for pieces of food or any of the above items that could be ingested. I also supervised all of Roxie’s time outside. However, if that is not possible, some owners utilize a basket muzzle while their dog is outside so that they are not eating freely. (Note: Roxie never contracted aspiration pneumonia post diagnosis.)
In summary, be aware of your dog’s surroundings. It can be the difference between life and death!
As with many of the management options for Megaesophagus, they may or may not work with your dog. However, over the years, those that will be mentioned here have been suggested and utilized with success by many.
Have a great week!