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Q&A: How Can I Help My Dog With Megaesophagus Vomit Less?

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Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He has been working with dogs for more than 40 years.

There are many ways to help manage megaesophagus in dogs, including—of all things—Viagra.

There are many ways to help manage megaesophagus in dogs, including—of all things—Viagra.

How Can I Help My Dog With ME to Regurgitate Less?

"I have a 2-year-old female German Shepard. Her name is Liberty, and she was diagnosed with megaesophagus (ME) as a baby. I received Liberty at 4 weeks old (not knowing you should wait until 8 weeks) and found out she was weaned off mom at 3 weeks and given puppy dry food starting in the 4th week. It's been a nightmare. She was a very sick baby and I've been close to losing her several times.

I bought a Bailey's chair from the beginning, and she has been doing great with that. I feed her 1.5 cups of Signature Brand dog food with water, and she has two eating sessions with ten-minute breaks.

What supplements/powder can I add to her food? Or what else can I give to help protect her stomach/esophagus when she regurgitates (or stop her from regurgitating as much to begin with)?" —Stephanie

Managing Mesoesophagus in Dogs

There is no cure for ME, but there has been a lot of work done on how to protect the esophagus. When your dog regurgitates, the acids in the stomach burn the lining of the esophagus, so the less she regurgitates, the better.

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  • Acid Neutralizer: Some vets will prescribe an acid neutralizer so that the acids from the stomach do not burn her esophagus.
  • Sucralfate: If she already has ulcers in the esophagus, she should also be on sucralfate, a medication that coats the erosions and protects them from more acids.
  • Nutritional Supplements: If she is thin, you can put her on a nutritional supplement, but if she is keeping good weight on food alone, an additional supplement is not necessary.
  • Probiotics: There has also been some work showing that probiotics are helpful; I suggest yogurts for most dogs, but there are supplements like Prostora that have a lot more bacteria. If you decide to use yogurt be sure to use a non-flavored product that does not have artificial sweeteners.

Can You Give a Dog Viagra for Megaesophagus?

In the past, we always prescribed sucralfate to protect the ulcers, but last year there was a study done using sildafenil (Viagra is one of the brand names). Sildafenil relaxes smooth muscles; one of the problems with megaesophagus is that the muscular valve that opens up at the top of the stomach does not work when the dog swallows. Sildafenil helps those muscles work better so that the valve can open more easily.

It does not help with all dogs and is NOT a cure, but it does significantly reduce the episodes of regurgitation. Although the study decided that the quality of life was not improved, I think it is improved when dogs do not regurgitate as much.

If you want to try this, you need to discuss it with Liberty's regular vet. You will need a prescription, and they will need to discuss how to use it. You still need to follow their suggestions on how to feed her and continue feeding her as often as before.

Best of Luck!

Best of luck with her. She can live a long and mostly healthy life if you follow the suggestions and keep using the Bailey chair.

This article is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from your veterinarian. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2022 Dr Mark

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