Linda Arndt ~ Canine Nutritional Consultant

Feed Program for Megaesophagus Support

Before we discuss how and what to feed a dog with megaesophagus, or other esophagus issues, we need to understand what it is and the options available to you. I will be very realistic regarding this condition and tell you the amount of time and care dedicated to trying to keep an animal alive is tremendous - you need to weigh carefully to what extent you are willing to go to, to keep this animal alive. Quality of life and future quality of life needs to be weighed in your decision making process.

What is Megaesophagus

Most cases of Megaesophagus involves young puppies, and often Great Danes, Irish setters, German Shepherds are genetically predisposed to this condition and it often does not show up until the pup begins to try solid food. This condition is due to incomplete nerve development in the esophagus. The good news is that nerve development may improve as the pet matures. Prognosis is thus better for congenital megaesophagus than it is for megaesophagus acquired during adulthood. There is also a condition called Vascular Ring Anomaly which is a band of tissue that constricts the esophagus and often surgery is needed but there is a 50% chance of this regurgitation will continue.

Hypothyroidism is often associated with megaesophagus in adult dogs and testing is needed but it does not mean by using thyroid medication that this will reverse the megaesophagus problem. Myasthenia gravis would be a common cause because it is a condition whereby the nerve/muscle junction is destroyed. Signals from the nervous system sent to coordinate esophageal muscle contractions simply cannot be received by the muscle. It is necessary to test for Myasthenia Gravis and Addison's disease (hypoadrenocorticism) on adult dogs because these have also been associated with megaesophagus.

Diagnosing megaesophagus must be done radiographically. If megaesophagus is not obvious on films, it is NOT recommended to use Barium because megaesophagus patients have the tendency to inhale or "aspirate" food contents that back up in their throats. This is dangerous enough when the material is simply food but if barium is present and becomes inhaled, the body has great difficulty removing it from the lungs. Still, sometimes this is the only way to see the megaesophagus.

Aspiration Pneumonia is frequently a problem with megaesophagus dogs from inhaling regurgitated food. The presence of aspiration pneumonia makes the case much more serious as pneumonia can be a life-threatening condition. (See info about OxEdrops)

Some dogs will do fine on a solid food, some need a liquid diet - in either case you have to train the dog to eat in an elevated position. Ideally, the pet should be kept in this position for 10 minutes after the meal. The medication called Reglan (Metoclopramide) may help increase the tone of this sphincter so discuss this with your vet. Antacids are often necessary to minimize stomach acid damage to the esophagus when food is regurgitated from the stomach.

Marvista Vet Clinic states: "There is a motility modifier called "Cisapride" which is helpful to many cases. Theoretically this should not be so as the type of muscle in the dog's esophagus is not of a type that should be affected by this medication. Nonetheless, many individuals experience fewer episodes of regurgitation while on cisapride. Given the difficulty in managing this condition, we recommend at least a one week trial for any megaesophagus patient. Cisapride also is able to increase cardiac sphincter tone. Cisapride is no longer commercially available in the U.S., but it can be made up by most "compounding pharmacies." Do an internet search or check your yellow pages for a compounding pharmacy.

Megaesophagus is a difficult condition to manage throughout the life of the dog. The management is time consuming and the treatment requires dedication and commitment and still may produce very poor results. If you purchased a puppy that has this problem you need to return it to the breeder for a replacement or refund. If this is an adult dog you have a difficult decision to make. Please discuss all the factors with your vet before you make a decision regarding your dog.

In this article I have constructed a feed program for dogs with megaesophagus issues because "getting more nutritional bang for your buck" is the key. You want ample amount of nutrients in them for the least amount of food needed to be consumed. Calorie dense in small amounts is the key to keeping them in good weight, good health and trying to avoid aspiration pneumonia.

Feed Program for Megaesophagus Support

Note: some dogs can eat solid foods, the majority of dogs with esophagus problems have to eat foods of a liquid/porridge type consistency. The greatest challenge with a megaesophagus dog is getting enough nutrition into the dog without:

1) regurgitating the food - which can lead to Aspiration Pneumonia
2) getting enough nutrients into the dog with minimal amount of intake of food.

Feeding the dog in an elevated position is essential in getting the food past the pocket of the esophagus and into the stomach for digestion.

Food Recommendations:

KIBBLE - I recommend Precise Endurence Formula 30% protein 20% fat or Precise Plus (Holistic) Puppy formula 32% protein 18% fat - Forget the titles on these foods and remember we want more bang for our buck in terms of calorie and fat. These foods are nutrient dense and therefore it requires less food.

Locate a distributor at or in the link below you can get it shipped to you from they are very reasonable on shipping. Call them, it may not be on their website.


RAW/HOMEMADE: If you want to feed a homemade/raw diet I recommend using Honest Kitchen Embark or a combination of Honest Kitchen Embark and Diets Raw Meat.
Here is a feed program with this information in it. In the case of a megaesophagus dog, please substitue the Honest Kitchen Preference food recommended in this link to the Honest Kitchen EMBARK Formula becauwe you need the higher protein and calories.

Feed Program for A Balanced Raw Diet


Take out as much kibble as needed for one meal and run the Eagle kibble through the food processor to get a powder then mix it with a canned meat, a balanced raw meat or with rehydrated Honest Kitchen Embark, to make a cooked oatmeal consistancey.

You can use either:

3/4 Precise Endurance or 3/4 Precise Plus Puppy + 1/4 Honest Kitchen Embark OR

3/4 Precise Endurance or 3/4 Precise Plus Puppy + 1/4 Northwest Natural Raw OR

3/4 Honest Kitchen Embark + 1/4 Northwest Natural Raw

Read on the bag of Honest Kitchen Embark, it will tell you the amount of water necessary to rehydrate it, then add more for the kibble until you get the right amount. Let it set a few minutes to get an accurate assessment of the amount of water that is needed. You do not want it so thick that it turns to concrete!


All the supplements in this program can be are purchased at - 765-2878288 or they sell them in a supplement Kit # 18 for Megaesophagus Support.

A). BacPakPlus -Probitics/Digestive Enzymes combination product to help keep the digestive track working properly and to break down the fats, carbs, protein and fiber so it is more digestible.
B). Granular Nzymes - A dietary enzymes which helps to detoxify the body with it's antioxidant properties, speeds repair and healing and fights inflammation.

DRY MIX: Get you kibble in the powdered form (run through a food processer) or the Honest Kitchen Embark and add water to it to rehydrate it. The Embark will tell you the amount to use. For the kibble you will have to have to add enough to make the consistancy of thick cooked oatmeal. USE TEPID TEMPERATURE NOT HOT WATER IT WILL DESTROY NUTRIENTS.

In a small separate container add the Water for Life (dilute mixture ), add Ox-E-Drops (1-2 drops per 20 lbs of body weight), and the Spark of Life (dosage on bottle), stir and add to the dry mixture above.

Note: The WATER FOR LIFE mix up the diluted solution in a gallon container and refridgerate it. Then add the appropriate amount to the dog's wet mix daily.

2-25 lbs - 1 oz daily
26 lbs - 50 lbs - 2 oz daily
51 lbs - 75 lbs - 3 oz daily
76lbs - 100lbs - 4 oz daily
Over 100 lbs 5 oz daily

Let this mixture set a few minutes to make sure it is enough water you do not want it so thick they can't eat it or it packs in the roof of their mouth. If the stools are loose, then you may be using too much water.

First time users: Make note of the amount you need to use in order to get the consistency that is easiest for your dog to consume. Once you have the ratio of dry to wet figured out, then you start to mix these liquid supplements into the water before you introduce it to the dry component. Always add dry to the wet so it will not have dry pockets of food.

USE TEPID TEMPERATURE WATER ONLY! - Do not microwave or soak food for long periods of time, it destroys the integrity of the vitamins/minerals and probiotics on the food.


A) Ox-E-drops - is a anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal product that also keeps the pH of the gut in a healthy range for proper digestion. (OxEdrops can be used topically for other things see info on bottle to understand all it's uses.)

B) Spark of Life - is liquid micro nutrients often missing in a diet and needed to run the bodies metabolic/electrical system. Helps to keep energy levels up and immune system function at a higher level.

C). Water For Life - dogs with an esophagus problem are often malnourished and dehydrated at a cellular level. Keeping them hydrated is critical for nutrients to be utilized to their fullest.

If you add any other wet supplements such as a liquid joint supplement - just add to the wet portion of the diet.

If a dry supplement such as colostrums or a multivitamin product like Filling N The Wholes, just add it to the dry component of the diet.

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