German Shepherd Puppy Niko, Diagnosed With Mega-esophagus

by Tammy Long
(Plantation, Fl)

Attached is a picture of 3 puppies in a litter born to my 3 year old GSD female (Shasta) and 2 year old GSD Gunter.

These three pups, which were about a month old at the time, decided to take a nap next to our BBQ grill after eating one of their 1st weaning meals. The two female sable colored pups (Tonka - left, and Kyrie-center) have gone on to fantastic "forever" homes.

Niko, the male pup on the right, was officially diagnosed with Mega-esophagus about 2 weeks after this photo was taken. although we had an idea at two weeks old when he would regurgitate milk after nursing and made a throat gurgle noise. (very scary at the time)

Thanks to a great Yahoo Internet group (, a vet willing to listen and agree to prescribe the medications needed, as I tried some of the suggested management techniques, and a little dedication my part (and the hubby too), Niko is now 7 months old and is 67lbs (and growing). His symptoms are all but gone.

I have also attached a pic of him eating from his table...(not as a photo entry, but as a reference). Niko must eat vertical to use gravity to assist in his digestion,as his esophagus lacked the ability to push food down the esophagus to the stomach.

After eating from the table he stands at the table for about 5 minutes, then has to sit on the couch (butt on the sofa, with his front paws over the back rest) to hold him up vertical for about 15 more minutes.

Being he has been doing this since a VERY young puppy, this is second nature for him. The other GSDs just sit by the couch and wait for his "hold time" to be over, so they can all go outside together.

I never intended on keeping any puppies from the litter, but would not sell or give away a puppy with such an illness. I can say in a strange way though, mega-esophagus turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as he is a sweet and energetic puppy that has changed our life and outlook on many things.

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Jul 20, 2013
8 years old when diagnosed with mega e
by: Joan

Keep vigilant, my German Shepherd dog (Caesar) was diagnosed with Mega E and spinal myopathy 2 years ago, He was 105 pounds then and is now 65 lbs. but he is such a sweetheart.

We have a wonderful vet. My husband built him a Bailey's chair for him to "sit" in when we hand feed him. We have been doing this three times a day for 2 + years and will continue until the good Lord decides he wants him or until he just one day can't do it anymore.

We dissolve a sucralfate tablet in water and give that to him 1/2 hour before feeding. we feed him in the morning with his meds and a packet of protein powder, then he licks his bowl clean (this is to get him up longer--however the spinal problems hinder that. he gets 2 more feedings through the day.

We found Natural balance LID (limited ingredient diet) has helped with the sensitive stomach. We feed him venison and sweet potato. he can no longer eat snacks or anything hard except ice cubes, he gets aspiration pneumonia about every 10-12 weeks, but when he is feeling good he romps around like a little puppy or gallops like a horse.

Good luck with Niko, our vet says every day for Caesar is a record, I say it is a blessing for us.

Aug 30, 2010
by: Anonymous

I work with a rescue and we had a dog that had the same problem. He was so special too. The fosters built him his own special 'chair' sort of resembling a high chair, he goes through the routine and other than that a normal as any other dog. I hope Niko can be completely cured, although I am sure he doesn't think he is sick just special. Thanks for being such caring parents and GOD BLESS YOU.

He certainly is a beautiful pup.

Aug 28, 2010
by: Eleanor M.

what medications did you use.

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