n Back to Home About the Handler About Wylie About Shine About Dart About Flick About Totem About Wylie

Born: 21 April 2011

Totem's Brave Heart, JH, NJW, OA, CGC



How to Feed Wylie


At first, we thought he had Megaesophagus as he would vomit every meal I fed him in his transition from nursing to solid food at 4-5 weeks old. A barium x-ray showed he has a condition called Persistent Right Aortic Arch. Apparently there an artery that bypasses the lungs in uteri (according to the surgeon) because the puppy does not need to breathe in the womb (hence blood does not need to go to the lungs for gas exchange). This artery disappears at birth when the dog starts to breath. Wylie's didn't.....and it blocked his esophagus to slow the food entering his stomach. In his case, it also bent his trachea.

In blocking the esophagus, it created a pouch which trapped the food from entering the stomach. The puppy regurgitates all solid food given to him.

The barium x-ray shows the food blocked at the level of the great vessels of the heart. Some food has reached his stomach, but too much has accumulated in the pouch above his heart.


This anomalies is 90% correctable with surgery and proper care to shrink the pouch. So, our little boy was scheduled for heart surgery week at 7 weeks old.

Made several attempts to feed him elevated. (see video)

It turned out that Wylie needed to eat in a vertical position so that gravity pulled the food into his stomach. He went through a series of waste baskets acting as a Bailey Chair. He was fed liquid dog food. His vomiting stopped for 10 days before surgery.

Not only did he need to fed in this chair, but needed to stay in the chair for up to 20-30 minutes after eating to make sure the food entered the stomach.

Dart helped me keep him in the waste basket.

Wylie had surgery on Tuesday, June 14, 2011. He did so well in recovery (eating meatballs) he was sent home Thursday June 16th.


Cage rest and eating were his post-surgery activities.

I believed I was given one month to get him onto solid food, so I progressed him too fast which did not shrink his pouch. I had to start over.

I understand now, that it takes much longer than a month to shrink the pouch.

The esophagus is made up of striated muscle (similar to skeletal muscle) and not smooth muscle (similar to arterial muscle). This means it may be easier to regain shape than smooth muscle.

June 20th, we started back on liquid food spread out over six small meals a day.

He "ate" almost a cup each meal of liquefied pro-plan performance soggy in water, egg and sardine.

He never lost weight.

He grew fast and developed a little layer of fat over his ribs and hip bones.

Got his 20 staples out on the 25th of June and was quite happy to run and play with Dart & Shine. (See video)

I shaped his eating from the spoon to the bowl over a couple of weeks.



His scar didn't look too bad after the staples were removed....and will probably will look better later

On July 22nd, Wylie had his follow-up barium x-ray to see if his pouch was gone. His radiography are below. The left is June 7th (at 6weeks old) and the right is July 22nd (at 13 weeks old). These pre- & post- radiography show a nice narrow esophagus, but a little kink instead of a pouch.

From June 17th (when he came home from surgery) he as been eating liquid food in a vertical position to help the esophagus regain shape.

My dilemma was whether I need to continue try to get his esophagus back to normal or is that the best I can do.

After consulting the ME list and Dr. Kathy (specialist in ME), I decided to slow down. It appears as though the surgeons don't agree on the amount of time for the esophagus to heal. The range is 1-3 months. Mine said only the one month.

My decision was to keep the food liquid and move it to the floor (horizontal feeding); then change the food from liquid to solid; "shaping" one step at a time. Keeping it fluid was intended to decrease the kink even more.

At 14 weeks old, we started moving the food down. Here is Wylie's last meal (see video) in his waste basket high-chair (Bailey Chair).

And his first meal as a dog (see video).

Wylie's waste basket high-chairs (Bailey Chairs)....where he's been eating since he was four weeks old.

In the meantime, Wylie has been a normal puppy, exploring his opportunities.

He approached this deer in the back yard. They were on a stand-off. Wylie would not come off of her.

The deer took off as I approached. Wylie chased her across the yard.

Then she stopped. Turned, with head down, and chased him. She hit him with her head to make him tumble.

He ran screaming into the house.

I hope he won't go after deer anymore.

  He's been hunting and running in the field. (see video)
He's been going to puppy class at Pets mart.  

On August 7th, at 14 weeks old, we took the next step in feeding Wylie. He's closer to the floor, but still with liquid food.

On August 16th, (almost 16 weeks old) Wylie's feet touched the floor while eating.



On August 28th, I tried to change his food to solid. He felt awful and regurgitated twice within 5 minutes. Regurgitation was in the shape of his lower leg.

September 1, 2011 - 17 weeks old

On September 1st, we repeated the BA radiography to find his pouch larger. The veterinarian diagnosed it as Megaesophagus secondary to the Persistent Right Aortic Arch.


To help me figure out how his eating was affecting the pouch, I took him to Purdue Vet Hospital for a fluoroscopy. The fluoroscopy is an X-ray movie of his swallow. They can change the type of food the dog eats from kibble to meat balls to fluid. I believe the dog always eats in the horizontal position.

I watched the movie. Wylie had normal peristalsis (movement of food in the swallow) until the food reached his pouch. A small amount of food accumulated in his pouch (diverticulum) as it passed. Then there was normal peristalsis after the pouch. The food had no problem entering the stomach.

So, with this in mind, I fed him upright so that gravity would help the food pass his pouch. He has been eating this way ever since.


During the past five years, Wylie has had about 1-2 incidents each year where he gets something caught in his pouch.

He does not do the classic Megaesophagus regurgitation, he actively causes himself to vomit from his stomach. See the video. I then give him sulcrafate for at least five days. He is usually back to himself as soon as he vomits.

At the age of six, I took him back for another fluoroscopy and found his pouch was larger and that most solid foods would be caught in it. At this time he's drinking his meals.

At the age of seven, he decided he didn't like eating on top of the crate and now eats in an elevated dog bowl.

As for being a dog, he participates in agility and goes pheasant hunting.

See his Agility Videos:


In AKC Novice





Last Updated: 10-Aug-2019
Totem Vizslas
Webmaster: Janet P. Wallace
URL: http://wwwtotemvizslas.com/
mailto: wallacej@indiana.edu