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A Tribute to Monty

A seriously ill Golden Cocker Spaniel puppy that had to be constantly fed upright was recently brought in to The Mayhew Animal Home after being diagnosed with a rare condition.

Monty, who was three-months-old when he was first brought in to The Mayhew at the end of October last year, was diagnosed with a condition known as Congenital Megaoesophagus, which meant he lacked the muscle mobility to swallow food while horizontal and therefore he had to be held upright.

When Monty’s previous owners first bought him from what they thought was a reputable breeder, they had no idea he had this condition. They only discovered something was wrong after bringing him home and noticing the poorly puppy had nasal discharge and had been coughing since he was eight weeks of age.

After visiting their local vets they were quickly referred to the Royal Veterinary College and there a specialist diagnosed Monty with Congenital Megaoesophagus and Aspiration Pneumonia, a lung inflammation due to inhaling food and liquid. They warned the owner that in some circumstances when a dog has been diagnosed with this condition, their quality of life isn’t good. Fearing that Monty might have to be put to sleep and not wanting to put their young family through that heartache, they decided to bring him in to The Mayhew.

Photo Credit: Graham Hilling

The Mayhew’s Head of Animal Welfare, Zoe Edwards, said: “Megaoesophagus can be hereditary and it is advised that affected dogs should not be bred, but unfortunately we see this kind of situation all too often where some dogs are still being bred for looks to appeal to potential buyers rather than health.”

“Sadly many pets end up in rescues after breeders who breed for looks have sold sick animals and not told potential owners, just for financial gain. These breeders can often have little or no concern for the welfare of dogs and puppies and no regard for who buys them. The health and welfare of the animal is very much overlooked.”

“We urge people to think responsibly about where they get their pets from and consider adopting a rescue dog from a reputable shelter, as they are full of gorgeous canines desperate for loving homes.”

Photo Credit: Graham Hilling

When Monty first arrived at The Mayhew, our Vet Team thoroughly checked him over and immediately made sure he was feeling more comfortable.

The Mayhew’s Vet, Dr. David Cosgrove, said: “Congenital Megaoesophagus is a really rare condition where the oesophagus or food pipe is dilated and there is a loss of movement of food through this pipe. Because Monty was diagnosed with this condition at such a young age, it was most likely that he was sadly born with it.”

“Normally when a dog swallows, food or liquid will move down the oesophagus into the stomach. At the same time, the opening to the trachea or breathing pipe will close to prevent any food or liquid from going down it. With Congenital Megaoesophagus, this coordination between swallowing and breathing is lost, and therefore there is a big danger of food or liquid going into the lungs, which causes Aspiration Pneumonia.”

“Monty was already on antibiotics when he arrived at The Mayhew, so we extended the course, to help with the Aspiration Pneumonia that can sometimes cause a fever, difficulty swallowing, chest pain or loss of appetite. To minimise the risk of food or liquid going into the lungs, during each feed, Monty was held upright and afterwards held for a further 15 minutes in that position, so to allow enough time for the food to move with gravity to his stomach. He was also fed dry food to also minimise any splatter from wet food into his trachea. His water also had gelatine added and then set into small cubes, which was easier to pass down the oesophagus.”

Monty was hand fed dry dog food and gelatin cubes

The Mayhew’s experienced Kennels Team spent hours socialising with Monty and making sure he was happy and comfortable. During feeding times, we used a donated high chair to help position Monty upright to enable the food and water to pass into the stomach properly.

Our Kennels Assistant, Eric Hugenberg, said: “He would use the high chair four times a day and we would hand feed him dry dog food and gelatin cubes, as this was easier for him to swallow. Monty had to stay upright for a further 15 minutes after eating or drinking to let the food and water digest.”

Kennels Assistant, Eric, hand feeding Monty

“On walks we had to keep a close eye on Monty, as anything he could pick up from the ground such as litter or even drinking from a puddle could make him ill and prove fatal. Despite his condition, Monty was an energetic and excitable puppy who wanted to be loved. He was a bundle of fun and he adored people and we adored him.”

After waiting and keeping a close eye on the adorable Cocker Spaniel pup for six months, our Vet Team was hoping Monty’s condition would improve with age.

The Mayhew’s Head Vet, Dr. Ursula Goetz, said: “Unfortunately the prognosis for dogs with Congenital Megaoesophagus is poor because of the high risk of Aspiration Pneumonia. Despite doing everything we could to help him, unfortunately Monty didn’t improve during his time with us because of the Aspiration Pneumonia. We were waiting until Monty was older because on some occasions, dogs with Congenital Megaoesophagus improve with age, but sadly Monty did not. This was the worst case of Megaoesophagus I’ve seen.”

Heartbreakingly, our Vet Team decided that the kindest thing to do for him would be to end his suffering, and put him to sleep. With loving care and pain relieving medication, our Vet Team was able to send Monty off in peace, knowing that he was now comfortable.

Kennels Assistant, Eric, with Monty

All the staff, who spent hours looking after and socialising with Monty, got the chance to say their final goodbyes and were heartbroken to see him go.

Our Head of Animal Welfare, Zoe Edwards, said: “We wanted to give Monty a chance and all our staff worked round-the-clock caring for him. Unfortunately he didn’t improve and the kindest thing we could do was to end his suffering.”

“We are devastated that Monty got to such a bad state at such a young age, but hope that by sharing his story we can educate people and prevent this from happening to more pets.”

Every day our Animal Welfare Officers, Animal Carers and Vet Team work round-the-clock responding to animals in need, just like Monty. Please consider a donation to help them continue with their vital work – you can make an instant donation by texting “WOOF13 £5” or your chosen amount (up to the value of £10) to 70070 or by donating here

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