High chair saves the life of a dog

5:43 PM, Jan 20, 2012   |    comments
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The McDonald family did that with a 6-month-old German Shepherd named Nala and quickly fell in love with the dog. It made for some difficult moments when the dog became ill soon after.

"Shortly after that we started seeing she was vomiting all over the house," Christine McDonald, owner of the dog, said.

Nala simply couldn't keep food or water down, became weak and started running a fever.

Veterinarians couldn't determine what was wrong until they did an X-ray of the dog's esophagus and diagnosed Nala with canine megaesophagus.

Animals with megaesophagus have muscles in the esophagus that fail and are unable to propel food or water into the stomach.

Without some form of help, the prognosis for these animals is not good.

"They either starve to death over a long period of time, a slow starvation because they never get the nutrition, or they die of aspiration pneumonia," McDonald said.

The McDonald family found a possible solution for Nala on a website offering support for dogs with canine megaesophagus: http://www.caninemegaesophagus.org/.

The website provided information about a contraption called a Bailey Chair, which puts dogs in an upright position for them to eat. Gravity helps the food and water move to the dog's stomach.

The McDonalds built a chair based on the Bailey Chair and Nala has been eating in it for the last three years. Nala is now very healthy, energetic and weighs 80 pounds.

Nala does have to stay in the high chair for 25 minutes after she finishes eating to allow the food to reach the stomach. She is so comfortable in the high chair that she typically falls asleep during this time.

The McDonalds say it is a small inconvenience for the love and enjoyment they get from Nala's companionship.

"I think anyone who has an animal, if you choose to have an animal we fall in love with them and they're part of your family," McDonald said. "I mean, you'd do anything to keep a family member alive and it is the same thing with her."

(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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