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December Case Study: Charli

Staff kneeling down in a group around Charli outside in the grass

The resilient Charli has spent a lot of time stealing our hearts this year as she battled recurrent aspiration pneumonia secondary to Megaesophagus. Megaesophagus in dogs is a disorder in which the esophagus becomes flaccid, consequently losing its ability to transport food. When this disorder occurs, food accumulates in the animal's esophagus and causes frequent regurgitation, leading to aspiration pneumonia if the food enters the lungs.

Charli’s most recent case of aspiration pneumonia was quite severe, and she spent 13 days in the hospital receiving antibiotics, IV fluids, aggressive oxygen therapy, and lots of love from our staff. After 7 days, her repeat x-rays showed improvement in her condition; however, her symptoms were still present. Charli remained in the hospital until she was able to maintain her oxygen levels on room air. At the 13-day mark, this was achieved, and Charli was able to go home for ongoing outpatient care. Charli has now been home for over a month and has continued to improve.

Due to her condition, Charli needs to be fed her food in small meatballs in an upright position. This can be done by holding them upright, feeding in a special chair, or, in Charli’s case, sitting upright at the counter while sniffing for food!

It is suspected that Charli’s megaesophagus is part of a larger condition called Geriatric Onset Laryngeal Paralysis and Polyneuropathy or GOLPP. Unfortunately, this is a degenerative disease, and treatment involves conservative management to prevent complications, including limiting exercise, feeding in an upright position, and physical therapy to maintain muscle mass. Despite this diagnosis, Charli continues to live a full life, thanks to continuous effort from her owners and quality medical care.