Tantra's Story

Tantra, a black and tan German Shepard, resting, with all of her ribbons spread out on the carpeting in front of her.

This year Valentine’s Day was so memorable, but not for the normal reasons. I brought Tantra our 7.5 yr. old, female, German Shepherd in for a vet visit due to a gradually increasing cough, hoarse bark and regurgitation of clear mucus. An office exam, X-rays and labs including a T4 were performed. Results indicated a dilated esophagus and hypothyroidism. My local vet referred us to the University of MN Veterinary Medical Center for further testing. We got in on Tuesday February 19th, met with a senior student (Amanda Berry) and a faculty vet Michelle Ritt, DVM – new x-rays done still showed the dilated esophagus, but also revealed pneumonia and possible partial laryngeal paralysis (hoarse bark was what we noticed most). Wednesday, Feb 20th, Tantra underwent anesthesia for an endoscopy to see what was going on in her esophagus. At this time an exam was done on her, which revealed the partial laryngeal paralysis.

Diagnosis: Mega-esophagus, pneumonia, hypothyroidism. Titers testing for Myasthenia Gravis had also been done and came back negative – yeah! This vet has seen only 2 cases where the Mega-esophagus has been caused by Hypothyroidism. Rare but possible. We were given thumbs up for being so in tune with our dog as this was caught at an early stage. Feeding habits had to be changed - but at this point can remain on her normal kibble. NO Swimming!

New x-rays were performed at our local vet on March 3rd and both the vet and I were astonished and had to send them to the U of M for reading. On March 11, Dr. Ritt called with the news that the x-rays were clear and the dilated esophagus was not on the new x-rays! 

Diagnosis of Mega-esophagus has been changed to Esophageal Dis-motility, partial LP (laryngeal paralysis) and hypothyroidism. 

**Esophageal dismotility - the esophagus does not function properly to move the food/water thru the esophagus to the stomach (esophagus is not dilated)**!

Tantra continues to be monitored locally for her T4 levels and so far no more pneumonia or regurgitating/vomiting of food and/or water since we have changed eating positions! Weight has dropped and her coat is now back to the gorgeous color and texture it once was. Two on the floor/two on the couch seat and small handfuls of food on her blanket on the head of the couch works just fine. She is currently still on her dry kibble! 

Note: If you notice your dog being more lethargic, coat diminishing/lackluster for shine and weight gain – please get them into the vet it could be as simple as low thyroid (hypothyroid).

Thanks to Michelle Ritt, DVM, Amanda Berry, senior student at UofM VMC and my local vets at Critter Care Pet Clinic in Virginia, MN. Because of their care and concern - we are back in the ring at Tantra's pace (her energy level has skyrocketed!) In late April Tantra and I traveled to MPLS and attended a United Kennel Club show for Conformation, Rally and Agility. I am happy to report her winnings: 3 out of 4 Best Altered in Multi-breed shows, 4 Q's in Rally including a UR01 title and 4 Q's in Agility (including a AGI title) Not to mention that she was the High in Trial German Shepherd in the Agility show on one of those days. Yep, I would say she is feeling better. Thank you again. 

Tantra continues to receive massages from Cloud 9 Pet Massage on a monthly basis which keeps her limber.


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