Megaesophagus is a congenital condition in which the esophagus is dilated, causing food to pool there instead of traveling into the stomach. Regurgitation is a telltale sign of megaesophagus, and it usually appears when puppies are weaned on to solid food, at 4 weeks or later.
Megaesophagus occurs in many breeds, including the Rhodesian Ridgeback. The prevalence is unclear, as it is presumed that many breeders simply euthanize affected puppies as soon as the condition is diagnosed, and so it goes unreported.
Before research into the mode of inheritance and possible genetic markers for megaesophagus is launched, more information about the disease needs to be known.
The RRCUS Health & Genetics Committee would like breeders who have megaesophagus in their litters to cooperate with confidential research. Robert Washabau, an internal medicine specialist at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, has agreed to examine a litter where megaesophagus is present. This will not only allow him to describe how the disease manifests, but also to ascertain whether there are affected subclinical siblings -- that is, littermates who have a mild form of the disease that is not readily apparent without diagnostic testing.
Please help us to help our breed. If you have a litter with megaesophagus puppies -- or are planning one in which this might be a concern -- please contact Susan Ralston, Health and Genetics Chair, at Susan.Ralston@Merial.com. As with all research projects, all details are kept in the strictest confidence.