Megaesophagus & The Bailey Chair

I get so many visitors to the site looking for information on Megaesophagus & Bailey Chairs, I’m updating the post. If your dog has just been diagnosed, I want you to know there are lots of people out there who are dealing with the same thing and want to share what they’ve learned.

I recommend joining the Yahoo megaesophagus group—they’re active, responsive, & helpful.  Look under “Files” for years worth of invaluable information on everything to do with megaeshophagus.  There is now a Facebook support group for megaesophagus which is also active & growing.

Megaesophagus is a condition in which a dog’s esophagus is enlarged to the point that food remains in the esophagus and never makes it down to the stomach and is instead regurgitated. The muscle contraction and relaxation that normally takes place to move food down to the stomach doesn’t work. Megaesophagus can be present since birth or can develop in adult dogs. If left untreated, it can cause a range of problems, including starvation and aspiration pneumonia.

  • The Mar Vista Vet site has a crash course on megaesophagus, including:
    • how regurgitation differs from vomiting
    • x-rays comparing a normal esophagus to a megaesophagus
    • interactive videos demonstrating megaesophagus
    • plus information on cause, diagnosis, & treatment

The Bailey Chair was designed by, Donna & Joe Koch, the owners of a dog (Bailey) diagnosed with megaesophagus. The dog sits in a “begging” position to eat, drink, or take medication and gravity does the work to bring what’s ingested to the stomach. There are a few ways you can acquire a Bailey Chair:

  • The creators will send you a DVD or video of instructions for building your own Bailey Chair for $6.00 to cover costs. Send email to Matthew1@earthlink.net to inquire about the address.  (Find out more in the Yahoo Megaesophagus Group.)

This “highchair” for dogs can be made of different materials and in different sizes to accommodate small and large dogs.
smallbaileychair.jpg largebaileychair.jpg

With proper eating position, diet, and medication, these dogs can have almost normal lives. Like Roxie, Rocket, Jasmine, Mattie, Diyoji, and in particular Tobin, whose caretakers’ describe their trials, errors, and successes in ongoing journal entries.

192 thoughts on “Megaesophagus & The Bailey Chair

  1. Hi all,

    I have a six year old lab mix named Sandy. He was diagnosed with myacenia gravis and megaesophagus about two weeks ago. It has been a very disheartening process caring for him, because I feel as though for every step forward, he takes two back. He still regurgitates a lot of his food, and it is so sad to hear him at night because he is retching, eating, retching, and eating it again. He is also recovering from aspiration pneumonia, so i know that has a lot to do with it.

    My mother and I attempted to build him a bailey chair, but we really need one of higher quality. I have seen some improvement with the new feeding method. Before, I was propping him up on the deck bannister, which made both of us pretty mad, him because he didn’t want to stand there, and me because he is heavy and I am a small girl.

    In short, I am looking for someone to build a bailey chair for me. My mom was just in a car accident, so I need for his care to be as easy as it possibly can, at least for a while. I live in the metro atlanta area, and I am willing to pay for shipping costs. My dog weighs 63lbs and stands at about 3.5 feet tall.

    A donation would be nice as well. I am a recent college grad working on a very limited income. I would also appreciate any advice anyone has on what has been the most succesful for them.

  2. I recently had to say goodbye to my golden retreiver Hanna, who suffered from megaesophagus, a side effect of a tumor. I created a pretty inexpensive “bailey’s chair” and i’m happy to share pictures and instructions if you email me. The base of the chair is just a small trash can.

    Ben

  3. Ben,

    I would be so greateful if you would email me those instructions. I feel so bad becase Sandy hasnt been getting a whole lot of attention lately, with my mom being out of commmission.

    My email address is kendall.r.simpson@gmail.com. Thanks again for your help. I’m so sorry to hear about your pup, Hanna.I hope that you’re doing alright :)

    Kendall

  4. I am co-fostering a 15 week old labrador puppy that has M/E like symptoms – she had surgery at 6 weeks for PRAA but despite a very gradual transition, she is still unable to eat normally – we feed her 4-6 times a day, slurry her food and keep her upright. Barium x-rays still show an abnormality in her esopagus that the doctors are looking into further, but it will never be “normal”. She is growing at a good rate & I have been blessed to be able to work with a dedicated veterinary team, be able to take her to work for constant care and my family understands the situation. My husband is going to build her a Bailey chair but is struggling with how to make it grow with her? I’m sure he’ll get creative. My quesiton is – she’s going to be alot of work for anyone between her special needs and being a busy lab puppy – are there people out there willing to adopt her? I’m curious as to how other rescue puppy stories “turn out” or how you explain the level of care needed to any potential adoptive parents. Any suggestions are appreciated.

  5. Our Great Pyrenees male dog has just been diagnosed with megaesophagus, and we are treating him now for a mild case of aspirated pneumonia after today’s chest e-ray. We badly need a Bailey Chair for him. We live in Westchester County, N.Y. Does someone have this for a 128 pound dog, or who can build it? What dimensions are needed? We must have it really work!
    Thank you. Arlene Oraby

  6. my neighbor has a welsh corgi 1-1/2 yrs old she is in need of a bailey chair. Where can we send the measurements of her to have one made? She was neglected and now she has a good home and we would like to make her life a lot better. Please let us know how we can get a chair for her.
    Thank you, Diana Speck (for Chris Gabellini and his dog Fiona)

  7. Hi Arlene,
    You were one of my teachers at Briarcliff HS (in the 70’s) and I remember you had a Great Pyrenees then (I think it was named Chelsea?). My dog Monty, a goldendoodle, was just diagnosed with megaesophagus as well. I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed at the moment and in my search for more information, I came across this site and recognized your name. I wish you luck with your dog and hope all is well with you. Are you still teaching?
    Peter Brown
    pcbrown99@comcast.net

  8. We created our own “Bailey Chair” from some materials we had left over from household remodeling, using ideas from some of the photos we’d seen. Sadly our Tyson died May 21, 2010, but the information we got from this group really helped us to do the best we could for him and to manage his megaesophagus.

  9. Hi i foster for a charity in ireland, and at the moment i am fostering freddie a five month old jack russell terrier ,he has been diagnosed with megaesophagus .not much is known about the condition here as pups are put to sleep when diagnosed,however i want to give fred the best care i can as i have grown to love him in the month i have him, they dont give supplements here so if i could buy a baily chair and anything else i need for him i would be most grateful at the moment i give him liquedised burns some probiotic yogurt which seems to fill him up too much as i have said vets in this country dont have much interest in these dogs but i want to give freddie a chance, any help would be great thank you angela.

  10. I am with French bulldog rescue an I am fostering a 13 week old French bulldog pup that has mega e I am looking for someone I can pay to build a Bailey chair. If anyone can he.lp me please let me know. Thank you

  11. My 4 year old dog was just diaganosed with megaesophagus 4 hours ago. This web site has really helped. I will ask my brother to build a “bailey chair” and change her diet. If he is willing and successfull-I would like to share. ok?

  12. I recently had a litter of great Dane pups and one little one has Mega esophagus. It wasn’t my intentions on keeping any of the puppies but “lil blue” has proven hard to give away. Time is hard to come by as both my husband and myself have full time jobs. Are there adoption places out there for al Dane with this kinda health problem?
    Thanks

  13. We got a Goldendoodle puppy 2 months ago and named him Cooper. He is now 4 months old. From the very beginning, he had pneumonia which we treated with antibiotics and then the vomitting started. Finally today, after a barium swallow xray, he was diagnosed with Mega esophagus and I am devastated. Our family has of course fallen in love with him and he is part of our family. Any ideas for building one of these chairs and materials to use would be greatly appreciated.

  14. Ijust did my first attempt at breeding redbone coonhounds. I had two breeding females and 21 pups. I currently have 5 pups left and they are coming up on 11 weeks old. One of the female pups vomitted since birth and I just thought that she was eating to fast. When she was 8 weeks old she was weened from her mother and the vomitting greatly increased. She started to loose weight drastically and so a vet trip was made. She was diagnosed with mega esophagus and I was told my only option was a $5000.00 operation or to put this puppy down. She is so beautiful and full of life and we have started to feed her in an upright positiion and she is now gaining weight and quite healthy looking. I also am wondering about the Bailey chair as well as some information on the care of this poor puppy. I also need to rehome her as I already have 6 dogs and 4 children so how do I explain to a potential owner the level of care she will need. Does anyone know how long these dogs live now that we are feeding her this was she still vomits on occassion but holds down usually about 3 of her 4 feedings a day. We simply puree canned puppy food and water for her and it seems to be working. She doesn’t even eat like she is starving to death anymore. Any information would be greatly appreciated.

  15. We have a lab who is battling this horrible condition.We lift him after he drinks & eats but can’t hold him up long enough. I fear he will starve if not helped soon. We love him so much. Please I would love to get one of your chairs for him asap!

  16. This site and the links are amazing. We had a Great Dane 15 years ago who unfortunately did not survive her puppy-hood. She struggled and yet had such a wonderful disposition. What a trooper. I am so glad to see that there are resourses that are out there now that will help dogs and their families as they cope with this condition.

  17. I have recently started building a company to manufacture vertical feeding chairs for canines afflicted with this disease due to the high number of chair requests around the web. Please email me if you are an individual who would be interested in this. Also please indicate a market price you would feel to be fair (we are currently doing market research to understand the type of quality the customers want.).

    Brian McHale

    bfmchale@pointles.com

  18. I have no idea what to charge but I’m sure you have a price in mind or you would not have started this company

  19. THIS IS A BAILEY CHAIR LISTED ON CRAIGSLIST, BOSTON, DEC. 31. PICTURE IS SHOWN ON CRAIGSLIST. I WAS UNABLE TO COPY AND PASTE TO THIS EMAIL.
    HOPE THIS HELPS SOMEONE.

    sale-f3p5c-2778067584@craigslist.org
    This is a Bailey Chair that I built and it is solid. It is free to anyone that really needs one. I had a hard time finding one myself for my dog so I built it, now I want to pass it on.

    Please email Paul

    •Location: Abington, MA
    •it’s NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

  20. I really need a Bailey chair or insturctions ASAP. My new 5 month old St. Bernard that we got from a family last night has This disease. She is the sweetest puppy could be and it would help a ton if someone could give us one for free. We live in Maine

  21. Our beautiful long haired dachshund Leo was diagnosed with Megaesophagus in September 2010 and has had 2 bouts of pneumonia. The Bailey chair looks like just the solution. We have tried medications with little or no effect. Thank you for sharing this! Please send information about purchasing a Bailey chair (pricing, shipping, etc.). Thank you!

  22. I’m in Las Vegas and my dog is named Bailey he needs the chair we have went through hell the last five weeks he just turned 12 has magaeophagus and I’m no good at building things will pay to be shipped he is 80 pounds and pretty long please help ASAP. I’m using the garbage can but he gets inpatient after a while dealing with arthritis to.

  23. Our labradoodle was just diagnosed at the university of Illinois vet hospital. They say dogs with this condition can live happy lives with treatment….basically eating and drinking upright. Our dog Marley has had this condition for over a year, testing and vet trips were unsuccessful until U of I. We need a chair for our underweight labradoodle who is 35 pounds but should be at least 50 pounds.

  24. I just found out that my boxer Abby has this and have been struggling with how to help her. I have a wood specialty friend that made me a chair for her. It is adjustable to any size dog, a hole for the tail to stick out, a whole for a dog food tray which tilts upwards or down. He has custom made this just for my Abby. I am listed on facebook and I have the picture on there and you can contact him at 563-593-0839 or woodspecialtiesmark@gmail.com His name is Mark Vilmont and he will make them just will have to pay for shipping. He is excellent at what he does, he built me this chair in 2 days.

  25. My dog, Sada, was recently –finally, diagnosed with megaesophagus, and I am desperatly searching for everything to help her. I am interested in the chair as soon as possible. Please tell me how to proceed.

  26. Hi All,

    We have a British bulldog who been diagnosed with a megasophagus condition now for 3 years. I made a bailey chair in 2009 and it’s still going strong. We also have a portable fold up one for holidays and trips away.
    Basically you can use anything that will keep you dog upright. If you are struggling for ideas try a shopping cart, waste bin or a folding box. A pouffe is good and will match your sofa. Just make sure any of these are the right sizes for your dog. If you are using a box or anything hard make sure you put a couple of pillows in the bottom and line it with extra padding as your dog will be in there for an hour a day…
    If anyone would like any tips on building a bailey chair or any photos for inspiration please dont hesitate to get in touch
    We expect our 5 years old bulldog to be still going strong in other 5 years…

  27. I recently adopted a 3yr old englosh bull dog the dog took to me right away he has a problem he eats fast and vomits up his food sometimes hours later and the food seems to be un digested then he eats it again he also does the same behavior after he drinks h20 i believe it is megaesophagus. funny I addopted the dog from a vets office he was there for bording and was treated and had a clean bill of of health

  28. hi where can I get information on how to train my dog to sit in a bailey chair. She is a 10 year old Labrador retriever

  29. Our 10-yr-old black lab recently developed this condition as well and our vet (a personal friend) recommended looking into the Bailey’s Chair for him. He is 100 lbs. Does anyone know where we could find one reasonably priced or have the instructions for building one for a larger dog? Thank you!

  30. Hi. My friend Mark Vilmont makes a chair for feeding a dog upright. The chair is similar to the Bailey chair but Mark has designed this one to adjust to many different size dogs. It can accommodate dogs with megaesophagus from terriers to labs to boxers to bulldogs. He has also added arms to hold a feeding dish that can be adjusted in height and angle- he uses wing nuts to attach them so the owner can adjust it easily! There’s another attachment that goes with it- you can take the food dish holder out and attach a kind of platform for your dog to rest its head on while it’s digesting. He even cut a hole in the back for the dog’s tail lol. Another added feature is a column of holes in the back in case you need to run a leash through if you had to harness your dog in the chair.

    Mark told me all about megaesophagus and the upright feeding chair he had been asked to build. Of course when he told me about it I had to research it too. My heart goes out to all those people and pets. When he showed me his design I immediately saw he put a lot of careful thought into it and I was really impressed with it.

    Ive seen Mark build many things over the years but this particular project has captured his heart too. Mark is a dog lover and could be seen all over town with his golden retriever Lucky Dog. He thinks like a dog owner while designing this chair and it shows.

  31. My husband and I are looking into adopting a dog with this condition. We want to do what ever it takes. We currently have a Italian gray hound and knowing this rescue dog no one will take we are willing do what ever it takes. This site is very helpful and we have no doubt that we can have a normal life with this precious Italian gray hound.
    My face book page is Krissy Burr McCall.

  32. We came upon this site in desperation, trying to find help for our hound dog, Bella. We have taken her to three different vets over a period of seven months. Exams, x-rays and multiple meds and treatments have been suggested of performed with no visible results. The web site told it all. It was suggested early on that she had a “long soft palette.” She has regurgitated for months and the only lab result that was positive was for hypothyroidism. Bella is a poster dog for all the symptoms we have seen on the megaesophagus sites but she is going to slip away if we can’t help her. The vets just keep passing her on for more expensive tests and meds, which have not helped.

    I need a Bailey chair fast; I will attempt to manufacture something quick to help her and then find someone to build a sturdy one ASAP. I have some hope in m heart at this point, but I can’t allow her to suffer either. She has not lost so much weight that we can’t bring her back.

    LSandy

  33. We came upon this site in desperation, trying to find help for our hound dog, Bella. We have taken her to three different vets over a period of seven months. Exams, x-rays and multiple meds and treatments have been suggested or performed with no visible results. The web site told it all. It was suggested early on that she had a “long soft palette.” She has regurgitated for months and the only lab result that was positive was for hypothyroidism. Bella is a poster dog for all the symptoms we have seen on the megaesophagus sites but she is going to slip away if we can’t help her. The vets just keep passing her on for more expensive tests and meds, which have not helped.

    I need a Bailey chair fast; I will attempt to manufacture something quick to help her and then find someone to build a sturdy one ASAP. I have some hope in m heart at this point, but I can’t allow her to suffer either. She has not lost so much weight that we can’t bring her back.

    Sandy

  34. My 13 year old black lab has just been diagnosed (today). Tried food and water on the steps, he is fighting me, I know this will not work. I live in OH, please, anyone able to sell me a Bailey chair, also fast? He has lost almost 20 lbs in past 3 months, we previously thought he had cushings disease because his ALKP levels are extreme, so we didn’t know the esophagus was the problem. The tests are still out re underlying issues, but he does have arthritis in his hind legs so sitting is very difficult for him.

  35. My Bouvier of 8 years ago had mega diagnosed by Barum X-rays by a vet I fed him from a stand also water. He lived to be 9 & 1/2 years old in the end cancer got him. There was a dog a Lab in Calif at UC Dave’s he was tube fed all his life it takes a very dedicated owner he was fed via tube all water and food. His owned gave him a Kong to chew while she was tube feeding him,he lived to be 10 & 1/2 years old.

  36. i have a little baby pitbull that has megaesophagus i need to know wut kind of food and diet i can do to help her she is very small and skinny anything will help thanks

  37. ^Randy, my wife and I have a boxer/sharpei that had megaesophagus. We buy Hills Science Diet Puppy Food, throw it in a blender, mix the ground food with water, let sit ~5 minutes, then serve. We’ve done this with him for his whole life, it has worked WELL. I built my own Bailey chair to feed my dog with, it was very hard at first, but became much easier once he associated the chair with meal time.

  38. We have a 12 year old Lab just diagnosed with megaesophagus (with pneumonia..) Jack also has arthritis in his back. The Bailey Chair promises to be the only solution to feeding him. I would appreciate either instructions on how to build one. (the e-how website photocopy is almost illegible – ).
    Thanks for any help you can give!
    Jenny

  39. Hi, I’m in need of a Baily Chair for a 5lb Chihuahua do you know of anyone that may have one that they are no longer using?

    Thanks,
    Mary
    765-432-0226

  40. I need a bailey chair for my 2 lb chihuahua. He has magaesophagus w pnemonia and botchalism so he cant walk…he now can lift his head and sit up……still no back legs…does anyone have a chair I can buy?????

  41. Hey everyone!

    My family and I have a 3 month old Alaskan Malamute puppy that was just diagnosed with megaesphagus. We are still undergoing tests to determine if it is the PRAAA as some of you have mentioned, or if hers can be corrected just by the bailey chair. Unfortunately, the breeder gave her to us knowing that she was sick. We definitely do not want to give her back, as we know the breeder will put her down. She is a huge part of our family, but at 3 months old, she is lucky to be at 13 pounds. Any help, information, or bailey chair instructions would be most appreciated!!
    Thank you

    czarnomeg@yahoo.com

  42. My 3 1/2 pound Chihuahua thats 8 months old just got diagnosed with megaesophagus and is recovering from pnemonia as i speak. Im reading up on all of this and i sure could use one of these “Bailey Chairs” for her.I hope someone can help me with this and get back to me please. Thank you!!

  43. Hello I need a bailey chair for a 65 lb. doberman. I attempted to build one myself but it didn’t turn out any good. Is there anyone that has a bailey chair that they don’t longer need? I am in Southern California. M.enciso@ymail.com

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