German Shepherd Using Baby Chair to Eat Due to Rare Illness Melts Hearts

A German Shepherd is delighting users online in a TikTok video showing its intelligence, while also raising awareness of a serious medical condition in dogs.

In the footage, Ash the German Shepherd can be seen jumping in to her special chair, which supports her to eat standing up due to a condition called Megaesophagus.

In the video, which has been viewed over 10 million times, the text overlay reads: "She's a 10 but she has to eat in a chair coz she can't swallow," to which one user replied: "She's a fighter. So this makes her 11. So cute."

The trend of dogs eating upright in chairs has been all over social media recently, but it's more than just a cute gimmick. The medical condition Megaesophagus occurs in dogs and other mammals, and makes it difficult for them to swallow and digest food unless in an upright position.

What Is Megaesophagus?

According to Hill's Pet Nutrition: "Normally when a dog swallows, a muscular tube called the esophagus moves the food from their mouth to their stomach to be digested. In megaesophagus, dogs are unable to swallow food normally because their esophagus lacks the muscular tone and motility needed to move food and water. Instead, their esophagus dilates and food backs up, causing them to regurgitate the meal.

"This condition is the most common cause of regurgitation in dogs. It's a congenital condition, meaning some dogs are born with it. Megaesophagus is a heritable disease in miniature schnauzers and wire-haired fox terriers, Newfoundlands, German shepherds, Great Danes, Labrador retrievers, Irish setters, shar-peis and greyhounds are also predisposed."

What Are the Signs?

Hill's Pet Nutrition list the main signs your dog has Megaesophagus as: "Regurgitation fairly soon after eating. One thing to note is that regurgitation looks different from vomiting. Vomiting usually involves audible retching where the contents that come back up originate in the stomach or small intestines. With regurgitation, food, water and saliva come back up without retching and originates within the esophagus, usually without warning."

Managing Megaesophagus

"Preventing aspiration and allowing food to travel to the stomach is key in the management of megaesophagus in dogs," writes Hill's Pet Nutrition. "Dogs with this condition are often underweight and may require a high-calorie diet, which can be best satisfied with wet or canned food.

"When these soft foods are hand-rolled into bite-sized meatballs, they can stimulate a dog's esophagus to contract and move solids. A therapeutic diet may be a good choice for dogs with megaesophagus; talk to your veterinarian to see if one might be right for your dog."

"Dogs should be fed in an upright position, 45 to 90 degrees to the floor, which is where high chairs come in handy."

One user commented: "My dog has the same problem but I live in Greece and we don't have any chairs like that :(", to which the Ash The German Shepherd replied: "We made ours!", and another user wrote: "Bro, you could make in 10 minutes and shipping also exists."

One user questioned: "May I ask? How does this help the dog eat? Xxx," to which another user replied: "Gravity forcing food downwards is my guess," and another user confirmed: "Yep that's why my dog eats like that."

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German Shepherd
A German Shepherd lying on the grass. With megaesophagus, dogs are unable to swallow their food normally. Getty Images