Friday, February 3

A dose of Viagra could help dogs with megaesophagus | Digital Trends Spanish


A drug that has helped millions of men revitalize their sex lives also appears to have a benefit for canines. According to a recent study, Viagra could treat a rare but often deadly eating disorder in dogs.

Research suggests that liquid sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra, can help treat dogs with an enlarged esophagus, which prevents them from eating easily. The condition is called megaesophagus and can affect many mammals, including humans and dogs, and can be caused by other diseases.

With this condition, the esophagus—the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach—not only becomes enlarged, but also loses its ability to push food down. This causes food and water to get stuck in the esophagus, and dogs often regurgitate a meal before it reaches the stomach.

Because affected dogs don’t get much real nutrition, the condition can lead to slow starvation, and other times, bits of food can travel down the trachea into the lungs, causing a form of pneumonia that can become fatal if not treated. treats.

“The literature tells us that many dogs with the disease die of aspiration pneumonia or are humanely euthanized due to poor quality of life within eight months of diagnosis,” said study co-director Jillian Haines, a veterinarian at the Washington State University at Pullman.

Veterinarians generally try to manage megaesophagus by treating underlying conditions if possible. Changes in diet or feeding dogs upright can also reduce the risk of regurgitation, and in more severe cases, a feeding tube can be placed directly into the stomach. However, there are no specific medications available that will help restore the ability of the esophagus to function as usual.

Now is when sildenafil comes into play. It primarily affects the body by relaxing or dilating blood vessels. While this helps men with erectile dysfunction, it is also used to treat a form of high blood pressure in both humans and dogs.

The drug’s dilating effects caused the authors of the study, published last month in the American Journal of Veterinary Researchthey wonder if they could also be of help with megaesophagus.

The study involved 10 domestic dogs with the condition. For two weeks each, the dogs were randomly selected to receive one cycle of liquid sildenafil and one cycle of placebo (for example, if a dog was given placebo first, it received sildenafil after a one-week break, and vice versa).

Before and at the start of either treatment, the authors measured with X-rays how well the esophagus worked to move food down to the stomach. In addition, they asked the owners to track how many regurgitation episodes the dogs had at home over the next two weeks.

The authors found no significant difference in how quickly the esophagus moved food in either scenario. But when dogs took sildenafil, owners reported fewer episodes of regurgitation compared to baseline and when taking placebo. The dogs also regained some weight (about two pounds on average) while taking the drug, and there didn’t seem to be any major side effects reported.

A close-up of a basset hound dog.

“There are no medications that we can use to control megaesophagus. Sildenafil is the first to target these mechanisms and reduce regurgitation, which is important because that’s what ultimately kills these dogs,” Haines told KOIN. Sildenafil “opens the lower esophageal sphincter for 20 minutes to an hour, which works great for dogs because we only want it to open when they’re eating.”

Haines says he has since prescribed sildenafil to some of the owners involved in the study, who continue to use it on their dogs. However, more research will need to be done to validate the potential benefits seen in this small study, and the drug may not work well in all affected dogs.

In the study itself, sildenafil made it to the dogs’ stomachs only 70 percent of the time, and it seemed to be less effective for dogs that regurgitated more frequently at first.

Still, given the limited options available for this condition, the team hopes that more veterinary researchers will be able to follow up on their work. “I think sildenafil will change and save the lives of many dogs,” Haines said. “This research helps support its use and will hopefully encourage more people to use it.”

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