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215-746-8911
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Gifts in Action


Canine Megaesophagus - Charlie's Story

Whether it be a loving gaze or a cry for help, our dogs communicate with us in a powerful way with their eyes. When your dog is sick, you look into his or her eyes and you just know. The experts at Penn Vet know, too. And they know how to respond.

When David Tinsch took his newly rescued Golden Doodle, Charlie, to a rural 24/7 emergency vet he knew something was wrong but wasn’t prepared for the grave reality.

“Your dog is dying, and you have to get him to Penn Vet immediately!" advised the vet on duty.  Shortly after David adopted him from a local shelter, Charlie was unable to keep his food and drink down. Charlie was losing weight and declining quickly.

Charlie at Penn Vet Emergency Service

The experts in Ryan Hospital’s Internal Medicine Department diagnosed the problem quickly – canine megaesophagus, a condition where the esophagus is enlarged and has limited or no muscular reflex. When this occurs, the esophagus can't always move meals down to the stomach. As a result, food often sits in the esophagus, until it is eventually regurgitated.

In Charlie’s case, after trying vertical feedings in a special chair built by David, nine bouts of aspiration pneumonia (a common problem for dogs with this condition) and over 60 visits to Ryan Hospital, it was a feeding tube installed in his side that gave Charlie a new lease on life. “Thanks to the experts at Penn Vet, Charlie now runs, wrestles, romps and plays almost daily at our local dog park. Aside from the way he eats, he's normal in every way,” says David. “The experts at Penn Vet allowed me to eliminate euthanasia as an option for Charlie, and for that I am forever grateful.”

Team Charlie at Penn Vet Ryan Hospital

According to David, “We find peace and comfort in the care Charlie received from Drs. Slade, Culp, Tollett, Marino, Kelly and Harrison, as well as the countless technicians, staff and ‘behind-the-scenes’ personnel whose paths he crossed. At Penn Vet, Charlie is loved unconditionally and receives the best medical care possible from one of the finest veterinary teaching facilities in the United States, or arguably, the world.”

Today, Charlie and David are working to become a therapy dog team, in hopes that they might someday visit hospitalized children with feeding tubes.

Support for the Friends of Ryan Hospital Fund from friends like you allows stories like this to be the rule, not the exception. Your commitment to the care of beloved animals like Charlie is a valuable part of our success.