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Battersea combats rare life-threatening condition with the help of a high-chair

An unlikely item of furniture has saved the life of a Labrador puppy from Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, who used a doggy high-chair to survive a life-threatening illness meaning he couldn’t swallow food properly.

Pluto arrived at Battersea’s Brands Hatch centre in February as a severely underweight young puppy. Vets at Battersea were concerned when Pluto continuously brought back up his food, and tests revealed that he had a rare condition called Mega-oesophagus. This congenital condition meant the muscles in his oesophagus did not work, so anything Pluto chewed could get stuck in his throat and be fatal.

The Labrador appeared on the new series of Paul O’Grady: For the Love of Dogs, where Paul witnessed first-hand the life or death situation Pluto was in.

Unable to put on weight as a result, the Veterinary Surgeons at Battersea were unsure what they could do for Pluto. He could not eat properly and his normal dog behaviours were severely restricted – his regurgitation of food was severely impacting his health.

The solution for Pluto was a ‘Bailey Chair’ – a high-chair for dogs – that was constructed specifically for him at Battersea so he could be fed upright and allows the food to reach his stomach. Pluto has to stay upright for 10 minutes after eating so that his food does not come back up.

Veterinary Surgeon Shaun Opperman said: “It’s all about gravity when you feed Pluto, he needs to be fed upright and have all his food in one go. At Battersea we put water in the food to hydrate him because he couldn’t even have a drink – it’s a fairly long process. Anything can get stuck in his oesophagus and people need to be really vigilant – even if he eats a small piece of food or fluff off the floor it would put back his progress.”

Pluto has now found a loving home with Alan and Deborah Scoones in Oxfordshire. Alan explains:

“Our daughter Chloe works at Battersea Brands Hatch and fostered Pluto and we had the chance to meet him. We fell in love with him and wanted to rehome him, so Chloe taught us all we needed to know about his condition. Now we have a good routine at home with feeding and we all take turns four times a day to give him a meal. Pluto knows to get straight into his chair and backs in to it all on his own – he sits there waiting for his food to be brought over! He scoffs it down and seems very happy. It’s a small price to pay to have such a perfect dog in our lives. It’s great that Chloe can still see Pluto when she visits us, especially after she cared for him and did so much work with him at Battersea.”

The fourth series of award winning Paul O’Grady: For the Love of Dogs features eight episodes and airs on ITV every Thursday at 8:30pm-9pm.

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