Chien avec gamelle

Viagra could be used to treat a rare eating disorder in dogs

It is not uncommon to see a drug specific to one disease being used to treat another. This is precisely the case of Sildenafil, the generic version of Viagra. It could indeed be a treatment for a rare canine disease called megaesophagus. This disease results in an enlargement and relaxation of the esophagus which can no longer propel food into the stomach.

Dogs with this condition have difficulty feeding as they often regurgitate food. These can also go directly into the lungs, causing aspiration pneumonia. So far, no effective treatment for this problem of regurgitation has yet been proposed.

According to Dr. Jillian Haines, co-lead author of the study and researcher at Washington State University, Sildenafil is the first drug that targets abnormal mechanisms in the esophagus and reduces regurgitation. This is an important finding since excessive regurgitation eventually kills dogs.

The action of Sildenafil on canine disease

According to the article published in the American Journal of Veterinary Research, Sildenafil could make it possible to treat this canine disease by following the same principle as for the treatment of erectile dysfunction. Indeed, it acts by making the relaxation of the muscles softer. This allows the lower part of the esophagus to open for 20 minutes to 1 hour, allowing food to pass through and limiting regurgitation.

Minimal side effects were seen but in general the dogs were able to regain weight within the two weeks of treatment.

The course of the study

Ten dogs suffering from the disease took part in the tests. They were divided into two groups. For two weeks, the first group received a placebo and the second Sildenafil. The following week they were given nothing, but over the next two weeks the dogs switched groups. Throughout this time, owners were instructed to track regurgitation episodes.

According to the results, 9 out of 10 dog owners who received liquid Sildenafil noted a reduction in regurgitation during the two weeks of treatment. Dogs moderately affected by the disease had dramatic results, and their owners continue to use the drug to this day. For those who were severely affected, it was more complicated since they could not swallow the medicine.

Either way, according to Haines, a lot of vets are asking for information about the drug right now. For the scientist, this is a treatment that could change and save the lives of many dogs.

SOURCE: IFLScience

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