Some breeds, especially German Shepherd Dogs suffer from congenital idiopathic megaesophagus (CIM) disorder. This prevents puppies from swallowing food and they often must be euthanized as a result. Some dogs live past puppyhood but still must be euthanized. Labrador Retrievers, Great Danes, Dachshunds, and Miniature Schnauzers are some of the other breeds that suffer form megaesophagus.
CIM usually becomes apparent when a puppy is weaned from its mother and starts to eat solid food, at about four weeks of age. The only way to get food into a puppy who has this condition is to feed them while sitting upright. They must remain upright for at least 30 minutes. While some puppies outgrow the condition, many need symptomatic management for the rest of their lives. They must be fed small liquid meals multiple times a day, gelatin cubes and they require drug therapy.
The good news is that Leigh Anne Clark a researcher at the Clemson University Department of Genetics and Biochemistry and her team have developed a genetic test to determine if a dog has the gene responsible for this disorder. Responsible breeders who have produced puppies that had ICM should have their dogs tested and avoid breeding dogs who have the gene for ICM.