TikTok's the perfect place for finding all manner of weird pet videos, but one in particular is getting a lot of attention right now. It stars Ash the German Shepherd eating out of a high chair and racking up a cool 20 million views in the process.
The viral footage shows the adorable hound enter backwards towards her very own custom seat and be lovingly secured inside, before being gently petted by her owner.
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Yet, while the sight of Ash getting up in her chair for a meal's undeniably adorable, it turns out that there's a serious reason behind this behavior.
Ash suffers from megaesophagus, a rare canine condition that makes it difficult for her to digest food unless she eats in an upright position, as this video explains:
Megaesophagus is a congenital condition that can affect certain breeds of dog. German Shepherds are at risk of it, as are other breeds including Great Danes, Labrador Retrievers, Miniature Schnauzers and Greyhounds.
And what it means is that an afflicted dog's esophagus doesn't have enough motility and muscle tone to move food and water down to the stomach.
And so a dog with megaesophagus needs to eat in an upright position so that gravity cab take over and help get its meals down.
In some cases dogs with megaesophagus require a special diet and may even need surgery in some cases.
So how do you tell if your dog has megaesophagus? The most common sign is your dog regurgitating – not vomiting – soon after eating.
You can tell the difference because vomiting normally involves a lot of audible retching as the food comes up from the stomach, whereas with regurgitation it'll come up more quietly from the esophagus without any warning.
There are other signs to look out for include weight loss, excessive drooling and bad breath, and in puppies, poor growth is another warning sign; if your dog shows any of these then you should contact your vet.
And so while there's a sad side to Ash's adorable videos, the fact that she's done so much to raise awareness of this rare condition is to be applauded. Good girl, Ash!
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Jim is a writer, performer and cat-wrangler based in Bath, who last year adopted a pair of sibling rescue cats who turned out to be effectively feral, and has spent a lot of time since then trying to get them accustomed to people (some success) and each other (ongoing project).