Your pet has had a soft rubber tube placed through the skin in the side of the neck into the esophagus (esophagostomy tube) to allow you to deliver food and/or drugs to your pet without having to rely on your pets taking things in through the mouth during the recovery period. These tubes are easy to use and very well tolerated by most cats. They will permit you to give the full daily requirement of nutrition with a minimum of stress to your pet.
There are a few simple rules to follow when using this tube:
- Prior to every feeding, flush 10 mls of warm water down the tube. This will check to see if the tube is clogged and if has flipped back towards the mouth. If your pet does not cough or fight the flushing, then the tube is most likely in the right place and can be used for feeding.
- Prepare the food so that it is a consistency to easily pass through the large syringe that has been dispensed. We recommend A/D diet for this purpose diluted with warm water approximately 2 parts A/D to 1 part warm water. Mix it well, or place it in a blender at low speed. You should be able to fill the syringe by sucking the food up into it. If you have difficulty sucking the food up, then add more water until you reach the right consistency.
- Fill the syringe to the appropriate amount and begin feeding by connecting the syringe to the end of the esophagostomy tube. Slowly depress the plunger so that 5-10 mls of the mixture are forced into the tube. Watch your pet for any signs of regurgitation or coughing. IF ANY OF THESE SYMPTOMS OCCUR, STOP FEEDING AND TRY TO SUCK BACK ON THE SYRINGE TO PULL THE FOOD BACK OUT OF THE ESOPHAGUS. DO NOT USE THE TUBE AGAIN UNTIL YOU HAVE BROUGHT THE PET IN TO HAVE US INSPECT IT.
- If the first 10 mls goes down smoothly, slowly force the rest of the food down the tube over the course of 5-10 minutes, a little bit at a time.
- When you have finished the amount of food prescribed by the doctor, flush the syringe with another 10 mls of warm water. This will prevent it from clogging up.
- Pinch the end of the catheter with the locking device that is around it.
- If there are medications to be given through the tube, you can place them in after the initial water flush, prior to starting the food.
- Check the bandage around the tube daily for signs of bleeding, foul odor, or pus. If any of these are present, call us. We will change the dressing around the tube and check the tube placement once weekly. We will need you to drop off your pet in the morning and we will send them home in the afternoon. There will be a charge for this service, which varies depending on the size of your pet, and whether or not sedation is required.
- Esophagostomy tubes can be maintained for up to a month and sometimes longer if necessary providing we tend to them correctly. When it is time to remove the tube, we will do it here. There will be a small hole that will generally heal up in about a week after the tube is removed. During this time, the wound will have a bandage around it to keep it clean and sanitary.
Feeding Instructions for your pet
Feed the following Diet: _________ ; Diluted 2 parts food to 1 part water Feed ______ MLS of the mixture, _____ times daily
- Do not allow your pet to take anything by mouth for _____ days/weeks or until advised otherwise by us.
- Attempt to have you pet eat normally before each feeding. If they eat, then make up the difference of what they are supposed to get in the tube feeding. For example: Your pet should get 60 mls of diluted food. He eats 20 mls by himself, then feed with only 40 mls for that feeding.
The following are tips to use to help encourage your pet to eat
- Try warming the food slightly to enhance the aroma
- Place a small amount of the food in your pet’s mouth to get them to taste it
- Try placing the juice from a can of tuna or salmon on the food to enhance the flavor
- Try garlic powder, chicken or beef broth, chopped up pieces of chicken or clam juice added to the food.
- Try food of a different consistency (if there is no problem with hard food such as a broken jaw or dental problems)such as giving dry food if you have been trying canned food, or canned food if you were trying dry food.