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Exercise Program for Corgis with Degenerative Myelopathy

DMExercises

Over a year ago I wrote about Degenerative Myelopathy. It was one of the first Medical Monday topics I wanted to write about because Corgis are so prone to this issue. As a matter of fact, when we gave Rooney the Canine HealthCheck test earlier this year, we discovered that he does carry a gene for Degenerative Myelopathy (DM), and approximately 70% of Corgis carry that same gene.

Unfortunately, one of the Corgis on our Facebook page community has just received this devastating diagnosis. As pet parents, we want to help. When your dog is diagnosed with this disease, one of the things you can do is provide them with an exercise regimen. Therefore, I thought I would take the time to research exercises for this particular disease.

It is important to know that some of these exercises are similar to the 5 Core Strengthening Exercises I wrote about previously. However, when completing these exercises, you shouldn’t push your dog to complete them as if they are healthy because they are not. They have a disease, and you should have them complete all exercises as if that’s true. Additionally, their exercise program should include a combination of strengthening, stretching, and repetitive mobility.

GA Veterinary Rehabilitation, Fitness, and Pain Management stresses the importance of balancing the exercise program for dogs with DM between doing too much and not doing enough. Particularly, overdoing your dog’s exercise can worsen their disease. Therefore, any pet parent should work very closely with their veterinarian, or veterinary physical rehabilitation center, to make sure that they provide the correct range of exercise for their dog. GA Veterinary Rehab recommends that an exercise program for Degenerative Myelopathy consists of the following:

Active Exercise

Passive Exercise

Hydrotherapy

Here are some examples of Active Exercise:

Fulfilling Mobility: It is important for dogs suffering from this disease to keep them mobile. Muscle atrophy which occurs as a result of not using the muscles doesn’t improve their diseases. Additionally, exercise provides them with circulation and conditioning. The longer they have muscle to use, the longer they will be able to do the things they love. When I say fulfilling, I mean provide your dog with the exercise they LOVE! For example, is your morning walk the highlight of their day? Although this walk will need to get shorter as their disease progresses, it’s important that you take them for whatever they can handle for as long as possible.

Weight Shifting: Some exercises include equipment and should be completed ONLY at your local rehab center and with the oversight of a veterinary staff. However, other weight shifting exercises can be completed at home. Working with your veterinary staff on exercise selection is important because it does depend on your dog’s abilities, the current stage of their disease, and their range of motion.

Examples of Passive Exercise include:

Stretching: These exercises may include range of motion stretches. Once again, my research focused mostly on working with a veterinarian or rehab center and not deciding which stretches to do on your own.

Strengthening/Balancing Exercises: Some examples of strengthening exercises include sit-to-stand exercises and step-up exercises. These strengthening exercises should mimic movements your dog does on an a regular basis. Therefore, passively strengthening muscles they will need and often use (DawgBusiness).

Massage: Canine massage can improve circulation, increase flexibility, and maintain muscle tone (PetMassage.com). All of the above will help your dog maintain their range of motion and healthier muscles as their disease progresses.

Hydrotherapy can provide your dog with an opportunity to build muscle without the same strain on the joints. Additionally, using an underwater treadmill allows your dog to walk while eliminating the risk of falling. The below video is an example of a dog using an underwater treadmill and an explanation of how the treadmill works.

This video created by AKC Canine Health Foundation is fantastic at explaining Degenerative Myelopathy, how it’s diagnosed, what possible treatments are available, and what you can do.

The most important takeaway from this post is that you shouldn’t design your own exercise program for your dog with DM because you could worsen the disease, it is imperative that you work with veterinary staff. However, having an exercise program can significantly increase your dog’s quality of life as the degenerative myelopathy progresses.

Does your dog suffer from this disease? What types of exercises do you do?

8 Photographs of #Happiness

Rooney and I were recently tagged by our friends from Barking from the Bayou and Love is Being Owned By a Husky to share 8 photographs of Happiness.

This is actually a tough thing to do. I have so much to be grateful for, and so many people and animals in my life that bring me joy. So it was hard to narrow my happy memories down to 8 photos. So technically, there are so many more, but here is what I have to share today.

1) My Husband and Rooney: I can’t talk about happiness without talking about my husband. I can’t express in words how supportive and amazing he is. Most of all, I love that he always wants to do what is best for Rooney. The three of us have made so many great memories these past few years, and I can’t wait for all the more memories to come.

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2) Rooney in a Bucket: I took this photo last August at the Dog Park. When I looked over and Rooney had climbed into this little bucket, I was cracking up!

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3) Rooney and I at NorCal Corgi Con 2015: I love this picture because Rooney had so much fun at this event.

Corgicon me and Roo

4) Rooney in Pajamas: Yet another picture that just makes me laugh 🙂

Rooney-Pajamas

5) Rooney & I: Rooney and I both love to take naps, and I have never had a dog who would cuddle with me before, so I am so grateful for these naps with Rooney 🙂

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6) Rooney was “hiding”: My husband emailed me this picture while I was in class one day and I couldn’t stop laughing. He said he found Rooney sitting in the living room like this lol.

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7): Rooney’s First Week: This picture was taken during Rooney’s first week at our house. We loved him right away and felt so lucky we were able to adopt him.

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8) Me & Rooney: This picture was taken while I was still a Vet Assistant. What you can’t see is that Rooney is drenched from jumping in the pond behind us before we took this picture. 🙂

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 Thanks to Ariel’s Little Corner of the Internet for starting this awesome happiness trend.

Thanks for sharing our Eight Photos of Happiness. Here are the rules:

1. Thank the person that tagged you.

2. A shout-out to the originator of the fun Ariel’s Little Corner of the Internet.

3. Post 8 photos that make you happy.

4. Brief description of each picture.

5.Tag up to 10 more people.

I would like to see photos from:

Lessons from a Paralyzed Dog

Dakota’s Den

Sugar the Golden Retriever

Oh My Shih Tzu

The Dog Training Lady

Are Corgis at a Higher Risk for Lymphoma?

MMLymphoma

Recently, there was some discussion in a Corgi Facebook group about Corgis and lymphoma.

Unfortunately, it seems like more and more Corgis are diagnosed with lymphoma. Therefore, I would like to provide the Corgi community with some additional information. Here are some questions I hope to answer with this blog post today:

What is lymphoma?

What are the different types of lymphoma?

What are the signs of lymphoma?

How is lymphoma treated?

Are Corgis at a higher risk for lymphoma than other breeds?

Since it seems like many Corgi owners are facing this disease currently, I hope to shed some light on the disease and hopefully provide some helpful information. Let’s get started.

What is lymphoma?

It is one of the most common tumors seen, making up approximately 7-14% of cancers, in dogs (Purdue College of Veterinary Medicine). The specific term “lymphoma” actually describes a group of cancers that derive from white blood cells. Malignant lymphoma can be found in the lymph nodes or tissue, or in the spleen or bone marrow.

What are the different types of lymphoma?

It is important to understand that there are several different types of lymphoma and there are several ways to classify lymphoma.

Lymphoma can be broken down by affected region of the body:

The most common type of lymphoma is multicentric lymphoma, where the first signs of lymphoma are apparent in the lymph nodes.

There is also:

Lymphoma of the Skin (Cutaneous lymphoma)

Lymphoma of the Stomach or Intestines (Gastrointestinal Lymphoma)

Lymphoma involving organs in the chest (Mediastinal Lymphoma)

Lymphoma can also be broken down by cell type:

There are two forms of white blood cells, or lymphocytes: B cells and T cells (PetMD).

The most common types of lymphoma seen in dogs is B Cell lymphoma.

Lymphoma can also be classified by stage (National Canine Cancer Foundation):

Stage I: Cancer is only in a single lymph node

Stage II: Only affecting one side of the body

Stage III: Enlargement of several lymph nodes

Stage IV: Affecting both the liver and the spleen

Stage V: Cancer is present in the bone marrow, central nervous system, or other non-lymph node region of the body.

What are the signs of lymphoma?

The most common symptom of lymphoma is enlarged, non-painful lymph nodes (Purdue College of Veterinary Medicine).

In addition to swollen lymph nodes, you may notice the following symptoms (PetMD):

Decrease in Appetite

Lethargy

Weight Loss

Pale Mucous Membranes

If your dog is experiencing any of the above symptoms, your veterinarian may recommend a complete laboratory workup and a biopsy.

A lab workup would include bloodwork and a urinalysis. Your veterinarian will be looking for signs of anemia, low levels of lymphocytes, high levels of certain types of while blood cells, and potentially low numbers of platelets (PetMD).

A biopsy will remove part of the lymph node, or other organ, affected by the cancer to be sure there is a definitive diagnosis.

Further testing and diagnostics may be required and recommended.

How is lymphoma treated?

Lymphoma can be treated with chemotherapy.

As a matter of fact, I had two patients in my three years at the hospital that were treated with chemotherapy. While they received their treatment, a technician would sit with them to ensure that the patient was comfortable and that the IV remained in place throughout the course of treatment.

The availability of chemotherapy as a treatment for your dog depends on the type and stage of lymphoma.

Is chemotherapy effective?

According to the National Canine Cancer Foundation, in approximately 60-90% of cases, there is a survival time of 6-12 months. In approximately 20-25% of cases, dogs can live 2+ years after their treatment.

Are Corgis at a higher risk for lymphoma than other breeds?

Although it seems that the Corgi community has been affected by lymphoma recently, there is no published evidence (that I could find) that definitively proves that Corgis are at higher risk than other breeds.

The breeds that are at higher risk for lymphoma include:

Boxers

Bull Mastiffs

Basset Hounds

Saint Bernards

Scottish Terriers

Airedales

Bulldogs

Some sources also included Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Rottweilers and Bouvier des Flandres.

For further information regarding pedigree dogs and cancers, I recommend reading the following PDF: Breed Predispositions to Cancer in Pedigree Dogs. The reading is a bit dense, but it does shed some light on prevalence of cancer in dogs.

Unfortunately, the research states that 28.4% of Pembroke Welsh Corgis in the study passed away from cancer at a median age of 12 years old. However, there was nothing specific regarding lymphoma.

What has been your experience with lymphoma and or chemotherapy?

10 Reasons Why I LOVE Having a Corgi!

Rooney in a banana

Corgis are so fun and so easy to love!

Here are 10 reasons why I LOVE being a CorgMom.

1) Laughter.

On a regular basis Rooney provides my husband and I with love and laughter. He is so goofy and loves to run around and have fun and be care free and we love it!

Rooney funny face

2) Corgi Smiles

Their faces are so expressive, and sometimes it looks like they are smiling 🙂 It brings me so much joy!

RooneySmile

3) Corgi Fluffy Butts

There is just something about those fluffy butts that is just so cute!

CorgiButt

4) Corgi Community

Corgi parents just understand other Corgi parents! The Corgi community, especially here in Northern California, is so close and for that, I am so grateful. It gives me an opportunity to take Rooney to a beach, or a park, and let him play with other dogs who understand him.

RooneyandShasta

5) Corgi Nap time

Rooney loves to take naps with me, and I love to take naps! It so nice to have a dog that is on the same page.

Rooney Napping

6) Corgi Adventures

Corgis are both compact and sturdy. Which means, I can take Rooney running or on hikes. Yet, he still only weighs 30 pounds and therefore isn’t too big for our townhouse. I love it!

Corgi in San Francisco

7) Corgi Feet

There is just something so adorable about Corgi feet

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8) Corgi Ears

Corgi ears are so soft, but be forewarned, they are no indicator of improved listening skills 🙂

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9) Corgi Speak

Corgis will talk to you. They may not use “English words”, but they will make a lot of noise to indicate that they are trying to communicate with you.

Corgi in San Francisco

10) Corgi Smarts

Corgis are really smart and as a result are generally easy to train.

CorgiSmart

What do you love about your dog breed?

Knowledge is Power: Canine HealthCheck

CHC2

On many occasions at the veterinary hospital, a pet was brought in because the pet parent noticed very subtle changes in the pet’s behavior, health, or overall disposition. Sometimes, the changes didn’t mean much, but sometimes they provided critical information that would lead to an early diagnosis of a serious diseases or illness.

Often, these pet parents were able to significantly improve their pet’s overall health and diagnosis because they knew what to look for. As a pet parent, knowing what your dog’s breed is predisposed to, can be valuable information for their overall health.

Canine HealthCheck was created with just that in mind. Providing pet parents with useful and valuable information about their dog’s health. The creators of Canine HealthCheck were inspired to bring pet parents a more valuable alternative to knowing your dog’s breed.

What is Canine HealthCheck?

It is an at-home DNA test that screens your dog for a variety of genetic mutations that cause inherited diseases and traits.

Why is this important?

Because knowing what your dog’s breed is predisposed to is only part of the story. Your dog is an individual with their own genetic makeup. Canine HealthCheck will provide you with the insight you need to predict future health problems and prepare.

The creators of Canine HealthCheck know and believe that Knowledge is Power for every pet parent.

The results of the genetic test can help:

Prepare you for emergencies

Care for the diseases that are treatable

Predict medical problems which can save you money at the vet

and most of all,

Provide you with peace of mind

How did Canine HealthCheck get started?

Lisa Shaffer started Paw Print Genetics in 2012. Prior to starting Paw Print Genetics, she had a full career as a tenured Genetics Professor at the Baylor College of Medicine, and a co-founder of the successful Signature Genomic Laboratories, which was acquired in 2010. Her passion for animals inspired her to start Paw Print Genetics, with a mission to provide high quality genetic testing for the animal community.

 Since Lisa has a background in human genetics diagnostics, she was concerned about the lack of oversight in veterinary genetic testing. She therefore decided to implement standards that are mandated in human genetic testing laboratories, and started Paw Print Genetics to provide diagnostic testing for breeders. Not only was Paw Print Genetics founded by a successful human geneticist, it is also the only laboratory that looks at each mutation region twice, with two independent methods using diagnostic grade DNA. This means that you are receiving a genetic test for your dog that is of the same quality as human genetic testing. Additionally, each test is reviewed by, and reports signed off by, a PhD geneticist and a veterinarian!

What sets Canine HealthCheck apart?

The Canine HealthCheck is an affordable genetic screen that any dog owner can use. It provides valuable information whether your dog is purebred or mixed breed dog. If your dog is found to carry one of the over 150 different mutations screened, you can order the confirmatory test from Paw Print Genetics, using the same DNA that was used for the Canine HealthCheck. You can then give that confirmatory test to your veterinarian and discuss appropriate follow up and care for your dog.

This all sounds great, but how does the test work?

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Its so easy! You can order your very own kit (here) which allows your to swab your dog’s cheek. Once you have completed your cheek swab, you mail back the sample (all needed materials and instructions to mail the sample back are in your kit). Once the lab receives your sample, you receive an email confirming the receipt of your sample.

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You then receive your results within 7-10 days. Your results will be accessible online through the dashboard where your registered your kit.

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Canine HealthCheck will email you when your results are ready. However, because this information can be overwhelming to dog parents, you have access to their on staff veterinarians if you have questions about your dog’s test results.

In my experience, Canine HealthCheck’s customer service was excellent and the system was truly easy to use.

How can Canine HealthCheck help dogs in the future?

Canine HealthCheck gives breeders the opportunity to accurately test for inherited diseases, and provides them with the information to breed away from those diseases.

A great example of this occurs within the Corgi Community.

Most Corgis are predisposed to Degenerative Myelopathy (DM). This disease causes non-inflammatory degeneration of the white matter in the spinal cord. This means that Corgis with DM start to lose functionality in the back end, which limits their mobility.

As of now, a very high percentage of Corgis test positive for DM, Rooney included. Below is a small subset of his total results.

Canine-Health-Check-1

What does this mean for us?

Well, I need to be aware of the early signs of DM, and try to protect Rooney’s back as much as I can. Not all dogs that test positive for this disease will get the disease, but I plan to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

What does this mean for Corgi parents everywhere?

It means that we need to make sure Corgi breeders (and other breeders) are breeding away from these diseases. Just because the instance of DM is high now, doesn’t mean that it needs to be high in the future.

I challenge pet parents to urge breeders to use the Canine HealthCheck, and improve the lives our dogs.

Do you believe that the Knowledge provided by Canine HealthCheck can empower pet parents?

Disclaimer: We were given the opportunity to try Canine HealthCheck in exchange for our honest opinion. My Kid Has Paws only discusses products and services that we believe will provide value to pet parents.

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