Wednesday, January 7, 2015

My Corgi Awstin tested At Risk for Degenerative Myelopathy

It has been a long time since I have posted any blog entries. It has been 2 1/2 years since Llyr went to The Rainbow Bridge due to DM. It has been a difficult time on so many levels, but I am blessed to be owned by a wonderful Corgi named Awstin! Just like me. Awstin had difficulties dealing with Llyr's passing. Dogs mourn too in their own way. He is now 9 years 3 months old. He is a sweet, wonderful and playful boy and I love him dearly!


In December of 2013 I had his DNA tested for DM and he came back At Risk. I was heartbroken to receive this news. Even though being At Risk does not mean he will develop DM it does mean the possibility is there.  At this time there is still no way to prevent or cure DM, but there are some things that are important that may help your Corgi in case the symptoms of DM develop. I will preface this by saying that this is important for any Corgis good health.

Keep your Corgis weight under control. An overweight Corgi can cause many health problems, but if your Corgi is overweight and develops symptoms of DM it will be much more difficult on him or her when your Corgi needs to use a cart. Awstin weighs 23.5 pounds. Proper weight may vary some and this is best discussed with your Veterinarian. The highest that Awstin should be is 24 pounds. Despite his typical "starving Corgi" attitude I have been able to keep him at his proper weight. All dog owners know "that look" that our dogs give us! Those sweet eyes begging for more. Yes, we all give in at times, but remember you are your Corgis health advocate on so many levels. Many aspects of your Corgis health may be out of your control, but maintaining a healthy weight is one of the easiest to handle. Feed the best quality of food that you can and limit treats. Like Llyr, one of Awstin's favorite treats is Cheerios. They are low calorie and he can have extra without it hurting his weight. So find a low calorie treat that your Corgi likes. Awstin also loves green beans and carrots. If you have a Corgi that is more selective about what they like this may be more of a challenge, but there is not much that Awstin will not eat!

Along with weight control exercise is always important. Walking is the obvious, but any activity that your Corgi enjoys counts. One of Awstin's favorite activities is fetch. He will fetch almost anything. Balls, toys you name it he will run and fetch it. Swimming is also good exercise and Awstin has been doing weekly underwater treadmill session for almost a year. We still have our sessions at West Chester Veterinary Rehabilitation Speciality Center. From past posts you know that I love the people there and now Awstin does too. He does 20 minute sessions at varying speeds. This helps maintain his weight and also gives this "Helicopter Mom" extra eyes to pick up any possible changes in his gait and early signs of DM. Not everybody has access to rehabilitation facilities so just remember to keep up a good exercise program whatever that may be.

After Llyr went to The Rainbow Bridge one of the first things I did was have a Senior panel blood work panel done on Awstin. He was not quite a Senior, but I wanted a good baseline for the future. Gratefully, everything was fine, but this brings me to my next point. A yearly check up by your Veterinarian is always a good idea.

I am hoping and praying that Awstin does not develop symptoms of DM, but if he does we will face this together just like I did with Llyr. This brings me to my last point of this post. How I felt when Awstin's DNA test for DM came back At Risk..... First and foremost I will say again this does NOT mean your Corgi will develop DM. I was scared and still am at the thought that Awstin may develop this horrid disease called DM. I don't know how anyone could not think about it. It will always be in the back of my mind when he takes a misstep, but I try and remember that I am doing everything I can to keep Awstin in good health. Try no to let the thoughts on the possibility of DM consume you because that will take away from quality time that you spend together. For me, I remind myself that each and every day Awstin and I are together is a gift and we plan on living life to the fullest!

I am not sure where this blog will go, but hopefully it will just be about life with Awstin and not another journey with DM. I also would like to be able to help people stay current with what is going on  with research into DM and that will be in future posts. So for now Corgi on and Corgi strong!

                                            Awstin with his favorite Auntie Cheryl
                                      at West Chester Veterinary Speciality Center