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Common Corgi Health Issues

By Mawoo Pets · 28 Mar · 7 mins read
Common Corgi Health Issues

With their adorable stature, perky ears, and delightful double coats, corgis have charmed their way into countless households. Their spirited demeanor and loyal companionship make them a favorite amongst dog lovers. Yet, like any breed, these small giants come with their own set of health challenges. Some are genetic, passed down from generation to generation, while others are influenced by environmental factors and lifestyle. 

In this article, we're dedicated to help you unravel the unique health issues common amongst corgis. We'll do a review of both genetic and non-genetic concerns, identifying symptoms to be alert for, and providing you with crucial information on preventative actions. Our hope is that by being well-informed, you can better support your Corgi's longevity and quality of life. 

Genetic & Hereditary Conditions in Corgis

1. Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)

IVDD occurs when the discs between the vertebrae bulge or herniate into the spinal cord space, causing pain and nerve damage, which can develop into paralysis. Corgis are particularly prone to IVDD due to their long backs and short legs. Symptoms to look out for include a reluctance to jump, pain and weakness in the rear legs, crying out in pain, or even dragging the back legs. Surgical treatment options are often considered, coupled with strict rest and physiotherapy.

2. Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a common genetic concern in both the Pembroke and Cardigan Welsh Corgis. This medical condition occurs when there's a deformity in the hip joint's ball and socket, leading to pain and mobility issues. Due to the long, low-to-ground breed stature of Corgis, they're particularly susceptible to this condition. Symptoms to look out for are discomfort while running or climbing, noticeable limping, and overall stiffness, particularly after exercise. It's crucial for corgi owners and breeders to pay attention to hip health; breeding dogs should be tested for this disease, and those affected should not be bred, as hip issues can have a considerable impact on the quality of a dog's life and longevity.

3. Degenerative Myelopathy (DM) 

A serious condition that's typically found in older Corgis is Degenerative Myelopathy, which is a progressive deterioration of the spinal cord. Approximately 1.5% of Pembroke Welsh Corgis are affected by DM. This condition, akin to ALS in humans, starts with an unsteady gait and mild weakness in the back legs. Over time, these symptoms can progress into paralysis. DM is caused by an autoimmune reaction where the body's defense system attacks its own cells in the spinal cord. Unfortunately, there's no known cure for Degenerative Myelopathy, and the management involves making your Corgi as comfortable as possible as the disease progresses. 

4. Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

Progressive Retinal Atrophy is an inherited disease that impairs the retina, causing progressive vision loss that eventually leads to blindness. Cardigan Corgis are particularly genetically susceptible to PRA, but the condition is also present in Pembroke Corgis given their relatedness to Cardigan Corgis. Early symptoms to look out for include night blindness or dilated pupils. While there isn't any cure for PRA, Corgis with the condition can generally adapt well to their limited or lost vision, as long as their environment remains the same. 

5. Von Willebrand's Disease (vWD)

vWD is an inherited blood-clotting disorder common in Corgis. About 6% of Pembroke Corgis are affected by or at-risk of developing vWD. Similar to Hemophilia in humans, dogs with vWD are prone to excessive bleeding even from minor injuries. Symptoms to look out for include nosebleeds, blood in the urine or stools, or excessive bleeding after a minor cut or accident. Unfortunately, there's no cure for vWD, but it can be managed effectively with appropriate veterinary care and precautions. Early detection is key for this condition. 

6. Exercise-Induced Collapse (EIC)

Exercise-Induced Collapse (EIC) is a genetic neurologic disorder in dogs which causes weakness or absolute collapse after intense exercise. In Corgis, this is common due to their inherent genetic predisposition to this condition. Symptoms of EIC often manifest after a few minutes of high-intensity exercises such as agility training or prolonged play – they include a wavering gait or labored breathing. Reducing the frequency and intensity of intense exercises, and ensuring your Corgi rests adequately between periods of exertion, can help you manage this health issue.

7. Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA)

Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA), although named after the Collie breed, is an inherited eye disorder commonly present in herding breeds, including Corgis. This genetic eye disorder leads to the abnormal development of the eye, causing impaired vision or blindness. The symptoms can be somewhat tricky to spot, and might not be visible until your Corgi experiences critical vision loss. So routine veterinary eye exams are the best way to diagnose the condition early. It's imperative to have your Corgi screened for CEA. It's even more important that responsible Corgi breeders do such screening, as the focus is on identification and responsible breeding to diminish the prevalence of the disorder in this breed.

8. Canine Epilepsy

Canine epilepsy is a neurological disorder common in Corgis, characterized by recurring, unpredictable seizures. Affected dogs may display a range of behavioral symptoms such as running frantically as though chased, staggering as if intoxicated, falling into a rigid state, hiding, or even losing consciousness. If your Corgi is diagnosed, he or she may be prescribed long-term medication and frequent blood testing, as anti-epileptic drugs are sometimes required for dogs experiencing monthly seizures. In general, with the right medical management, dogs with epilepsy can live reasonably normal lives

Non-Genetic Corgi Health Issues

1. Obesity

Corgis are predisposed to obesity, largely due to their dwarf breed classification, which couples a long body with relatively short legs. Their stocky body type is prone to weight gain, and excessive weight can lead to other health issues like heart disease, increased stress on joints, and diabetes. Monitor your corgi's weight carefully, assess their body condition regularly and avoid overfeeding. Healthy exercise is vital to maintain a healthy weight in this herding breed.

2. Allergies

Allergies are common in a range of dog breeds, including Corgis. These could range from food allergies to environmental allergens like dust, mold, and pollen. In Corgis, allergies often manifest themselves as a skin condition. This is because the allergen triggers an immune response in their body, leading to inflammation and irritation of the skin. Symptoms to watch out for are recurrent itching, red and inflamed skin, hair loss, and hot spots. The corgi may also react to certain foods with gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea and vomiting. It's essential to consult a vet if allergy symptoms are noticed so that the allergen can be identified and eliminated, and the inflammation treated with medication if needed. 

3. Dental Disease

Dental disease is a common issue corgis may face and it often starts with tartar build-up. This is due to a combination of breed susceptibility, diet, and oral hygiene practices. If not managed, it can lead to painful inflammation of the gums, commonly known as gingivitis, and can also result in severe periodontal diseases. You need to be watchful of symptoms such as bad breath, difficulty eating, yellowing teeth, and bloody saliva. Remember, prevention is always better than cure! Regular teeth brushing, providing vet-approved dental chews, and routine veterinary dental check-ups are some of the ways to ensure your corgi maintains good oral health.

4. Heat Sensitivity

Known for their fluffy coats and compact statures, Corgis aren't the best at handling extreme temperatures, particularly the heat. This sensitivity comes as a result of their thick double coat which is designed to protect them from the cold but becomes counterproductive in hot weather. Symptoms you need to keep an eye out for include excessive panting, lack of energy, drooling, and in severe cases, vomiting or diarrhea. It's critical to remember heat can be a serious threat to Corgis, necessitating measures such as providing ample shade and water, avoiding walks during the heat of the day, and never leaving your furry friend in a parked car.

5. Ear Infections

Ear infections can often plague Corgis due to the structural layout of their droopy ears, which can trap moisture and debris and creating a suitable environment for bacteria, yeast, and ear mites - the main culprits behind ear infections. Symptoms you should look out for include excessive scratching of the ears, unpleasant odor from the ears, head shaking, or any visible redness within the ear canal. Regular cleaning of your corgi's ears is advised to keep infections at bay, and if symptoms persist, a visit to the vet is recommended.

6. Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)

Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) are another common health issue in Corgis. These infections happen when bacteria ascend the urethral canal, reaching and infecting the urinary bladder. UTIs can be especially prevalent in Corgis due to their short stature, which brings them closer to the ground and increases their exposure to bacteria. Tell-tale signs of a UTI include frequent urination, noticeably painful or difficult urination, clouded or strong-smelling urine, and general signs of discomfort in your Corgi, like loss of appetite or listlessness. It's vital to be aware of these symptoms because, if left untreated, a UTI can escalate into kidney problems. 

7. Intestinal Issues

Intestinal problems are often a common issue in corgis due to their sensitive digestive system. These issues might range from minor gastrointestinal disturbances, such as diarrhea and constipation, to critical conditions like pancreatitis or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Look out for symptoms like vomiting, frequent diarrhea, weight loss, a decrease in appetite, and visible discomfort during defecation. If you observe these signs, it's important to visit your vet in quick order. Dietary changes or medications may be necessary depending on the diagnosis.

Recognizing Early Signs of Corgi Health Issues

Here are some key early signs of health issues to look out for. Keep a vigilant eye on your Corgi for these early warning signs, and make a quick visit to the vet if any are noted.

Changes in Eating Habits 

It's important to take note if your pup suddenly changes their normal food consumption. If they are eating less or skipping meals altogether, this could indicate an underlying health condition including infections, digestive issues, or dental disease. Symptoms to look out for include loss of appetite or unusual weight loss. The reverse can also be alarming, where your pup is suddenly eating much more or suddenly gains weight. 

Lethargy or Unusual Fatigue

As a herding breed, Corgis are known for their high energy levels. If you notice that your Corgi is unusually tired, lethargic, or less active, it could signal a health issue. Conditions such as obesity, infection, heart problems, and even canine epilepsy could be potential causes. Symptoms to look out for include a reluctance to exercise, change in sleep patterns, or lack of enthusiasm for activities they previously enjoyed. If the lethargy is severe - like if your Corgi is so tired that she can't stand or walk - then it's possibly an emergency requiring an immediate vet visit.

Skin or Coat Changes

Healthy Corgis should have a shiny and smooth coat. Any changes to this coat, such as dry, flaky, or oily skin, patches of hair loss, or an increase in scratching could indicate an underlying health issue. Common causes of these symptoms include allergies, skin conditions, or even parasitic infestations.  

Difficulty Breathing

If your corgi seems to be struggling to breathe, don't take it lightly. This could signify a number of serious conditions like heart disease, lung issues or heat sensitivity. Underlying genetic conditions like intervertebral disc disease may also result in similar symptoms. Specific symptoms to look out for include gasping, panting more than usual, or nostril flaring.

Preventative Care for Your Corgi

Regular Vet Checks

Regular vet checks are indispensable in maintaining your corgi's health. Establish a schedule with your vet for routine vaccinations, deworming, and flea and tick prevention. Don't forget to mention any changes in your pet's behavior and habits to your veterinarian as it may signal early stages of adversity. 

A Balanced Diet

A balanced diet is another critical factor in ensuring the well-being of your furry friend. Be mindful not to overfeed them, as corgis are prone to obesity. Their food should be nutritious, balanced, and proportionately sized according to their age, size, and activity level. Always consult your vet before introducing any new food into your corgi's diet. 

Daily Exercise

Corgis are an energetic breed developed to herd sheep, and so daily exercise is essential for their physical and mental health. Engage your pet in a good amount of daily exercise with a mix of walks, playtime, and training sessions. This not only helps keep them in shape but also stimulates mentally, reducing the likelihood of destructive behaviors borne out of boredom. 

Dental & Coat Care

Last but not least, dental and coat care are often overlooked aspects of a corgi's health. Regularly brush your corgi's teeth to prevent dental disease and ensure their coat is always clean and shiny by brushing it daily. Regular bathing can also help manage shedding and keep their skin and coat healthy. Don't forget those nails too - regular trims can help prevent infections and injuries.

Conclusion

So, there you have it. A comprehensive overview of common health conditions that can affect our beloved Corgis. From genetic illnesses like IVDD and Hip Dysplasia to non-genetic problems such as Obesity and Dental Disease, these cuddly canines can face a host of health issues. 

As we've discussed, spotting early signs is crucial in preventing or managing these conditions. Whether it's a change in eating habits, unusual fatigue, or more glaring issues like difficulty breathing, your keen observation skills can make a world of difference in your Corgi's health.

Further, the importance of genetic testing cannot be overstated. It offers invaluable information about your Corgi's susceptibility to certain conditions and can drive the path of preventative health measures you decide to take. Regular vet checks, a balanced diet, and daily exercise also provide you with the peace of mind that you're doing everything you can to secure your pet's health. 

Why go to all this extent, you ask? Because, being a Corgi parent is not just about enjoying their unwavering companionship and their delightfully feisty characters. It also involves ensuring that they are happy and healthy and are with us for a good, long time. And truly, in the light of their unwavering loyalty and love, that's the least we can do.

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