Corgis are not a particularly common breed these days but Suzy is the 3rd generation of Corgi I have treated belonging to the same owner.
Suzy, like her 2 predecessors, is a happy little dog and always trots into my consulting room on her little short legs with her bushy tail wagging.
Sadly, Suzy’s two predecessors both developed heart problems and suffered from fluid retention so when Suzy started to develop a swollen abdomen, her owner was very concerned that history might be repeating itself.
On examination, Suzy’s tummy did feel unusually large. With their short legs, Corgis don’t have a lot of ground clearance but Suzy’s abdomen was very nearly touching the ground. I carefully felt into to depths of her abdomen.
A technique called “abdominal ballottement” can be used where the abdomen is compressed and, if there is free fluid in the abdomen, the organs swing through the abdomen and can be felt by a hand placed on the opposite side of the abdomen. When I performed this test, I could not feel any evidence of fluid.
Suzy’s owner was relieved when I explained that I could not find any evidence of fluid and I did not think that she was following the same route as the previous dogs but she was astonished when I explained that I suspected that Suzy was just getting fat.
Suzy is, typically for a Corgi, a very greedy dog but her owner explained how she rationed her feed and promised me that she did not give her any treats. The feed ration certainly did not seem to be excessive.
I suggested that we perform an Ultrasound Scan to be certain that the abdomen was indeed swollen with fat reserves and not fluid. Suzy’s owner asked that we do the scan as she needed to be certain that nothing more serious was going on. This was duly performed and the scan confirmed fat not fluid.
Suzy’s owner went home relieved but slightly confused that Suzy was putting on so much weight.
The next day I had a phone call from Suzy’s owner. She had been watching Suzy very carefully that morning and was astonished to see Suzy making her way down the very steep steps from a terraced area of her garden that her owner did not think her little legs would allow her to reach.
I had broken off from a busy surgery to come to the phone and was unsure how important this revelation was until she explained that she used that area of the garden to feed a local fox. Suzy had been spotted waddling down the garden steps licking her lips after her daily excursion to the top of the garden to add a dozen sausages to her daily intake!