1) Idiopathic EpilepsyEpilepsy is a condition that causes seizures. Border collies are one of the breeds that have a relatively high incidence of idiopathic epilepsy. Idiopathic means that the epileptic seizures occur for no clear reason; there is no detectable brain injury or chemical condition to cause the seizures. A dog with epilepsy will often seem distressed for some period of time prior to a seizure. That period of time might be minutes, hours, or even days. Though such episodes can occur at any time, more dogs have seizures in the evening or during rest periods than during the day or while engaging in some form of activity. Some border collies with this type of epilepsy will have seizures at a fairly consistent frequency, while others will have them randomly. If your dog is having seizures, which are marked by periods of stiffness, twitching, and temporary unconsciousness, you should take them to your veterinarian immediately. If it is the first seizure, go to the closest emergency veterinary hospital if it is a weekend or after hours. The vet will perform testing to find out if there is a physical issue. If not, idiopathic epilepsy will likely be diagnosed. Your dog will probably have to take phenobarbital or another anti-seizure medication for the rest of their life.
Another health concern that affects many border collies is hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism means that their thyroid does not produce enough of the hormones needed for optimal health. Some signs that your border collie might have hypothyroidism include dry skin, dull coat, weight gain, hair loss, aggression, and behavioral changes. Diagnosis is a simple blood test. If your border collie has hypothyroidism, your veterinarian can prescribe medication to balance out their thyroid hormones, and the symptoms should resolve over several weeks. Sometimes the dosage needs to be tweaked a few times. When the right dosage is discovered, periodic blood testing will be needed to be sure that the hormones are at the correct levels. Your dog will need to take the medication for the rest of their life.
3) Osteochondritis DissecansOsteochondritis dissecans is a disease of the joints that can affect many large breeds but is particularly prevalent in border collies. The condition causes swelling, pain, and lameness. It is most common in puppies under 1 year of age, so if you notice limping, pain, or swelling in one or more limbs, take your pup to the vet. There are some steps you can take to reduce the chances that your border collie will develop the disease.
- Feed them food formulated for large breed puppies. Puppy food that is not made specifically for large breeds can provide too many nutrients at once, stimulating your pup to grow too quickly and increasing their risk of developing the condition.
- Don’t exercise your pup excessively. Going for a 5-mile run on the road is bad for your young border collie’s joints. Instead, let your puppy play on the grass or limit walks to short distances until your puppy is a year old.