View Full Version : Question regarding SM

14th November 2007, 09:23 PM
Hello everyone,

My name is Bernie and I'm new to the board. I currently own a female blenheim cavi named Ginger and rescued a tri-color male named Charley. He's been with us since April. When we rescued him the only information that we received from the rescue is that he came from a puppymill and spent much of his time in a wire cage. When we got him he had a little hunch to his back, and wasn't very coordinated. For example, he had a hard time going up and down steps, climbing the sofa.......etc. The vet said that it could be due to underdevelopment from being caged all the time.

For the last month i've noticed that when I walk him he stops and scratches the right side of his body but seems to scratch the air not his actual body. He does it on the right side only. I have also noticed that he has a tendency to hop as well. He does all this while on the lead. I've never noticed it at home. So I ran a google search and came up with syringomyelia. Now he doesn't do this during all his walks. For example, yesterday he didn't do it at all. I've been keeping a journal and monitoring him. When I touch him (his neck, back) he doesn't seem to be in any kind of pain, and doesn't scream as if he was.

I'm sorry for the long post, but I guess my question is how does one really now if their dog has it without going through an MRI? Assuming that he does, is there a supplement that I can give him or is there something I can do now to help him in the future? I don't want to jump the gun but am a little worried being that SM does affect the breed. Any information would be greatlyt appreciated!


14th November 2007, 09:55 PM
Hi Bernie and welcome to the board. I'm so sorry to read about your concerns for Charley.

The first step is to have a look at the info site, http://sm.cavaliertalk.com/

There is lots of useful information there, including documents you can print out to take to your vet.

Arrange a visit to your vet, and take this info with you - sadly not all vets are aware of this horrid condition, it is still quite rare in many breeds, but sadly not in the Cavalier.

There are oother things that most vets will want to rule out first, such as ear mites, etc; you have been very sensible in keeping a journal, as this is very helpful.

The definite diganosis is by MRI, but generally a consultation with a neurologist would probably give you a pretty good idea of whether this is Charley's problem.

The condition can be managed medically - with drugs; there are also complementary therapies that may be helpful; or with surgery, depending on the age of the dog and the severity of the symptoms.

Please keep us posted and feel free to ask any questions, sadly quite a few of us live with affected dogs - I actually have three, varying in severity from very mild to moderate/severe.

Gentle hugs for Charley.

Cathy T
15th November 2007, 12:59 AM
Hi Bernie - just wanted to second the advice Nicki has given. She has lots of experience and knowledge so am glad she saw your message and was able to respond. Please let us know how Charley is doing.

15th November 2007, 01:16 AM
here here keep us up to date pls

15th November 2007, 05:35 AM
Hi Bernie -- I would say this does unfortunately sound like it is likely to be SM. That bunny hop gait and the air scratching are very distinctive to SM alone -- not all dogs with SM show these symptoms but I am not aware of any other condition that produces those symptoms. Symptoms often come and go as well -- my SM dog Leo does this on and off on walks and has moderate SM and is on medication. He rarely bunny hops or air scratches off lead.

On the basis of all those symptoms I'd be looking for an appointment with a neurologist familiar with the condition as a vet alone cannot really do much to try and find other causes of these particular symptoms. An MRI is the only definitive way to diagnose. If you go to cavalierhealth.org there's a list of neurologists with those familiar with SM highlighted in red. On my own site, www.smcavalier.com, I list some of the low cost MRI clinics though there are very few in the US. You are however very close to one of the best -- Long Island Vet Specialists, www.livs.org. I'd highly recommend contacting them and seeing Dr Marino. Hre's the info from my site:

US clinics
Long Island Veterinary Specialists (LIVS): LIVS offer a special package of tests including an MRI, BAER hearing testing, and a thermography scan and a consultation for around $500 per dog in groups of three or more (contact them to discuss rates for individual dogs). They plan to offer a CT scan as well as part of this programme which will also produce information for research -- LIVS hopes to be able to find ways of diagnosing SM without the need for an MRI. Owners get copies of scans plus an evaluation and a grade according to the breeding protocol, plus a certificate. For more information, contact Dr. Dominic Marino, LIVS, 163 South Service Road, Plainview, NY, 11803. Phone (516) 501-1700 (ask for Alexis), or email Bongorno@aol.com. Website: http://www.livs.org; information on SM and MRI clinic: http://www.livs.org/livsnews.htm

I beieve the current cost is $600. Good luck and let us know what you hear back.

15th November 2007, 02:33 PM
Thanks again for all the information. I was hoping that there could have been another (not so serious) disorder/problem that mimic those same symptoms but I really rather now for sure if he does indeed have SM so that I can start him on something quickly. Thanks for the great information, I now atleast feel like I'm on the right track and have some info. to take to the vet with me so that I can get a referral to a neurologist.

Thanks for all the great links as well. I will keep everyone posted.


15th November 2007, 04:55 PM
I'd talk to your vet definitely, but if nothing else seems a possible cause I'd just call LIVS directly and see if you can get him done on the low cost scheme -- I don't think you will need a vet referral and Dr Marino and Dr Dewey at LIVS are two of the leading experts on SM in cavaliers. You would pay at minimum twice what they charge to MRI anywhere else and you'll be in the best possible hands. :)Many people travel halfway across the US to have them see their cavaliers. :thmbsup:

15th November 2007, 05:56 PM
Bernie, best of luck with Charley. So glad he found his way to you.

Thinking of all these beautiful, sweet dogs with SM is heartbreaking. I know MRIs are expensive but I do not think people can call themselves responsible breeders any longer if they do not screen the dam and sire for not just MVD but also SM. And what to do about the puppy mills? It will take legislative intervention and a willingness to enforce new laws and I just do not see it happening any time soon. In the meantime all we as lovers of the breed can do is be personal ambassadors and educate as many people as we can. It will not be enough but it will be something.

The verdict is still out on Buddy. His little yelps have almost disappeared since he had the PSOM surgery so I am hopeful we are in the clear. We continue to watch carefully and give him an extra hug every night.