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Andy's mum
17th January 2008, 07:47 PM
Hi, I've read plenty of threads about SM and I'm starting to worry that Andy has got some symptoms. He is 8 and half months and seems healthy and happy, hi's playing all the time and eats well, but I'm still not sure if everything is alright.
Hi's scratching himself, but not just left side or air, it seems to me it's the normal dog thing - it itches so I'm going to scratch it. He does it mostly in the morning after he wakes up and sometimes during the day as well. But what worries me more is that sometimes he yelps with no reason like something is hurting him and runs straight to me for hug and kiss. He did it when he was small, then stoped and started again like three weeks ago. It dosn't seem normal to me:( Could this be sympom of SM?
And also: He is 8 and half months, is he too young to take him to vet to check his heart and for SM symptoms? What is the age when vet can give you "all clear"? What is the optimal age for operation, if he has SM? And since Karlin lives in Ireland, do you know some good vet specializing in SM? We live in Co.Kerry, so maybe somewhere close?
Thank you very much... Petra.

maneumann
17th January 2008, 10:58 PM
It could be SM, my dog Jack Sprat was diagnosed at 5 months. From the time we got him at 3 months he scratched a lot. At first we thought he had allegories (I even joked that he was OCD), and the mornings were always the most intense itching. He was also crying out for no reason on occasion and bunny hopped when on a lead wearing a collar. The only way to know for sure if the symptoms are mild is is an MRI and they can scan your dog at any age. Just to be safe, I would also get your dog a step-in-harness and get rid of the collar.

I hope it is not SM, it is heartbreaking to know your baby is in pain. Jack gets weekly acupuncture which has really helped him with the symptoms in addition to the medication.

Karlin
18th January 2008, 12:45 AM
Hi Petra:

I'd tend to think this is probably something else -- have you had him to the vet? Checked for all the possible things that could have him scratching? Fleas? Flea allergies (dermatitis)? Ear mites? Rabbit mites? Skin problems? ear infections? There are a lot of things to go through first. As for the yelping, at that age, pups will often yip and run around... is he showing any other sign of pain? Does he look like he is distressed at the time or is he running to you playfully?

Sm scratching tends to get increasingly intense, in longer and longer sessions. Have you viewed the videos I have on the SM website (link is pinned at the top of this forum)? You can see typical SM body contact scratching with Leo, my dog. Even if I call to him he won't usually stop if he is in the midst of an SM scratching session. He was beginning to tear out a lot of hair in one ear.

The SM site, www.smcavalier.com, has a section I wrote on steps to take if you think your dog might have SM. I'd go talk to your vet, and print out the documents on the SM site. A lot of vets will have read about the condition in the Irish Vet Journal last January when an article appeared.

If your vet can not find any reason for things you are concerned about and you have symptoms that begin to give you serious concern, then you'll probably want to get an MRI. The cheapest place to do this is to go to one of the low cost clinics in the UK -- but that doesn't really sound like it should be on the cards right now. UCD is the only vet school with an MRI machine but it is a mobile machine so that is another alternative but they cost about €1000.

If this is SM, you will start to see more definitive scratching almost certainly (initial SM scratching tends to worsen or turn into air scratching as well for example). For now, I'd walk him on a harness, not a collar (but he will need a collar and tags on, I just never use my dogs' collars for walking)-- that's general advice for cavaliers anyway.

I'd not be too concerned though unless you start to see some clearer potential symptoms than these or unless the yelping definitely seems to be from pain -- in which case he needs to see a vet anyway to find the cause. Any time a dog is showing pain, a trip to the vet is in immediate order. He could have luxating patellas, a slipped disk, a pulled muscle -- lots of different things that should be checked. SM would be far more unlikely in an 8 month old dog.

Theresa
18th January 2008, 01:14 AM
For now, I'd walk him on a harness, not a collar (but he will need a collar and tags on, I just never use my dogs' collars for walking)-- that's general advice for cavaliers anyway.


Is that right Karlin? I haven't heard that before. Why is that especially for cavaliers?

Karlin
20th January 2008, 01:31 AM
Because the incidence of syringomyelia is so high in the breed (researchers predict 30-70% will eventually develop syrinxes, though most don't seem to become symptomatic or noticeably symptomatic), and most syrinxes develop in the neck region. A couple of neurologists feel that walking on a collar could possibly worsen existing syrinxes or contribute to their development because of the tugging and pressure. Also almost all cavaliers have the skull malformation that causes their skulls to be too small for their brains and for some, this causes the brain to be forced out the base of the skull into the spine. :( This would make the neck area sensitive as well. A harness shifts pressure off the neck to the chest.

Many vets feel that small breeds should be walked on harnesses anyway and that their tracheas can be damaged by pulling on a collar. It is also much easier to quickly grab and lift a dog wearing a harness than a collar if the dog is threatened, especially a puppy. A harness needs to be properly fitted though -- too loose and the dog can slip out of it. I feel well fitting step-in harnesses and Puppia jacket style harnesses are the most secure.

However regarding SM dogs, some are actually more comfortable on a collar -- not many as most start scratching when there's pulling on the collar, a pretty clear sign that it is uncomfortable. Some cannot even wear collars at all, as they're too uncomfortable.

http://www.helpinganimals.com/animalsHome_dogs_collar.asp

Theresa
20th January 2008, 10:58 PM
Thanks Karlin. I walk my schnauzer on a harness because she has just has cataract surgery but I didn't know about this for cavs. I am off to Pets at Home first thing in the morning to buy her a harness!! Thanks for the advice. x:):):)

Andy's mum
26th January 2008, 06:20 PM
Thanks very much, all of you, especially Karlin. I've contacted the lady from whitch we got Andy and she checked the medical history in Andy's family and it looks alright;) I'm still watching him all the time, but I'm not worried that much now. And we ordered Puppia for him, I think hi will have few of them, because I just love the colors:-) So thanks again!!!

Karlin
26th January 2008, 06:29 PM
Unfortunately you really cannot rely on what breeders say. Most lose track of 95% of the puppies they place and most owners do not contact the breeder to tell them when their dogs have health problems, and breeders only keep a tiny percentage of dogs ogff their own breeding to see their behaviours (and many kennel them and are not constantly around the dogs anyway so really would be likely to miss symptoms that are often more prevalent in the morning and during the night). Also many vets misdiagnose this condition because they do not realise they should check for it so owners of affected dogs do not know this is what their cavalier has. Only in the last year after a story ran in the Irish Vet Journal are the vast majority of Irish vets even familiar with the condition and that there's a high degree of affectedness in cavaliers.

So you probably have to consider the breeder's input to be negligible. AS far as I know my own would never have had an owner return and say a dog of their breeding had SM. If I didn't know what to watch for and hadn;t had Leo MRId I am sure a vet would be treating him for allergies.

So the most important thing to do is monitor him for any changes or increase in the behaviours you are wondering about. Air scratching in particular really has almost no other cause so that can be the first indication many have that they definitely need to look into SM, but only about half of all affected dogs scratch (either with contact or without).

As I said most likely there are other causes given Andy's young age. :) And as long as the vet is aware of the condition and you know what to keep an eye out for, that's the most important thing. Unfortunately, with this breed the condition is very prevalent in what looks to be the majority of dogs. Fortunately though, most do not seem to become symptomatic indicating they somehow can cope with the changes to their anatomy.

The key thing now is to hope there's more support for research and raise general awareness so that breeders will have the knowledge to help them breed away from the condition over time. Unfortunately the Irish breed club does nothing that I have been aware of for their membership in this regard at this time. :(

Bridam
27th January 2008, 12:04 AM
Unfortunately you really cannot rely on what breeders say. Most lose track of 95% of the puppies they place and most owners do not contact the breeder to tell them when their dogs have health problems, and breeders only keep a tiny percentage of dogs ogff their own breeding to see their behaviours (and many kennel them and are not constantly around the dogs anyway so really would be likely to miss symptoms that are often more prevalent in the morning and during the night). Also many vets misdiagnose this condition because they do not realise they should check for it so owners of affected dogs do not know this is what their cavalier has. Only in the last year after a story ran in the Irish Vet Journal are the vast majority of Irish vets even familiar with the condition and that there's a high degree of affectedness in cavaliers.

So you probably have to consider the breeder's input to be negligible. AS far as I know my own would never have had an owner return and say a dog of their breeding had SM. If I didn't know what to watch for and hadn;t had Leo MRId I am sure a vet would be treating him for allergies.

So the most important thing to do is monitor him for any changes or increase in the behaviours you are wondering about. Air scratching in particular really has almost no other cause so that can be the first indication many have that they definitely need to look into SM, but only about half of all affected dogs scratch (either with contact or without).

As I said most likely there are other causes given Andy's young age. :) And as long as the vet is aware of the condition and you know what to keep an eye out for, that's the most important thing. Unfortunately, with this breed the condition is very prevalent in what looks to be the majority of dogs. Fortunately though, most do not seem to become symptomatic indicating they somehow can cope with the changes to their anatomy.

The key thing now is to hope there's more support for research and raise general awareness so that breeders will have the knowledge to help them breed away from the condition over time. Unfortunately the Irish breed club does nothing that I have been aware of for their membership in this regard at this time. :(

Ha ha. We bought our dog from a reliable and recommended breeder. We called her just to let her know that our dog with diagnosed with sm with an mri. She asked me if we had her ears cleaned out. I was slightly peaved.

maneumann
27th January 2008, 10:34 PM
Our breeder was also totally shocked and unaware of a history of SM in either the sire (one of the top dogs in the US show circuit) or bitch. And to her credit she has been so proactive - she not only paid for Jack's MRI, but she also had his mother MRIed and is now committed to doing that for all of her breeding stock. She also called all of the other families that adopted puppies from his litter.

Bridam
27th January 2008, 10:53 PM
Our breeder was also totally shocked and unaware of a history of SM in either the sire (one of the top dogs in the US show circuit) or bitch. And to her credit she has been so proactive - she not only paid for Jack's MRI, but she also had his mother MRIed and is now committed to doing that for all of her breeding stock. She also called all of the other families that adopted puppies from his litter.

Sounds like a great breeder. As I stated above, my breeder had no idea of what I was talking about. I just don't know if there are any clean lines out there.

Cathy T
28th January 2008, 12:25 AM
Sounds like a great breeder


You really did get a good one!! I've heard of owners letting breeders know they have a problem and being asked to please not say anything to anyone like it might ruin their reputation. With all of the problems this breed has it would be unrealstic to expect a breeder to never have a single problem. But....I've heard this claim before.

maneumann
28th January 2008, 04:57 AM
She has been great. But it was very hard on her, becuase people do "talk" and she told me that most breeders try to hide it. But if this genetic condition is going to be addressed and avoided, then people have to start fessing up becuase it does not seem like there are many/any "clean" lines. And if SM is getting worse as speculated with subsequent generations, then education is the best hope.

natalieandmike
28th January 2008, 03:31 PM
I have to put in a good word for our breeder as well. As soon as she learned of Bianca's diagnosis (although no history, as far as she knows, of SM in the sire and dam's pedigree as well), she was with us every step of the way. Although she didn't pay for Bianca's MRI (we told her we had health insurance), she's getting all stud dogs she's using MRi'ed. Luckily or not (depending how you think about it) Bianca's mum needed a C-section for her delivery, so she had been spayed anyway. All other owners were notified. Like you say, it is very hard with this 'stigma' so I have protected her name, though I feel she is a great person. She continually asks for updates on Bianca and has also offered to take her back and care for her (though we would NEVER have done that!)

So, though SM is a terrible problem, be heartened that people DO do the right thing out there....sometimes.:rolleyes:

Karlin
30th January 2008, 10:55 PM
Thanks for those personal stories about such great breeders! :)

Rosewoodsteel
11th February 2008, 07:06 PM
Regarding collars...
When Charlie was a pup, he would try to "sled dog" me when we did our walk. The Postman (a dog trainer) saw us walking down the street (with Charly pulling away) and he recommended that I try a different type of collar for walking. I'm not sure what the proper name for the collar is, but it is basically made up of linked "prongs". The prongs go inward, towards Charlies neck. Although it may appear brutal looking, it prevents Charlie from draging me and it keeps him from choking, as he did with his normal collar. I have used it since he was a pup and he runs to the door when I take it out (with his tail a wagging). Because the collar stopped Charlie from choking himself during his walks and he doesn't mind it at all, I still use it for our daily walks. Would you suggest that I replace this with a harness, or should I continue using it?

Thanks.

Karlin
11th February 2008, 08:05 PM
Oh PLEASE DO NOT USE A PRONG COLLAR! :eek::eek::eek:

Please read the breed incidence of syringomyelia -- www.smcavalier.com -- and you will understand why no one with a cavalier should be sticking anything deliberately into the necks of this breed! Several neurologists say the breed shouldn't ever be walked on a normal collars because of the risk of inducing or worsening syrinxes! A prong collar is another order of magnitude of potential damage!

And those collars DO hurt. Have someone put it on your arm and jerk it tight and you will see. These should never be needed with a gentle breed like a cavalier. :( And think about it -- would you want that jerked into your neck?

If you want a humane no-pull harness, please try the Sense-ible harness. It totally stops all pulling -- I use them with two of my dogs.

http://www.softouchconcepts.com/products/sense_ible_harness.html

Rosewoodsteel
11th February 2008, 11:55 PM
Thank you, Karlin.
Although I would never think about jerking the collar (and never have), I want what is best for Charlie. We love him dearly and would never do anything to intentionally harm him.
Actually, after reading about collars and SM, it made me much more concerned about putting Charlie on his run (dog trolley). We attach the lead to his regular collar when we do this. (We use the dog trolley when he needs to go out for a short period.)
He is usually happy just be outside for a few minutes, smelling things and going about his business, but
if he sees a squirrel he takes off at a quick pace and stops when the lead "runs out".
When this happens, he comes to a very quick stop. If he had a harness, based on what I have just learned, I think it would be much safer for him. Would a harness that attaches to his front (such as the Sense-ible harness) work in this situation? I'd like to get a harness that I could use for the dog trolley as well as his walks (if I can).

I am thankful that I found this wonderful group of people here.
Until I read this thread, I had no idea that collars were bad for Cavaliers.
I will be picking up a harness, this weekend. :)

-Sorry to take the subject away from Andy.
I hope everything is OK with the little guy.