View Full Version : Questions about SM

23rd July 2008, 02:01 AM
After reading Teri's thread about her dog, I have read and reread and watched and watched again the info & videos related to SM. I think it's a natural tendency to think "OMG, does MY dog have SM?" But I am sitting here watching Charlie's video and I could have put Casey on there and I would be watching her. Except for the bunny hopping during walks, she does a lot of the same things. Keep in mind my speakers are broken, so I had no sound & couldn't hear the explanations that went along with touching his feet and brushing him....so not sure what was going on there.

I guess the thing that struck me, is he didn't seem like he was in pain. His tail was wagging and he seemed happy. A lot of things Casey does, I thought she did b/c she was happy- rubbing her face all over the carpet after she poops, rubbing up and down the front side of the sofa at times, thumping her leg when I brush or pet her in the right place.

So, how do you know if they're in pain?

23rd July 2008, 12:17 PM
I will say it again -- probably at LEAST 50% of cavaliers will get SM over their lifetime. This is NOT 'someone else's problem' -- everyone of us likely has at least a 1 in 2 chance of our dog having syrinxes, and researchers believe about 95% of all cavaliers have the skull malformation which can alone cause pain and problems (so much so that in humans most people get CHiari -- the malformation -- and all its symptoms before they go on to develop SM). So every single owner should be thinking OMG about SM -- it is devastating the breed and there are prominent geneticists who do not think the breed has a very good chance of survival.

That said most dogs do not exhibit symptoms. Is this because they don't feel pain? Yes, many probably just adjust to it and maybe only get minor skin sensations or none at all just as some people with syrinxes never have symtpoms. But I am not so sure about many dogs thought to not have SM (and is why I think there's a reason every single vet I know says cavaliers are particularly 'wimpy' when it comes to injections... in their neck... gee I wonder why that might be?). There is very clear evidence that the dogs will accommodate the pain over time (even extreme pain) and most animals hide pain very effectively. My own vet says Leo has a very high pain threshold, from treating him for other conditions. When he occasionally gets pain on his side and his limbs from SM, I usually cannot tell even by handling him except by watching his body language. A neurologist -- or my vet -- would pick up his reactions as a pain reaction but quite honestly until recently, and despite having dealt with this for some time, I would not. I understand stress signals such as lip-licking much better now and can see that he is actually in pain when I touch him in certain places. I have realised I have likely been greatly underestimating the amount of daily pain he lives with (for most dogs, pain has to be pretty extreme before it causes them to stop playing, walking, or interacting with their owners -- just ask any vet). I will have Leo in for another MRI and neuro exam to assess his neurological response. Owners and even vets cannot really do this with any accuracy.

The difficulty with SM is that some behaviours are exaggerations of normal behaviours. If you have doubts about what is normal, then talk to a vet or a neurologist. or start to watch other dogs or talk to other dog owners (though taht said, not one of my friends with other breeds of dogs would notice what is abnormal about Leo's bahviour but I see it immediately -- the degree of scratching, the hair loss on his ears, the night scratching, the bunny hopping). An astute owner will start to see a clear difference between occasional face rubbing (common) and rubbing on the sofa (common) and face rubbing because of facial discomfort, scratching due to discomfort, and so on.

You really need the sound to understand Chester's video as the voice over talks about why these behaviours are specific to Chester.

23rd July 2008, 02:33 PM
I think different dogs tolerate pain levels in many different ways just as we do with an illness or a situation. SM is a progressive disease, it can progress slowly or fast. Perhaps then a dog with slow progressing SM or mildly affected with SM learns to tolerate its pain and continues on its way through life making adjustments and adaptations to its self giving us the impression that all is well when really its not? until it comes to the point when pain is acute and it finally yells out.

You will never know your own dogs status for true unless MRI scanned. It's not a guessing game in any way.

This again just shows how vital scanning is to breeding, in not breeding from affected stock and not to make a most foolish guess that a dog is clear by looking at it's outward appearance only.

Isn't it true that some dogs that appear well and very happy not showing any symptoms then go and give their breeders such a shock when they scan affected?

There are three owners in my home town with "Cavaliers without any problems" and they all wanted to breed their own bitches. They thankfully scanned their dogs after I informed them over many weeks about SM. All had SM affected bitches. These are just normal people that I met through walking and talking when out with my own dogs, they had heard about SM in Cavaliers but didn't know quite enough. Two will now not continue with their plans but sadly the third is still deep in thought as what to do.

From my own personal experience after living with MRI scanned affected (4) and MRI scanned clear (3,Whitney, Honey & Lucy) there is a clear difference to myself when living with these dogs.


Cathy T
23rd July 2008, 04:37 PM
most animals hide pain very effectively

I think this is hugely important for dog owners to understand. Shelby masks pain very well. To her detriment. I don't know she's in pain with her knee until she screeches....and when she screeches that means it's really bad. I think that's why it's so important to be in tune with your dog's behaviors and learn to read their body language. Sometimes they won't tell you when they're in pain until it's really bad.