View Full Version : Please help !!!!

30th August 2008, 08:26 PM
Hi, Everyone,

My name is Patrick, my dogs is Gizmo! He is 3yrs 6mths and has just been diagnosed with SM. I new nothing of this terrible disease. He has been fine his whole life, no symptoms what so ever.

About 3 weeks ago he let out a terrible cry for no reason, I thought it was mabey the way he had been lying. A few days later he done the same and I began to worry. I took him to the vets who seemed perplexed as well and prescribed some steriods to see if that would help. It didnt he yelped in pain again and I went back to the vet. The vet told me it could be all sorts of conditions but rather than waste time he wanted Gizmo to have a MIR scan.

This was done on wed the 27/08 and his condition was confirmed. The neuroligist said he is by no means the worst case she has ever seen, she explained the condition but I was no use, completely heart broken, almost as though a death sentance had just been laid down.

The neuroligist advised starting him on medication and prescribed Gabapentin 100mg x2 p/day. This does seem to be helping. Gizmo is still running, playing,eating , drinking and happy. I am distraught however and have cried for 4 days solid, despite the neuroligist advising against surgery at this point I can not help but wonder if surgery now would be more benificial than wating to see if his condition worsens. (I would never forgive myself if I wait to long and hurt my baby)

I was wondering if some of you could share your views / experience with me? As I said I knew nothing of this disease and dont know what to expect. I know each dog is different but right now I feel as though my world has colapsed and think hearing anything could help me deal with this. One thing I would like to know is should I treat my dog any different IE stop him playing / getting over excited etc.


Patrick and Gizmo :paw:

30th August 2008, 09:40 PM
Patrick I'm so sorry to hear of Gizmo's condition you must be absolutely heart broken. I'm sorry I don't have any further information to give you but I will be thinking of you and Gizmo and will follow this thread. Gizmo is so lucky to have a thoughtful owner like you who will look after him. I'm sure people on here will have plenty of advice for you. :hug:

Claire L
30th August 2008, 09:41 PM
Hi Patrick :hug:and Gizmo :hug:I'm so sorry to read that your poor baby has been diagnosed with SM. It must have been so upsetting for you not knowing why Gizmo was suddenly crying out for no reason. Thank God you were able to have him MRI'd. Now you know what you are dealing with and can work towards keeping him pain free.

There at lots of people on here who will be able to help you through this :hug: so, hang on in there and they'll be along shortly.

Sending gentle hugs for Gizmo :hug::hug:

30th August 2008, 10:22 PM
Hi Patrick:

Many of us know how you feel and have been in the same position, with the same feelings, on a similar diagnosis. :flwr: So you can find lots of support and different experiences here.

The first thing to understand is that the condition is highly variable and may stay the same all his life or may progress a little or a lot. This condition also isn't understand very well, in dogs or in people. Different neurologists also approach it differently. Some encourage surgery even at early signs as they feel this gives the best outcome; others recommend waiting until there are definite signs that the dog is progressing to a more serious level of the condition, but obviously surgery is not the right solution for everyone and people decide to do it or not do it for many different reasons.

I have a lot of information about the condition at www.smcavalier.com including a lot about the treatment options.

My own advice from having two dogs now with SM is not to worry about what hasn't happened yet. There are so many directions the disease can take or not take and while initial shock and distress is totally normal, I think you will gradually find that you can accept (as with any serious diagnosis) you are where you are right now, you don't love your dog any less, and your best approach for both of you is to channel your energy into understanding this condition as best you can so that you know the options open to you going forward and can make informed decisions if and when you need to.

I'd look into having Gizmo on one of the medications that help moderate CSF pressure too. Have your neurologist look at frusemide, prilosec or cimetidine. Lowering pressure, some believe, will not only make a dog more comfortable but also may inhibit the development of the syrinxes.

I would allow your dog to play normally but you need to weigh up really active play or activities like agility and how much the dog enjoys them against the fact that every time the dog is active and gets excited, it speeds up the heart which in turn speeds up CSF flow which increases pressure in his head and spine. I let my SM dogs run and play all they like but I do not do organised activities like agility with them. But I know people with dogs with SM who do agility because the owners feel this is an important source of pleasure for the dog. Many of us find as well that activity doesn't bother even more affected dogs -- perhaps as with people, the good feelings generated by moderate activity actually help suppress discomfort.

Once you get a better sense of where you are with Gizmo and see how he is doing, if you know your dog's breeder you should let them know he has had this diagnosis. Responsible breeders need to know they have produced a dog with SM and they will not want to repeat that mating and should MRI the parents.

Gabapentin tends to be very good at relieving pain for the dogs so hopefully you will see continued improvement -- it takes about two weeks or so usually to get full benefit. The dose you are at would be a typical dose.

Also I'd recommend getting Gizmo on a harness not a collar for walks as this removes pressure from the neck area which is typically very sensitive and also the tugging at that area may perhaps cause syrinxes to worsen. This isn't known but some neurologists feel that it is best to be cautious.

30th August 2008, 10:35 PM
Hi Patrick and Gizmo.
So sad to hear of Gizmos Diagnosis, you must be heartbroken but from what I read it sounds to me is that Gizmo could not be with a better owner and that you will do all you can for him.
There is plenty of articles on the net about syringomyelia so maybe thats a starting point and of course there will be plenty of support from this group.

Cassie, holly and Gusscavtiny

Cathy T
30th August 2008, 10:40 PM
Your post just broke my heart, Patrick. You sounded so distressed...and understandably so. I'm so glad you've found this board and will be able to get some really solid information to help you decide what is best for Gizmo.

30th August 2008, 11:14 PM

Thank you so much for your kind words, it really helps me deal with this.:lotsaluv:

Karlin, thank you for your advice I will definetly ask the neuroligist about the medications you mentioned. The playing activites are just general playing, chasing his ball etc. He is generally very active (still running jumping etc) and although initially trying to stop him I relise that that is not fair on him and I cant wrap him in cotton wool all his life.

As for surgery / medication I have initially decided on medication and I will continue to closely watch him for signs of deteriation at that point I will cross the surgery bridge. End result for him is the best quality of life I can give him.

Again thanks to all, I will continue to update and will continue to look through other threads for more information


Patrick and Gizmo :paw:

31st August 2008, 08:24 PM
So sad about Gizmo. At the moment I have my dear Totti 7 with confirmed SM and my 13 week old puppy with symptoms and after a MRI it shows that there is a big probability for him developing the decease.
In other words, I know how you feel. In the beginning it´s devastating and the only thing to do is hope that the medication helps and take one day at a time. It is sad and life is never the same but we try to make the best of it and hope that it doesn't progress too fast. :xfngr:
Warm regards and all the best to you and Gizmo,

Cathy Moon
1st September 2008, 02:14 AM
Patrick, my heart goes out to you and I know what it is like to hear that diagnosis. I totally agree with all the advice you've been given, and would like to add just a few things for you to consider.

First, I would not play fetch or allow him to get very excited or overly active until your neurologist has prescribed either a proton pump inhibitor like Omeprazole or a diuretic like Lasix to reduce his CSF pressure. The extra CSF pressure could possibly cause the syrinx to enlarge. If the neurologist prescribes Cimetidine (Tagamet) you will have to thoroughly check all drug interactions with your vet, for example if Gizmo needs to be on an antibiotic at some point, the Tagamet may interact with it. Also, Omeprazole should be given 2 hours before or after any other medication - that's what my vet told me. Lasix will cause extra urination - so make sure you discuss the pros and cons of each drug thoroughly with the neurologist or vet.

Next, try different harnesses on him to find the one that works best for him. You will know what is best by how much he scratches at it. With my SM dogs I have found each one is/was most comfortable with a harness like this: http://www.upcountryinc.com/harnesses.cfm

Finally, little Gizmo will teach you a very important lesson if you let him. Gizmo lives in the moment - he doesn't worry about the future or feel guilty about the past. As long as he feels good right now - he is happy! Let yourself be happy with him! Enjoy every moment you have with him, he loves you and you love him - if he could talk he'd tell you that. Try to live in the moment with him and let him know what a great companion he is. :lotsaluv:

Love my Cavaliers
1st September 2008, 01:43 PM

I absolutely love how you phrased your last paragraph - about living in the moment with your dog and to be happy with him right now. I wonder sometimes whether I did the right thing by subjecting my Riley to SM decompression surgery, especially since she's had a somewhat rocky post-op recovery. She seems to be doing better now - we're close to the 12 week mark. But I will definitely take your message to heart. No matter how much longer she is with me, I will make sure she knows she is loved, cared for, and wanted. Thanks for the words of encouragement.

Bev, :paw: Oliver (7 yr - blen), :paw: Riley (6 yr - bl & tan), :paw: Madison (4 yr - ruby), and :paw: Oz (1 yr - tri)

17th November 2008, 05:40 AM

I am so sorry about Gizmo. I am waiting for our appointment with the neurologist next week. Annie, my 8 month old puppy has started showing symptoms and I suspect SM. The people on this board are caring, informed and empathetic. They will give you support, and always be there when it gets tough. I will keep you in my prayers and please keep us all posted.

17th November 2008, 03:26 PM

Just noticed you are from Glasgow. Where did you get your dog MRI'd? And how much did it cost if you don't mind me asking?



17th November 2008, 03:37 PM
Just something I do and worth asking your vet or neurologist. I would split the 2x 100mg he has into three doses. You'll need empty capsules and it is a real pain to do but worth it. My dog is on the same dose as yours and these drugs really do last only 8 hours. 2 doses of 100mg tired Dylan out too much. I give him these capsules at 8am, 4pm and midnight. You don't need scales for this, by eye is ok.

17th November 2008, 04:13 PM

My heart goes out to you and Gizmo. I am going through the same thing with my Annie, 7 months old. Her neuro appt. is next week. The people here are wonderful, and the information is very helpful. I have read everything I can get my hands on before that appointment so I can ask the right questions. But the bottom line is that you are not alone. I will be thinking of you.

26th November 2008, 01:17 PM
I am so sorry for you. My Molly was diagonosed last Thursday, I
feel desperate and am unable to concentrate on anything. I have
found joining this forum very helpful and comforting. I am thinking
of you and Gizmo and am so sorry.

26th November 2008, 02:48 PM
Hi Patrick,

I hope you and Gizmo are doing better and adjusting to the diagnosis. When I first put Annie's symptoms together and read about SM I was devestated. We have a neurologist appointment today for a consult. They can't do an MRI today because of the holiday but at least I can ask questions and perhaps get Annie started on medications. I have no doubt she has it, scratching episodes twice a day, and now I notice her head and neck remains "stiff" when she moves. She pulls away when I try to pet her like she has been hit or something (she has NEVER been hit) so it tells me there is discomfort. She scratches on lead but when on a harness does fine. My vet put her on allergy medications which helped with the scratching (had prednisone in it) but did not eliminate it.

I love Annie really hard one day at a time and my goal is for quality of life and comfort. She does fine right now, and with the medications hopefully for a long time. But from what everything I have read early onset (symptoms appeared at 5 months) symptoms can be severe and rapid progression can occur. I will let you know what the neurologist says.

Margaret C
26th November 2008, 03:49 PM
Just want to say that I am thinking of you all.
This is such a terrible condition. These lovely little dogs do not deserve what is happening to them.

Margaret C

Juniors Daddy
26th November 2008, 11:53 PM
hello to you patrick and gizmo from myself and junior .. junior sais he is thinking of gizmo and im thinking of u both u must be upset ..however keep strong for urself and ur doggie ..dont treat him any different even if the pain is releaved im sure you been the loving owner to your dog you sound will keep your dog strong also .
be a soldier with your lil cadette :)