View Full Version : Constantly worrying about SM

4th November 2008, 05:36 PM
I don't know if anyone else is the same but it's bordering on an obsession. I'm always looking for signs and go into a panic if Star scratches at her neck/ears which she sometimes does although it's not excessive.

I watch for other signs but because they are normal doggy type behaviour it's so difficult to judge. I drive my husband nuts sometimes. Please tell me I'm not the only one. :(

4th November 2008, 06:18 PM
You're not the only one.

I'm seriously considering taking Rosie to the vets as she is constantly scratching, although it has eased off the last couple of weeks. She also bites at her feet where her dew claws are and the fur has now gone brown when they should be white. She also licks her lips alot and shakes her head. Again, the feet biting and lip licking have eased off as well. She also rubs her face on the carpet runner in the hallway after she has eaten or had a drink.

But the thing that got me worried yesterday was when I got home from work, I let her out to potty and as she was walking back to me she started air scratching, something she has never done before! It only lasted a couple of seconds but my heart started beating very fast! (She wasn't wearing a collar or harness at the time.)

She's showing no signs of pain and is her usual happy self. But if the air scratching happens again, we will be off to the vets straight away.

I'm hoping that I am over-reacting, but sometimes it is hard not to worry when you see your companion doing things you know could be the signs of a serious illness.

:xfngr: that Star is ok.

4th November 2008, 06:53 PM
Unfortunately both this and MVD are considerable risks when you decide to own a cavalier. But consider that your dog is far more likely to have health problems from MVD, including early-onset MVD (eg onset while the dog is still relatively young, meaning under 10 for this disease) than SM. Most of our cavaliers will ultimately die from MVD, and the high rate in the breed has wiped about a fourth to a third off the average lifespan. So MVD is sadly the key problem we still all need to watch for.

SM like MVD seems to be fairly common in the breed especially in comparison to other breeds, and also in varying degrees of seriousness. For those dogs that do end up with syrinxes, which appears to mean at least a third, about a third again seem to develop symptoms that are noticeable and of those with symptoms fortunately a smaller number experience serious pain.

None of that makes things any easier but it may ease concerns a bit -- while reieterating how absolutely important it is to make careful choices when buying puppies and to learn what to watch for with this condition.

There is a whole list of things to watch for, and the other things to check for FIRST that are more likely to be causing symptoms, here (http://sm.cavaliertalk.com/diagnosing/diagnosing/isthissm.html).

A dog chewing at its paws and scratching sounds likely to have allergies. It is something to definitely discuss with your vet. Face rubbing after meals or water is totally normal -- both my clear dogs do this all the time. Please read through the link above and also the symptoms list on the site because many possible symptoms are just normal dog behaviour and you need to really have a sense of which things are normal. Face rubbing from SM looks like a response to pain, not a moment of relaxing pleasure which is more likely and is totally NORMAL in all dogs. Personally I do not consider face rubbing to be a major sign myself and my two dogs with SM almost never face rub. Lucy who is clear does it all the time!

Air scratching is more serious as it is connected with almost no other activity. However a dog might kind of air scratch if it begins to scratch then gets distracted. That is very different from dogs that start to bunny hop as they try to air scratch. If a dog is SM air scratching, it will keep appearing and most likely, start to happen more often. If someone is seeing regular air scratching they really must see a vet to discuss the possibility of SM.

Please remember too that plenty of cavaliers will live a full lifespan with SM and mild to moderate symptoms that can be alleviated through a few medications. A good number of cavaliers with SM will die from MVD, not SM -- again, every cavalier on this board is far more likely to die from heart problems, not SM.

Please never ignore symptoms of either MVD or SM if you truly think there's a concern as there's no reason a dog should suffer and remain in discomfort or pain. But also don't waste time worrying about what hasn't happened.

Both my dogs with SM lead perfectly happy lives right now and I see no point in becoming overly upset at what they have. Instead I care for them and focus my energies on trying to ensure that as few cavaliers as possible in the future will suffer from this. That's a better place to direct energies. Donate to the research, write to the clubs expressing concern about these issues, join the UK CKCS club so you have a vote at the next AGMs, require that the breeder you have chosen be an MRI scanning, cardiologist testing breeder. Contact Carol Fowler on this board by PM to ask ways that you can help the breed. There are many ways to help.

4th November 2008, 09:06 PM
Thanks Karlin. I could have written sugarkane's post myself, but you have put my mind at ease. I will continue to be vigilant in being aware of possible symptoms, but will not obsess and worry over it. Sasha seems fine right now, thank g-d....

4th November 2008, 09:27 PM
I also want to thank Karlin.. I am a bit of a worrier but I have been driving myself crazy constantly worrying about it and even looking for signs or dreading it if she was to yelp or something. I've told my husband that if I still think there's something not quite right in the next month or so I'll take her to the vet and make some enquiries.

I'm also gonna be vigilant but try not to be so obsessive about it. After all if I'm in a constant state of panic I must be giving off bad vibes to my little girl! Unfortunatly we didn't do an awful lot of research when we decided to get a cav. I'd always loved them since I was a kid and when my hubby said about getting another dog I knew it was a cav I wanted. I knew about MVD but was totally unaware of SM until we saw the programme on the telly. However, I wouldn't change my mind about her now because I love her to pieces.

I also think a lot of my worry stems from what has happened to our cats. We had 4 but last year we lost one to suspected antifreeze poisoning then in April this year we lost another of our cats this time to suspected lily poisoning (I never have lillies in the house). It broke my heart to lose them especially as they were both so young, one not even a year old so I guess I'm just also really paranoid.

Rosiesmum, I hope your little one is okay !

5th November 2008, 02:22 AM
sugarkane, so sorry to hear about your cats. :( No wonder you are so especially worried.

Let's try to focus on loving our sweet girls and enjoying each day we have with them. Worrying about the future doesn't make sense since it's not in our direct control. And you're right, you never know if she will pick up on your anxiety.... they are very perceptive.

12th November 2008, 11:31 PM
I just returned from my vet, and Annie (my 7 month old) does not appear to have allergies, or any visable ear infections. The vet suggested first trying a half a benadryl twice a day to see if that helps with the scratching. She has been scratching her neck/shoulder area and biting her rear quarter often, particularly at night. I of course read everything on SM and panicked she has it. The next course is to try steroids to see if that helps. If neither shows an improvement then he suggests an MRI with a neurologist in Dallas.

Everything I read makes is sound so scary and I am trying to be patient and follow the vets directions.

13th November 2008, 08:26 AM
yes I know the feeling. every cav I see seems to be scratching !

I've already had three to my vet with scratching & now ezme has started ( This week she has been yelping & scratching her side at the same time , & running across the room like something has bitten her)
If I take her aswell he'll think i'm insane

13th November 2008, 01:57 PM
I first do not know for sure Annie has SM, but I would bet money. After all that I have read it sounds like early onset (she is 7 months old) means more intense and severe symptoms. I have read about the surgery but it sounds like it is not a permanent solution but rather a temporary one. Based on what I have read I would not really want to put her through all of that. But what I really want to know is what kind of results have people had with the surgery? Statistics are one thing but I value personal experience. I am sure it has been written about here - do I just do a search for surgery?