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View Full Version : Took Star to vets today with SM concerns



sugarkane74
10th November 2008, 06:01 PM
Went prepared with all the print outs but didn't need them as she (my vet) knew all about it and seemed quite clued up. Anyway, told her about my concerns, scratching on and off the lead mainly, shaking her head and she checked her over, her ears are clean, no mites/fleas, no sign of skin irritation. She twisted her neck to each side and upwards and was dreading her yelping (she hasn't done this anyway) but she didn't. The vet took some bloods and will call me tomorrow with the results but doesn't anticipate them showing anything up.

She then said if the bloods are clear she will refer us to a neurologist towe discuss it further and get Star MRI'd. She says as we're insured it's best to get it checked out now as if she has got it at least we would know what we were dealing with. She also said as she does scratch at her neck on and off the lead, although it may not be what she considers excessive it's best to check it as it is a prevelant condition in this breed.

:xfngr: it goes well should we go to a neurologist and I feel a bit better about it all now.

Karlin
10th November 2008, 06:09 PM
I'm glad you got a thorough check and can think about further steps as necessary. Did you get any videos of her scratching to show her? Did she try walking her to see if she could prompt the scratching? And as well are you sure you'd consider the scratching excessive? Occasional brief scratching is pretty normal on or off the lead for puppies that are just getting used to a lead or harness, if that remains the only thing that causes any suspicion. With SM scratching you tend to find obvious air scratching and/or long scratching sessions where you cannot distract the dog. For example when Lily starts a scratching session she goes on and on and if I call her she might look at me but doesn't stop the scratching.

sugarkane74
10th November 2008, 06:24 PM
No she didn't walk her about and I have no video footage. When she scratches on walks she stops and scrathes for a few seconds.. longest being about 15 secs. She will stop if I call her to carry on walking but on the odd occassion she won't. It's so hard to know what to do for the best but my instinct is to go ahead with the referral.

Out of interest are Cavs moochers? Cos sometimes my Star tends to mooch about but not sure if that would be considered restlessness or not. She does also sometimes have a worried look about her.. don't know if that makes sense or not?!

Karlin
10th November 2008, 06:35 PM
I'm not sure if that would be unusual scratching -- you'd probably want to get a clinical exam from a neurologist first (which they'd do anyway before recommending an MRI). However 15 seconds is fairly long if it is many times a day -- most dogs will scratch for about 5 seconds then stop. How long have you been walking Star? How long has she been used to being walked on her collar or harness? If it is still something relatively new then this could easily be causing any scratching. It is just that it is pretty unusual for puppies to show any symptoms. Some can, so if it worries you then get her checked, but I'd probably be waiting for more signs of new things or progression before I'd be thinking about going to a neurologist. Signs in puppies under a year are pretty unusual.

What do you mean by mooching about?

sugarkane74
10th November 2008, 06:56 PM
the 15 secs was just the once, she usually scratches for about 5 on a walk. She's got a collar on and I've been walking her since she was allowed out after her vacs. It's not every day though coz sometimes we drive to the fields and she'll just run around loose. I think she should be used to her collar and lead by now though.

When I say mooching I mean she'll be sat by me on the sofa for a while and then she'll just get up, wander about for a bit then settle down in her bed.

*Pauline*
10th November 2008, 07:17 PM
I would switch to a step in harness asap.:thmbsup:

sugarkane74
10th November 2008, 07:26 PM
I've ordered one of the harnesses that you attach the lead at the front (can't remember what they're called but saw them in another thread). She's a real puller so I dont know if that's the main reason for the scratching.

*Pauline*
11th November 2008, 12:05 AM
Oh those are good. Didn't work for us though. It stopped some pulling but rubbed a sore patch on him. I'm working hard to teach him to stop pulling so he doesn't air scratch. As your girl is still young, I'd work on that now. Had I known quite how important this would be to us now, I would have tried harder from the early days.

Jan Bell
11th November 2008, 08:31 AM
Hello,

I am sorry to hear that you have concerns over Star, but lets hope that it turns out not to be SM :xfngr:.

It is good though that you are fully informed and know all about it, and you seem to have a good vet too. It is far better to be able to get this checked out rather than sit and worry about it.

Keep up updated.

Best wishes,

Suzi
11th November 2008, 09:38 PM
Rosie scratches her neck/base of ears if I walk her on her collar..but not on a harness at all. I was a little worried about the scratching but as my husband pointed out, if she had pain in her neck, she wouldn't be rough and tumbling the way she does with our lurcher! I hope your fears are all groundless.:xfngr:

Karlin
11th November 2008, 10:26 PM
If Star is only normally scratching for just a few moments I'd really not worry and wouldn't bother going to a neurologist. Puppies can take a long time to get used to a collar and if she is pulling this is going to be causng a lot of chafing and disconfort which in turn will be a likely cause of scratching anyway. Puppies often scratch on collars while young.

Have another look at the SM videos I have on www.smcavalier.com. For example the first video of Leo -- that is typical SM scratching; it goes on and on for 30 seconds or so and would have gone longer but he gets interrupted by Jaspar's yelp (he was startled). Also you can see both Chester and Leo doing air scratching -- they hobble along and try to scratch, over and over. A 5 second scratch is really probably not indicating anything other than normal puppy scratching and irritation at wearing a collar.


I was a little worried about the scratching but as my husband pointed out, if she had pain in her neck, she wouldn't be rough and tumbling the way she does with our lurcher!

This actually isn't true at all of dogs with SM, I am afraid. My Leo plays vigorously, including tug of war where his head gets pulled all over the place, but he has a large syrinx now and is on two treatments for SM. My other SM dog with a narrow syrinx but far worse herniation also plays very actively. She does not scratch at all on the lead but scratches a lot off the lead and bites at her hind legs.

If you have a dog consistently scratching on a collar, I would seriously consider having her checked more thoroughly. Geoff Skerritt firmly believes that some dogs can have the development of their syrinxes slowed or even stopped if they are put on one f the CSF inhibitors early enough, so I think it is very much worth knowing if this is something more involved. I would also get the dog off a collar for walks and use a harness. If the dog is scratching on a collar it means there is some level of discomfort due to something.

SM is not simply a neck pain -- it is neuropathic pain which is very strange and unpredictable. The chafing and pulling of a collar definitely can bother dogs whereas many owners will report that they will not be bothered much or at all by activity. As a matter of fact, Leo is at his best when playing off lead. Some researchers think perhaps the adrenaline and feel-good chemicals released from exercise actually help block the pain and discomfort.

sugarkane74
12th November 2008, 12:59 PM
I was away at my parents yesterday so only just got on. My vet phoned yesterday and said Star's bloods came back all normal so she was going to phone around a few places, she mentioned the Animal Heritage Trust (?) and would describe Star's symptoms and see what they think.

I'm still waiting for the harness to turn up so will see what happens when I walk her on that. We went to see a few people yesterday whilst visting my parents and she was scratching a lot at her neck which worried me as it seemed to be bought on by excitement.. I could be wrong but I still think it's worth getting it looked into. She hasn't been doing it today that I've seen but yesterday she was doing a lot of scratching.. still only for about 5-10 secs at a time but I just don't want to take any chances. She also has a nibble at her back legs at times too and shakes herself.

Are they any collars anyone can recommend that may be more comfy? I don't want to take it off completly as it's got her ID tag on and should anything happen where she managed to get out or anything I wouldn't want her to have no collar on at all.

diddy
12th November 2008, 09:19 PM
Glad her bloods came back normal. re identity tag - have you considered getting her microchipped? Its not 100% foolproof, but all vets,dog wardens and rescue centres would check for a microchip on any dog brought in. If you rely on just an identity tag any Tom Dick & Harry could easily remove it. Next time you have a Vet appt ask about microchipping. It doesnt cause any pain, is no bigger than a grain of rice, and is put onto a computerised data base. If she does get lost there is a much better chance of her being returned to you.

sugarkane74
13th November 2008, 04:04 PM
She's already got a microchip.. I'm just not sure I trust them as the only form of ID.. if she went missing on our street for instance (she managed this once when my husband accidentally didn't shut the back gate) She had a collar & tag on with my number and luckily someone phoned me within 2 mins to say she was safe. But not sure most people would check if they've been chipped or not.

Hubby got a good telling off for that though :mad:

WoodHaven
13th November 2008, 04:13 PM
Glad her bloods came back normal. re identity tag - have you considered getting her microchipped? Its not 100% foolproof, but all vets,dog wardens and rescue centres would check for a microchip on any dog brought in. If you rely on just an identity tag any Tom Dick & Harry could easily remove it. Next time you have a Vet appt ask about microchipping. It doesnt cause any pain, is no bigger than a grain of rice, and is put onto a computerised data base. If she does get lost there is a much better chance of her being returned to you.

I've worked microchipping clinics and I wouldn't say it doesn't hurt (so if anyone else brings in their dog and it cries or bleeds, don't be too worried). A 12 gauge needle is quite large. They can also migrate (but less likely now) or malfunction, so you should have your vet check the chip at least once a year.