View Full Version : Question about SM--Abbey just diagnosed-long post

8th February 2009, 03:50 PM
As many of you know my dear Abbey was diagnosed--I knew it already though-on thursday. She started her meds of gabapentin 50 mg/ml and omeprazole friday night since she stayed the night there and we had consult and brought her back home on friday. Friday night was bad--she was very uncomfortable the whole night with scratching, licking etc. Last night she did better. I noticed last night before we went to bed that the drugs must have been starting to get into her bloodstream as she looked drugged. Also, George had called yesterday to Auburn, AL where we took her and said no change and they said to give it until monday as it took awhile to see any change. She had her first dose of medicine for today at 5 a.m. and I took her back to bed with us and she did go back to sleep--didn't seem like it took that long for the medicine to start working. So far this morning she's not scratching and rubbing head and licking paws like she does. Before the diagnosis it was sooo bad--not continuous but ALOT. I know they sometimes change the meds etc. or dosage etc. Should Abbey be appearing to be drugged? Is it a sign that her dosage needs to be lowered. I think I'd take the drug look anyday over the scratching, licking etc. although I sure don't want a drugged dog.

She is on:

gabapentin 50 mg/ml 1 1/2 ml 3 every 8 hours (3 x day)
omeprazone 5 mg--once daily

The gabapentin they gave us is liquid form which I have done a search on the net and its impossible to find--only have found one place. I think they gave us liquid maybe to find out the correct dosage.

We are also almost 100% sure we are doing the surgery. I know of the pain etc. but both my husband and I feel we don't have much choice. Its progressive--so far her motor skills aren't effected. Only a matter of time. I know there are no guarantees but we have to try. We did take her to Auburn U where Dr. Axlund did the study a couple years ago so we feel we're getting very very good care and with people very knowledgeable about this. With any surgery there is pain. I've watched videos and have had one phone conversation with a person on here that did have the surgery for their dog.

I'm probably rambling right now but its been a rough week.

8th February 2009, 05:21 PM
I'm so glad the medication is working for Abbey! I've been doing my independent test with Ilsa and I think it takes about 45 minutes to hit. I give it to her when I wake up and usually she's ok in time for our walk.

I'm proud of you for making a decision about the surgery! I'm 3 months after diagnosis and still can't decide, though I'm leaning towards it. Please take care. I haven't had surgery so I can't help you in that department but if you just need to talk PM or e-mail me and I'd be happy to call you anytime. I've also done extensive research on surgeons and think I've made a good choice.

I live in Paris but have free international so I think it's best if I call you.

Take care

Jen and Ilsa

8th February 2009, 06:48 PM

It is good that Abbey is having treatment at last. It sounds like she is more comfortable anyway.

I think surgery is only done as a last resort isn't it? Like when there isn't anything else to be done.

Maybe it is different in the US.

I can understand that you will want to do everything you can to keep her with you, but the greatest love of all is when you can let go to save her suffering.

What guarantees are there that surgery will cure the condition? There is a lot to be considered and I would take it a step at a time with whoever is responsible for Abbey's welfare regards medication, surgery etc.

Take care

8th February 2009, 06:54 PM
Dylan seemed really drugged up at first but he got used to it. We even upped the dose after 3 weeks. I'd say Abbey is on a really low dose. Dylan isn't very symptomatic but he is on 200mg Gabapentin which I split into 3 doses a day.

8th February 2009, 07:31 PM
ok let me try to explain to all how my husband and I feel and why we are doing the surgery.

There is NO cure for this as we all know. Surgery is NOT a cure. What it does hopefully is stop the progression. Thats it. There are also no guarantees that it will even do that. They have had 80% success rate and they are doing it differently in Auburn, AL. This is where Dr. Axlund was and did his study a few years ago so I believe she is in very good hands. I AM not doing this for my sake. I am doing this to give her a chance. I can't sit and mask her symptoms and then one day she can't go up the stairs and one day she falls over or has seizures all the time etc. Hopefully, this works and keeps that from happening. If it doesn't then all I can say is that we gave it our da-- est. I remember years ago when I was having trouble in my marriage and I almost walked away and at that time was about 25 years into it and a friend said to me--don't your kids deserve to hear that you gave it your da mn est and get into counseling and then be able to say yep I tried. Well, this is kind of like that for us---we did what we could. If after surgery we are in the same boat and she is like she is now. Then we will opt to probably take her out of this misery and for my mother to be at the gates to hold her. I know she was diagnosed just a few days ago but in my heart I've known that she has had it. If you were at my house and witnessed it after researching it then you wouldn't have had any doubt either.

8th February 2009, 08:21 PM
Just a couple of comments.

There is a lot going on behind the scenes here. The program at Auburn appears to be excellent, led by a very capable neurologist. They are using some new techniques - I haven't seen this info posted on any of the SM sites so will follow up to get info to the right people. I am very interested because I live in the same area as Linda and I want to stay informed of options in our geographical location. Linda has identified people who have had surgery done for their dogs and are now four years post surgery so she has those resources.

Remember that Abbey has been diagnosed late rather than early, and her symptoms have progressed over the years. She is already five years old. She has been misdiagnosed for years now. That means that Linda doesn't have the luxury of watchful waiting as do those who got early diagnosis for their Cavaliers. Time is truly of the essence here.

Linda and her husband are smart and loving, and I have confidence that they will make the right decisions for their particular situation. Remember that each situation is unique and we all do the very best that we can.

Atlanta, GA

8th February 2009, 08:30 PM

I felt just as you did when my Ruby had surgery last July. In my opinion, it gave her the best chance at a less painful and happy life as she was not even 3 years old at the time. We are now 7 months post op, and although our results haven't been exactly what we hoped for, I am trying to be optimistic that Ruby will continue to heal. As I'm sure you've been told, it's a very long recovery (Ruby is still recovering), but the good news is that her decompression looks excellent, so hopefully this horrible condition will not progress. That is the main reason I did the surgery, because it is progressive and I did not want Ruby to get any worse. You are the only one who can decide what is best for you...I'd be happy to answer any questions you may have about the surgery and recovery. Ruby had the titanium mesh decompression...I'm not sure if that is the same technique as you are considering.

All the best,
Michelle & Ruby

Daisy's Mom
9th February 2009, 03:19 PM

I think that is wonderful that Abbey has such loving owners who would go through the anxiety, expense, and effort to have surgery for her. I don't question your decision in the slightest. If it's her best chance, then I would do it in a heartbeat! I volunteer at the animal shelter where 10 year old, 13 year old, etc. purebred dogs are just dropped off at the shelter or dumped at the side of the road because they are just too much trouble or expense. I just want to take all these trusting, confused lttle dogs home with me. They have no idea why they are in the scary place they ended up. So Abbey is very blessed in this way, even in the face of this horrible problem.

I will pray that the surgery is a success. Thank you for posting the information about her doctor, too. It is good to know the name of a good surgeon within driving distance of Tennessee, in case Daisy ever needs it. She has done a couple little things lately that have scared me, SM-wise. I'm trying not to panic, but it's always in the back of my mind.

The breeders who refuse to do testing for fear that their lines will be shown as tainted with SM should be reading about your experiences so they recognize the pain that is being spread through their denial of the problem.

9th February 2009, 03:43 PM

If I was in your position I too would want to do everything that was possible to help my dog.

If surgery was the answer to give quality of life then, of course, I would go down that route.

I hope that Abbey is doing well on her meds and that you are all o.k.


9th February 2009, 03:44 PM
What new technique is Dr. Axlund using?

9th February 2009, 04:37 PM
Hopefully, Linda won't mind if I respond! The neuro at Auburn is Dr. Andy Shores, not Dr. Todd Axlund. Axlund did a study at Auburn (with low cost MRIs) a couple of years back, but he has moved to Ohio. I do not know what techniques Dr. Axlund is using. Dr. Shores is using skin from the dog for the "patch" rather than using titanium mesh as Dr. Dewey and others are/were using. (I don't know yet where the skin comes from!) I saw a post just the other day on another forum discussing another neurologist who is doing this and now I can't find it. Karlin and/or Rod probably know about this and can elaborate. The idea is that it may minimize scar tissue, etc, better than the titanium mesh.

Since I'm two hours away from Auburn, I'll want to learn as much as possible about the program there as this evolves - but mostly after the fact as I don't want to be intrusive. I was impressed that Dr. Shores gave Linda a copy of the Rusbridge/Dewey paper that was in the just released Kirk's Current Veterinary Therapy XIV textbook. (I've been meaning to bring up that paper for discussion here and just haven't had time to do that post.) That textbook is the "Bible" for US veterinarians, and with the release of this volume a lot more US vets will become familiar with SM. I recently bought the volume (and the newly revised Manual of Canine and Feline Cardiology which has lots of new info from the ten year old edition that had been my most treasured reference text) and I gave a copy of the SM paper to my own GP vet. Reading that paper answered a lot of questions that have been asked in various forums lately and really helped me to understand - and there was an unprecedented reference listed at the end of the paper that I want to mention here! (At least in all my years of reading medical texts I've never seen such a reference.)

Rod - on your listing of neurologists, you have the ones with SM experience highlighted and Auburn isn't one of those so recognized, so we'll want to give you feedback for your site.

We've identified at least four US people whose dogs are now three and four years post-op, so they should be able to give good counsel.


9th February 2009, 04:40 PM

I know you will do the best for Abbey. You all are in my thoughts and I wish you all nothing but success. Hugs,

9th February 2009, 05:51 PM
I may have given Pat some wrong information and have e-mailed her in regards to the paper that we were given. It might not be the one that she was talking about. Just wanted to clarify that. Also, she is correct. The doctor is Dr. Shores and NOT Dr. Axlund. Dr. Axlund was at Auburn a few years ago and did do a study. He must be a great guy as the receptionist said she still missed him. In regards to the titanium mesh Dr. Shores calls it a fat graft I believe. We recorded the consultation with him and I have listened to it now 3 times and just did again. We're going to try to get this tape duplicated and get to Pat as I feel it will help others.

Pat is right about Abbey. Her history is as follows.

A seizure as a puppy--two weeks after we got her in fact.
The scratching, licking paws, etc. has been going on maybe at least 2 years. She has been diagnosed as "allergies". I have tried every food on the market--tried making food--I have tried every shampoo on the market--I have witheld cookies because they might have something that wasn't in the dog food to rule out allergies to the food. The list goes on and on. I never had heard of sm until after we got Bentley and we got Bentley in November and one day went on the net and ran into this site and a few weeks after getting on the site saw something about sm and out of curiosity started to read and couldn't stop and I knew from day 1 on here after reading the sm that she had it. Then I was advised to get insurance which we did. I waited till the 2 week period was over and a little longer and got it in. We feel we're on a time bomb here so thank you Pat for clarifying that. I probably leave out bits and pieces. I soooooooo appreciate the people that are leaving messages both onsite and in pm and e-mails that are supporting us. It helps me as there is a WHOLE lot more negative than positive. Everybody has their own opinion and I would never ever be so selfish to put Abbey through something just to keep her on this earth for me. That would be downright cruel. All we are doing is trying to give her a chance that she sooooooooooooooo deserves. As I type that I'm bawling like a baby. I pray to dear god that this works but if it doesn't at least we tried and I don't regret one day with Abbey because almost 5 years ago I called the person who we got her from after her first seizure and she would have taken her back but in my heart I know they would have killed her. She came from Slovakia (yep Europe and then to the states) and we were stupid I know--website of cavpups.com another no no but at the time we thought we were doing right. Again, this dog has given us so much joy in her 5 years and if we lose her then thats God's intention.

9th February 2009, 06:15 PM
That is a different paper; I'll scan the paper that I referenced and email that to you, Linda, and I'll post about it later in a new thread for everyone else (I want to type out some verbatim text from the paper, and that will take some time).

In the meantime, I found a good link (which is probably in Karlin's SM info) but I'll put it here for easy reference:


This gives a short and fairly easy to understand view of the surgery and background info on SM. There is some text here that addresses questions that have been debated over and over in various forums lately. All in all, a nice summary.


Cathy Moon
10th February 2009, 03:12 AM
Hi, just want to add that Dr. Axlund, who is here in Ohio, used the technique of packing the dog's own fatty tissue to cover and protect the area where bone is removed. That's the technique he used for Charlie's decompression surgery in 2007.

10th February 2009, 07:41 PM
Using the dog's own tissue isn't a new technique but the 'old' or main decompression technique for doing the surgery, as far as I know -- though some use an artificial tissue called Biocyst for the patch (this covers an area where the bone and then the fibrous tissue supporting the brain is cut thorugh to allow the brain to expand normally). The cranioplasty approach, which uses titanium mesh, is a slightly different form of the surgery and only a handful of people currently do it. Initial results have been quite good but as I have noted a few times, there are only dogs that have had this done going back about 2 years beyond the surgery in the study group so medium to long term results are totally unknown. The mesh is supposed to work better for scar tissue control and is widely used in human surgeries for this purpose. But longer terms results in dogs aren't really known, for this particular surgery.

Also while initially it seemed many or even all dogs having the cranioplasty form of surgery no longer needed medications and that scar tissue didn't form, it is clearer now that it sometimes does form, that many dogs (as with the regular surgery) will remain on medications over a lifetime, and that there can be complications.

The one clear benefit seems to be that syrinxes can actually reduce in size. But it actually isn't all that clear to me from what I have read and heard from many with cranioplasty dogs, whether this makes a difference for the dogs (maybe not if damage has already been done). With the regular surgery, syrinxes tend not to improve but they also tend not to enlarge any further. I know a lot of regular surgery dogs doing perfectly well, and some cranioplasty dogs that need medications to control pain long after the surgery. So I am not all that sure there is much real difference in results.

When some of the longer term data from the cranioplasty approach gets written up it will be really helpful to start to compare. But even then there's really no formal studies of how cavaliers with the regular surgery do over time. Clare Rusbridge has written up an informal comparison between a group of surgery dogs and a group of medication-only dogs. That paper is summarised on my www.smcavalier.com site.

Some dogs do really well after either of the surgeries; some gradually decline a bit, some do poorly in the immediate aftermath... there are all sorts of responses. For some dogs, particularly younger dogs with serious syrinxes and lots of symptoms, I think surgery is probably the only option for anyone who wants their dog to have much chance of a medium to long term life. But there are many reasons to do or not to do the surgery -- no one should feel they should or that they shouldn't.

The dogs I know of that have had it recover amazingly fast in most cases but I also know of dogs that took many months.

10th February 2009, 08:00 PM
Rod - on your listing of neurologists, you have the ones with SM experience highlighted and Auburn isn't one of those so recognized, so we'll want to give you feedback for your site.

Duly noted. Thank you.

11th February 2009, 01:56 PM
Thanks Rod. I used your site when looking for a neurologist but didn't see Auburn listed but investigated the best I could and chose Auburn. Dr. Shores told us he personally has done 14 of these in his 1 1/2 years at Auburn (I went jeez that isn't very many) and all have been successful. I do not know how many the other doctors there have done. My husband also spoke with the head neurologist but never asked that question. We feel we are on a time bomb here and its ripping my heart out. I don't know who is in worse shape--me or Abbey. Abbey has been misdiagnosed for probably about 2 years. She was put on steroids for allergies. When I started to read all this stuff on here about sm I decided for me to completely take her off of everything and wham were her symptoms intensified. They were bad enough as it was before taking off the med but almost unbearable for me after. Course I'm feeling alot of things these days--my dog has suffered for a long time because vets don't know anything about this which I can't understand because when you google cavalier and health there are two things that automatically show up. Now I had never googled that but I would think a vet would but apparently they don't.

Abbey has most of the symptoms:

air scratching
licking paws constantly
not screaming I would call it but distress
head tilt
seizures but very few--had first one 2 weeks after we got her as a puppy--have maybe seen about 7 of them and can't even remember the last one I saw.

I think you get the idea. We really don't feel we have much choice here but to do surgery. Like Pat said we don't have the option of watching to see where it goes. Where it goes next is probably falling over etc.

Sometimes I think I love this dog too much if thats possible. My daughter-in-law told me yesterday that everybody she tells this story too is amazed that we even did the mri. Everybody thinks --its a "dog".

I know I'm rambling and probably on a pity party right now--had a bad night--woke up at 4:30 a.m. to Abbey licking and scratching and distressed and couldn't give her the gabapentin for another 90 mins and then it takes time to take effect. Now she is asleep . Seems like she's either drugged or doing the symptoms but we've been told by the neuro that it sometimes takes 2 weeks for the meds to really stabilize etc.

11th February 2009, 05:53 PM
If she is distressed I'd just give her the gabapentin. To be honest the dogs on this drug take a very wide range of doses and 90 minutes or so difference also isn;t going to make much difference. I sometimes gave Leo half again as much a dose for example if the weather is changeable as his symptoms are worse. If the existing regime isn't preventing distress and pain then talk to the neurologist about adding something or increasing the dose. Many people find gabapentin alone is not adequate. Many of us give a CSF inhibitor as well -- different ones work for different dogs. Also if you are waiting for surgery and have a distressed dog I'd ask about putting her back on steroids as they will likely give far more relief. Hopefully you can find a good approach to keep her comfortable. It is a nightmarish condition to deal with as it is so unpredictable.

14 surgeries is a fair number. No one has done huge numbers.

Personally, for what it is worth, I would have no hesitation in opting for surgery in your case. I continually re-evaluate Leo and Lily -- I may reach the point where I decide on decompression for Leo.

11th February 2009, 06:15 PM
We've got a call in to the neurologist so will see what they say. Hubby is doing it as he understands it alot more than I do and he stays more calm than I do. To be quite blunt I'm literally a basket case. She's my baby and I'm pretty worried to put it mildly.

She is also on omeprzole 5 mg once daily.

Personally, It means ALOT for you to say you wouldn't hesitate for surgery in her case. That is one thing that is so hard--in fact its made me almost want to stay away from the boards and net. Husband yells at me to stay off because it upsets me. People tell me I'm wrong and it makes me cry because I'd do anything for her literally.

Today I am so angry at my ex-vet (she became ex about 10 days ago) that I could drive to her office and scream at her.

You go through so many emotions with something like this and what you need is plain support and POSITIVE. The negative I can do without. Facts yes but it rips me up for somebody to tell me that I'm not thinking this through.

I really do need to stay off the boards and net as I'm going crazy. I just want help for her before its too late and I'm scared that even March 2nd is pushing it.

Thanks Karlin. I needed your words ALOT.

11th February 2009, 07:35 PM
Omeprazole is one of the CSF inhibitors. It may be though that another would work better, or adding something else would work better.

I don't think you should be angry at vets for missing this diagnosis. This is like blaming a GP for missing SM in a human. They do not have the training in neurological conditions and most are clearly unaware of the prevalance of this health problem in cavaliers. However, I am sick and tired of some breeders arguing endlessly that vets 'overdiagnose' this as a 'bucket diagnosis' for almost anything involving scratching or pain -- in fact, as any discussion with people who actually have cavaliers with SM can confirm (how many people owning SM cavaliers do these breeders, with their vested interest in selling puppies, actually talk to? I know quite a few breeders however who REFUSE to reply to their pet owners though when they contact them with news that one of the cavaliers of their breeding has SM :mad:. Indeed I have a whole list of those), the exact opposite is true and the vast majority of cavaliers are not diagnosed for many, many months to years as vets simply do not spot the problem. Symptoms are very similar to chronic problems like allergies and for most vets who are unaware of SM in the breed, this is what they will diagnose. The drugs given for allergies will also help the pain and other symptoms. So the problem can easily remain hidden. And remember cavaliers are only one breed of many hundreds of breeds and mixes and dogs only one type of animal the average vet sees.

I don't think it is anyone's business who is unfamiliar with this condition to tell owners what decision they should make regarding care. First off, it isn't their dog. Second, many people view their pets as less a part of the family, and will pts rather than pursue more costly or involved treatments. That is their choice, but it isn't everyone's choice, especially when more advanced care is available. Third, the statistics for relief through surgery are actually quite decent, and many dogs are back up and around within a couple of days -- if anything the hard part is restraining their activities (which is really important). While the surgery is in a riskier area than say a patella surgery, the morbidity rate has been extremely low. Finally everyone has their own reasons for making care choices that can relate to the dog or their own philosophies or perspective. Some do surgery when I personally wouldn't. Some don;t do it when I personally would. But everyone has the right to make that decision for their own personal situation.

I just encourage people to read widely, be as informed as possible, but realise there is no right or even 'better' answer. There's only the decision you make after deciding what is right in your own case. I'd just not ask for others' opinions if they are upsetting. :thmbsup:

12th February 2009, 01:47 AM
Linda said: Dr. Shores told us he personally has done 14 of these in his 1 1/2 years at Auburn (I went jeez that isn't very many) and all have been successful. I do not know how many the other doctors there have done. My husband also spoke with the head neurologist but never asked that question.

Just a clarification - Dr. Shores is the only board certified neurologist at Auburn, so he would be the only vet doing the surgery there as there are no other neurologists there. So, 14 would be the total number of decompression surgeries done at Auburn over the past 1 1/2 years (I guess since Dr. Axlund left?). I agree with Karlin that 14 is a good number. If you have a chance, ask how many of those 14 were Cavaliers, and, if there were other breeds, how many of what breed.

In the US, to search for board certified specialists in a particular location, go to the ACVIM site and use their “locate a specialist” form. For example, you will find that at Auburn, there are five internists, one neurologist, two oncologists and NO cardiologist. (Which means I would stay in Georgia for a cardiologist!) For other specialties, go to the certifying organization (for surgeons, for ophthalmologists, etc.) to locate specialists.

I also agree with Karlin about not blaming GP vets. Most GP vets in the US do not KNOW about the existence of SM. They generally do minimum CE and do not stay updated. That’s why it’s important to take copies of actual veterinary papers to your vets and ask them to read and file the information. My vet often asks to borrow my textbooks as her clinic has less current material than I have at home. It’s generally only the specialists (internists, cardiologists, neurologists, ophthalmologists, surgeons, etc.) who keep up with the latest and greatest. And, in the US, the general pet owning public is equally in the dark about SM as you can see from Linda’s experience.

I also think that Karlin had some wise words about individuals making decisions about what to do in their own specific situations.


12th February 2009, 02:27 AM
One thing I'd add is that especially in the US or Canada (or most other countries!), I wouldn't expect vets to know about SM. Cavaliers are not common and are very rare in some states -- and a vet might never have come across SM in a lifetime of practice. My Irish vets were unfamiliar with it til I brought in Leo, showed them my MRIs, gave them Clare Rusbridge's information, etc. And here, cavaliers are one of the most *common* breeds! However, once familiar with it they have swiftly been able to identify several cases, all confirmed on MRI. My favourite vet at the practice says now, "Once you see it, it is pretty easy to spot likely symptoms." The scratching when present is fairly distinctive once you have unaffected dogs and affected dogs together, for example, but it can be very hard to recognise if you haven't seen them side by side.

Clare Rusbridge surveyed client owners and said the average period before diagnosis is 18 months to two years or so, so your experience isn't unusual.

I always suggest people print out the downloadable main documents at www.smcavalier.com and bring in to their vets or any local vets. Raising awareness may benefit other cavaliers or breeds that have SM. :thmbsup:

12th February 2009, 12:47 PM
Yes, I had come to terms with that one. I have changed vets but that was not the reason. I have gone to another one that has 3 cavs himself but he knew nothing of sm and he's the one who watched my video etc. and got me referral for mri etc. I took Bentley and Winston into him yesterday and we also discussed Abbey of course. I did say to him that I hope some good comes of this and that you spread the word about this and he said to me he was meeting with a vet friend last night and he was going to talk to him about it. So once a dog is seen over here and diagnosed I'm sure it spreads. You are definitely right about not that many of cavs over here. I'm not in that big of a city and very unusual to see one. The only place I've seen them is in a pet shop and only on like 2 or 3 occasions. Over here alot of the reason I think they aren't so popular is that they are VERY expensive. I don't know what the price of them over in Europe is --maybe cheaper. That makes me feel better about 18 months before they are diagnosed. Abbey I'm sure would have been much sooner but the allergy meds she was on masked the symptoms but eventually as I put it "the meds weren't cutting it anymore" and the symptoms started getting worse. Remember I found this board after we got Bentley and one day started reading about sm just out of curiosity and the more I read on here the more I couldn't stop. I'm sure eventually Abbey's symptoms would have gotten worse and worse but she would have been still on the allergy meds. It may have gone as far as her falling over etc. I am very very grateful for finding this board and I say Bentley was my gift from God and he saved my Abbey.

12th February 2009, 12:54 PM
I might add that we got Bentley at one year of age so I think I found this board approximately a couple weeks of getting him and maybe after that I was on the boards approximately two weeks and read about sm. Another helpful thing is I have gotten two cavs since November from 2 different breeders and neither one of them mentioned sm. I have of course discussed it since then with them but it sure isn't something that was openly discussed by them and they are what is called "good" breeders.

12th February 2009, 01:02 PM
Another note as this might help somebody in the future that suspects that their dog has sm. I knew my dog had it after readings on here. I have had phone conversations and e-mails with quite a few people that have/are going through the same thing that my family is going through. This is one woman's experience and I'm doing a copy and paste:

I did research on the internet on Pip's on air scratching and took the paperwork to the vet. Here was her response (I'm not kidding): "Don't believe everything you read on the internet." She then gave me some expensive ear drops. She was clueless and didn't have the curiosity (or perhaps integrity would be the right
word) to look into Pippin's symptoms more carefully. She did not follow up with me in any way. Now, in hindsight, it is infuriating.

I knew Abbey had sm--there was no doubt in my mind--she had soooooooo many of the symptoms. If you go to your vet and they say something like that either knock some sense into them or go to another vet.

12th February 2009, 03:09 PM
Linda is in Macon, I'm in Atlanta - two hours apart. There are TONS of Cavaliers in Atlanta - I see them everywhere just driving around - on walks with their owners, at the vet's - everywhere. There are all kinds of Cavalier social groups here. I personally know probably over 100 people with Cavaliers in my area. I think someone posted in another group a link to a newspaper story that they are in the top ten most popular breeds in Atlanta. The word is spreading here among pet owners and vets about SM. When I got my first Cavalier in the late 80's, I had never seen one in person before (my first came to me via Delta Dash from the northeast) and it was very, very rare to see one in public. And of course you never saw them in pet stores, and Al Gore hadn't yet invented the internet (sorry.....a little US humor).

One of the worst things you can say to a vet (or a doctor for that matter) is "I read about ____________ on the internet." The reason is that there is a huge amount of misinformation, pure hogwash and snake oil salesmen on the internet. Most professionals are immediately turned off if you start a sentence that way. That is why I will find a veterinary or medical published paper or similar, read it and try to understand the basics, and then print it and take it to my vet or doctor so I can show them my source and then discuss it. The attitude of the vet/physician is far more receptive with that approach. It takes a little digging around, but you can generally find credible, valid sources. (This is why Karlin's and Rod's sites are so helpful - they cite their sources and you can usually find copies of the referenced materials or at least you can cite them.)

And regarding "good" breeders in our area - well, there are quite a few very successful breeders in this area (well known, very active in clubs, gorgeous dogs, win a lot, etc.) but that doesn't always mean they are health focused breeders. It takes a little time to talk with them and figure out if they are someone that you want to work with. And, if you have never heard of SM or MVD and so you don't ask, and if they never mention it, well then you have no way to judge because you are in the dark! Most newcomers to the breed just aren't that familiar with what they need to know.