View Full Version : An SM Question

3rd April 2009, 02:45 PM
Please pardon my ignorance....

Is there a point in the life of a cavalier that it would be most likely that your cavalier is in the clear for SM? I know I have read that symptoms can show up as early as 6 months but if there a point/age that a cavalier owner can begin to believe they truly have a dog that is unaffected?

I suspect that the answer is no, but I thought I would ask.

Margaret C
3rd April 2009, 07:32 PM
My Monty first started screaming at eleven years of age.

Margaret C

3rd April 2009, 09:17 PM
No, as you have guessed, unfortunately there's no clear age. However, neurologists feel the worst cases are generally the ones where symptoms show before age 4. But that is only a general guideline based on clinical practice. I know quite a few dogs whose more severe symptoms emerged at over 7.

I have spoken to a couple of neurologists who believe early MRIs are only a very basic indication of how a dog may develop, and for breeding, MRIs should be done at age 2.5 (the MVD protocol minimum age for breeding) and if possible repeated as the dog gets a bit older. Some dogs that show clear early indeed do continue to be clear, but I know of some who have screened clear and then gone on to get severe syrinxes, sometimes very rapidly, within a year or so.

An outwardly asymptomatic dog also is not a clear dog. Dr Marino showed one slide in Rugby of a severely affected dog with a spine full of syrinxes that showed few noticeable symptoms. He said if such a dog had presented with that level of syrinx development that had come on suddenly due to a head impact, he would have expected the dog to be overwhelmed with extreme pain. But because of the gradual onset in many dogs, they simply learn to tolerate ever increasing levels of pain.

A point of comparison might be humans with CM/SM -- noticeable symptoms often don't tend to show til 30s or 40s or so as it takes a while for the disease to develop and over time people learn to live with the pain.

That's probably why some humans and animals will MRi with severe syrinxes but may have experienced only low levels of pain.

It's a very strange disease.

4th April 2009, 02:37 PM
Hi Karlin. I too am still quite ignorant as regards this terrible condition. My Jasper (age 1) is concentrating scratching on one ear only - 3 or 4 times a day for at least 30secs each time, but NOT when walking. I'm taking him to be checked out for glue ear in the hope that this is the caue, & not something worse. My question is, what are the benefits for scanning if you don't intend to breed? Does early treatment improve chances / retard the onset of SM? Plus, how costly is a scan? Thanks.

Kate H
4th April 2009, 07:30 PM
My Oliver was diagnosed with SM when he was scanned in June 2007.He has a small syrinx at the top of his spine. We don't know how long he has had it; I took him to be scanned not because he has any symptoms, but because he has a family history of SM (father has produced at least one symptomatic daughter from a different mother, grandfather and great-grandfather had SM in old age) and I wanted to know if Olier had it. His prognosis (from Geoff Skerritt) is that he may never have symptoms or, like Margaret's Monty (Oliver's g-grandfather), may develop them in old age. After talking to Nick Jeffries (Cambridge Univ. Vet School) at the CKCS Club Champ show in Malvern in February, I'm getting Oliver scanned again in May (under the Midland Club scheme). Nick said that they have very little research evidence for older asymptomatic dogs with SM (for example, how much does their syrinx have to grow before they start showing symptoms - or do they adjust to a gradually increasing level of pain?), so monitoring Oliver regularly could be useful. I wouldn't do this if it meant Oliver having an anaesthetic every time, but Chestergates sedates, and at £100 I can just about afford it!

I shall get my new dog, Aled, scanned at the same time (he'll be just about two) - he has no symptoms (a very occasional squeak, but ever since I had him from the rescue 4 months ago he's had a recurring ear infection, so I think he has a sore ear - I have to clean them regularly and he has small ears and I have big hands!) - I'm just plain nosey! And having come from a puppy farm, he could have anything and everything - a visit to the cardiologist at Malvern revealed a Grade 2 heart murmur.

Having said all this, both of them spent a happy afternoon tearing round the local country park, both fit and healthy dogs, so I'm lucky.

Kate, Oliver and Aled

5th April 2009, 01:53 PM
£100 for a scan is more reasonable than I expected. I have no idea what Jasper's family history is, and at present he shows no sign of any pain (though he does often look like he's worried about something, or is that just cavs in general?? ;)). I would imagine he is a bit young at only 1yr old, so I would probably wait a while til he's closer to 2yrs of age if there are no symptoms - especially if the scratching stops. Thanks.

5th April 2009, 03:39 PM
have you had a look at the video showing Abbies symptoms I think its really helpful to those of us who have never seen a case of sm. di

5th April 2009, 08:26 PM
Watching the videos is what's made me worried! :confused: Having said that - no scratching today:xfngr: