View Full Version : im 99% sure

7th April 2009, 07:04 PM
My Ruby scratches ever such a lot, i always thought she did but since ive been on here & watched the videos/read other peoples posts with mounting panic ive made an appointment at the vets for tomorrow. ive tried to be an ostrich about it for a few weeks& as you know we've been dealing with her eyes for awhile. she definatly "bunny hops", if she gets excited to see another dog or someone she loves she goes into scratchy overload. i have been heartened to read here that the drugs do help& trying to be positive but in the last week when she has jumped off the chair (for example)she's sort of groaned as shes landed& over the weekend when we were on our walks,well she always lies down to give tummy anyway but when i stopped doing tummy& said come on then she's started rolling around/wiggling with her head tipped back so it looks like she's mainly rubbing her head. she hasnt done this before
the last straw was this mornings walk when she seemed not to be able to walk for scratching so i carried her home.
im sorry this is such a long post but im scared. i need to be strong for her to get the best treatment but instead im falling apart& cant stop crying. she's my world. please can someone fetch a grown up!!

7th April 2009, 07:55 PM
Don't get overly worried as you don't yet know what might be causing this. There's a whole list of things you will want to check if you haven't had your vet do so yet. On www.smcavalier.com I have a few things you can print out for your vet and also a section called 'Is this SM' that lists the various things you will want to have checked first. At the same time be sure your vet doesn't dismiss your concerns, as lack of awareness of the condition among vets is the main reason why many dogs take such a long time to get a correct diagnosis.

It is hard not knowing what is going on but important to take things one step at a time and learn as much as you can so that you have thought through what options might be best for you if you reach the point where you need to make decisions on treatments.

There are lots of people here experienced with different approaches to care for an SM dog so you will have plenty of advice and support if it turns out that you get an SM diagnosis. But wait to see how things go.

I'd be sure to print out Dr Rusbridge's treatment diagram so that your vet might consider prescribing something to see if her scratching could be eased.

7th April 2009, 09:50 PM
Karlin thank you. i needed a voice of reason!:) So my list of points to take to the vets is ready& ive printed off those pieces to take. having read them im more convinced than ever but who knows Ruby might be lucky:xfngr: of course my computer chose tonight to play up telling me no paper loaded/no ink/cant display podcast etc LOL! its a shame i dont drink- i could really use a glass of wine! cuppa tea will have to do! again thank you

7th April 2009, 11:24 PM
Hi Tupup: I was where you are now just a very short time ago. Just wanted to say the waiting is the worst part I think. Please let us all know what your vet says. As you know there are alot of us on here that have/are going through it no matter what your results are. I sure hope you are wrong. Hugs to you.

Margaret C
8th April 2009, 01:58 PM
Keeping my fingers crossed that there is another reason for the symptoms.

I hope the cup of tea helped.

Margaret C

8th April 2009, 04:26 PM
The vet said-he's not able to tell without an mri scan, which would be away & cost about £1000. she "could" have sm, its certainly possible. he wanted to give her a steroid injection but thought that might clash with the steroid drops she's already on 4times a day for her eyes. he didnt know about garbapentin so has put her on a diretic, frusdale twice a day, ive to ring in a week to say if its helped with her scratching.i asked if that would give her pain releif & he said it would. So what do you all think? i left the vets treatment diagram with him..Gx

8th April 2009, 04:57 PM
Personally, I would at least go to a neurologist. I said this to hubby last night as we were discussing our Abbey and Winston. A vet is like a human gp. Would you go to your gp if you thought you had neurological problems? I bet your answer is a big no. If money is a consideration for the mri etc. as least a neurologist has the knowledge of sm etc. Thats my 2 cents. If I could turn back the clock to 5 years ago when Abbey had her first seizure--I would go to a neurologist in a heartbeat. Even in regards to allergies which I'm dealing with I'd go to a dermatologist etc. Again MY belief is a vet just doesn't have the knowledge except for the simple stuff. Just my personal opinion.

Love my Cavaliers
8th April 2009, 05:55 PM
I agree with Linderbelle on this one. Neurologists can tell a lot just by their exam that a regular vet cannot. Although not even a neurologist can diagnose SM definitively without an MRI. And you need to rule out allergies and other things first before taking that big step. Also like Linderbelle, if I could turn back the clock several years to when Riley first began experiencing serious imbalance problems, I would have gone to a neurologist right away rather than wasting time and letting her syrinxes get larger and doing more damage. He took one look at her during his exam and said he was pretty sure she had SM, which was the first time I had ever heard of it. I hadn't found this site yet. Good luck to you. Let us know how the meds work out.

9th April 2009, 07:24 PM
Thank you for your opinions on this, its a time of feeling a bit lost so your pointers are much appreciated. Do any of you know where the nearest MRI/neurologist might be to me from north yorkshire? have your insurance companies covered the mri cost? is it really going to be £1000or is my vet trying to put me off do you think?

9th April 2009, 10:11 PM
Im so sorry you're going through this. Leo had an MRI last month because the vet and the neurologist thought he had SM. We were one of the lucky ones as it wasnt :jump:
My insurance did cover all the neurologists tests and the MRI, as long as the vet put in a covering letter they paid up no quibble.

Good luck, everyone here will give 100% support, I really feel for you as I shed so many tears fearing the worst for my little guy.


14th April 2009, 03:35 PM
just a few questions for those sadly in the know....do you still try to keep your little ones walking as normal or have you cut their walks to short walks only? ive shortened our walks recently but should i encourage her to keep her fitness levels up? should i stop each time she needs to have a scratch, im worried she'll hurt herself walking & scratching at the same time? her puppia harness seems to make her scratch more,are there any you can reccommend? and last question do you explain to other dog walkers about SM? when rubes goes to say hello to other dogs she scratches so much & i see the other person trying to move their dog away like they think she's got fleas& last week even tho' i said to another walker its SM i saw her checking for fleas as she stroked rubes tummy!
sorry if this isnt in the right section. any advice most welcome x

14th April 2009, 04:03 PM
Hi. We were just going to start giving Abbey short walks and then its been raining here. You have a good point on the scratching and walking. I think if its hard for them to walk then to stop for a little bit would be the thing to do. In regards to people saying and looking which I'm sure I will get in the future--Abbey's head is tilted, tongue hangs out alot etc. I don't really give a hoot to tell you the truth. I will tell them she has a neurological disease called syringomyelia and if they seem interested etc. to go from there. The older I get the less I care what people think--lol. Sad but true. Are you going to take your baby to a neurologist or ????? In regards to the harness my 3 cav's now have the upcountry ones. Saw a bunch of people give positive posts about them so ordered three of them--they work for us. I've never tried the puppia ones but I have read where some have had to change to another harness etc. Thinking of you.

14th April 2009, 04:04 PM
You really, really, REALLY need to find someone (wither a vet or neurologist, ideally both in tandem) who will work with you to try some pain relief medication -- excessive scratching is generally considered by neurologists to be a sign of extreme discomfort and often pain, with this condition.

I would not be taking her on walks to the point where she is scratching constantly.

She needs medication if the vet has examined all other possibilities. You can talk to a neurologist and get a clinical exam without needing to do an MRI -- and a neurologist will likely work with you to try some medications to relieve this fairly severe level of distress (if she is constantly scratching and scratching all the time on walks) regardless of whether you do an MRI. Please don't leave her in this situation out of concern about cost for an MRI. You can address her condition, whatever it may be, without having to get an MRI if the clinical signs are (as they seem to be) very obvious. Most neurologists are not going to insist you get an MRI before helping to make the dog more comfortable. There aren't many things that could cause scratching like this and most neuros would almost certainly try her on a treatment regime immediately.

Your vet is the person to do a referral for you to the nearest neurologist. If your vet is reluctant then I'd go to another vet.

All dogs are different and harnesses differ in whether they bother the dog. Some are actually better on collars but usually harnesses suit SM dogs better. But again if your dog is this touch sensitive she really needs medication as a matter of urgency; I doubt a different harness is going to make much difference.

14th April 2009, 04:08 PM
The older I get the less I care what people think

That's one of the great benefits of getting older! :)

14th April 2009, 04:19 PM
Karlin said it better than I did. Scratching does mean pain--look at my video--she's so distressed as I call it. I can't hardly watch it now--breaks my heart that she was in that much pain. Again, I'm with Karlin--I'd get the referral to go see a neurologist and get a consultation and go from there. Vets are clueless.

Please keep us posted. We all care.

14th April 2009, 04:54 PM
I agree, I'd see a neurologist asap! I could not sympathize more with your comment about the scratching. I don't mind so much for myself, but Ilsa wants so badly to play with the other dogs and their owners often pull them away from her. Even with the meds she scratches a bit when she gets excited, i.e. when she sees another dog she'll scratch for a few seconds.

I have even been lectured by rude strangers that my dog has fleas and I am an unfit owner. I find it especially offensive as I am obsessive about such things and inspect her every day. Although I understand, if another dog scratches I pull Ilsa away as well.

Luckily for us she always scratches on her right shoulder which is where her harness buckle is so I say that it irritates her or I say she has dry skin due to allergies (that one doesn't work well in winter but then I blame her harness buckle or sweater tag). Unfortunately most people never heard of SM and either don't believe you or don't stick around long enough to hear the whole story. I know it's a lie, but it gets people to relax and let the dogs play.

Hope that helps and your baby feels better soon!

Jen and Ilsa

14th April 2009, 04:59 PM
Just thought I'd add that if I know another dog owner (or person) well and see them often I explain the disease in detail and write down the name for them so they can look it up if they choose. I have often been known to tell closer people that I promise she's clean and they can check her themselves if it makes them feel better.

Jen and Ilsa

14th April 2009, 05:05 PM
Thank you all so much. i have to ring the vet tomorrow with an update on whether the diuretic tablets have helped& to discuss nearest mri scanner& how soon we can see a neurologist. its been a long week to wait for an update with him. the water tablets made no difference to her scratching, he told me they would help with her pain also,i had my doubts but did as advised by him, i stopped those tablets yesterday b.cos they were making no diff& also poor wee mite was wetting herself even shortly after a walk, she's such a clean girl i thought this was too distressing for her.truly not b.cos of wetting me or the furniture right now thats the least of our worries!
i rung the insurance place this a.m & they said they would indeed cover the cost of mri but otherwise it would be going on my credit card anyway.
it is at the back of my mind to change vets if he hasnt done some homework in the last week on this condition.
Ruby is without doubt in pain, today she's yelped twice when we were having a cuddle, its heartbreaking to hurt her even with a cuddle.I nearly got into an arguement with the vet last week about her needing pain relief, i was pushing for gaberpentin as suggested on here Karlin but he was having none of it & thats why i left the treatment sheet with the site written on it with him so as i say i hope he's done some homework!
Youre right its time i stopped giving a hoot about others reactions! Yesterday i read thro old posts on here back to page 5 anyway for tips but couldnt find any about length of walks, sometimes its more scratching when we're 1st out, always when she sees another dog, sometimes less if we're walking quickly im trying to find a pattern so i can help her but yesterday we stopped to scratch on my every third step(!!!) then we got to 23 steps. ive just got her on a very loose collar at the moment.
thank you for *listening* to all this,it helps so much to know others care & understand

14th April 2009, 05:16 PM
im also obsessed about flea treatments on her, she gets done every 4 weeks&checked all the time! isnt it sad that people jump to conclusions & dont listen when you try to explain, like you Jen its little 'un i feel sorry for cos she just wants to say hello to all the other dogs:(

14th April 2009, 05:18 PM
Please switch to a harness ASAP!!!!!! It will be so much better for her. It took Ilsa a bit to get used to them but now she is fine with it. If she doesn't like the puppia you can buy a nice soft leather one as I did. As to the length of walk - When Ilsa is tired she lets me know. I always carry her bag with me and carry her when she's done. If your dog is like that I'd let her walk all she wants - she may surprise you

Jen and Ilsa

14th April 2009, 05:35 PM
I'd try situations which don't set it off. Like Jen said excitably does it. I know announcing we were going for a ride in the car would for sure set it off. Thats an example. Like we said if she's scratching that much she is definitely very uncomfortable. If your vet isn't helping I'd find another vet. Hang in there hun. Its hard I know.

15th April 2009, 08:46 PM
i know what you mean-me putting on my jacket always gets her scratching.
our vet has been very good in the past, he even rang between apps when her eyes were at their worst but..i rung today as arranged & said the diuretics made no difference to her scratching& he said he wasnt surprised (why did we have them then?) i asked if he'd sorted a neurologist & he said what for?Are you planning to mri? so i said a consultation to get her pain meds at least, an he says oh id question if shes in any pain the scratching is only sensations:shock:
to cut this down, we then went in for her to be given a steroid injection as he had checked it would be ok along side her eye drops, this should make a difference in 24/48hrs & should also help her "discomfort" for a few weeks, then to ring again next week with an update. he said this was going to the bottom of the treatment chart id printed for him. he says this is what he does with other sm dogs but last year the day after P.D.Ex prog he told me he's never had a case in 20some years.:confused:
if this injection works for rubes it would indicate its sm but not definate.i went on about neurologist but im jumping the gun apparently
on a more positive note she only scratched twice on the walk home! after our lunch walk when she refused to go further than the end of the street so i have been taking her carry bag out with us.
i know i need to seriously consider changing vets, the big problem with that is its 5mins from our home & work(where i take her every day with me) i dont drive & i know i can run there with her in my arms in an emergency like i did when she was bleeding with colitis.
Should i see how the injection works before any decisions? thank you for taking time to read this very long post in advance Gx

15th April 2009, 10:14 PM
Ok sounds like you are saying that you really hate to change vets. If you want to get her mri'd or just go to a neurologist then I think you need to voice that to your vet. Just come out and say thats what you want and give me your referral. Steroids help on the allergy scene too so I wouldn't think that would be a firm deal on saying whether its sm or not. Steroids sure did mask it for Abbey but then as you know we're dealing with both deals. I know I changed vets for various reasons and the first time I went to my new one I was there in tears with all the paperwork and just saying I want to know and have her mri'd and this is where I want to go and he didn't question it at all. Got on the phone and got me in.

Maybe vets are different in different parts of the world but I can't imagine if you'd say that you wanted to go and the referral that your present vet wouldn't oblige. No sweat off his nose lets say. You're the one paying the bill or ins etc.

As you know the only way to find out for sure on sm is by mri.

15th April 2009, 10:37 PM
I agree with Linda, I did the same thing. My vet told me I was hysterical and obsessive even after I printed out information on SM for her. I couldn't find a neurologist here so I e-mailed Penny Knowler who sent me the name of a neurologist. I called his office and told them I didn't care about the referral - I had an unpleasant vet and a canine health emergency and to book the MRI.

Ironically after she was diagnosed I found a lovely vet / acupuncturist who is very knowledgeable about SM so she is now our regular vet. She is far from home but as we go every 10 days for acupuncture anyway she can take care of anything but emergencies. I never told off our last vet in case we need her ASAP!!

So I'd call the neurologist myself and explain what is happening and I'd bet they'd see you - or could at least recommend another vet who can make the referral. It's sad but true but after I explained the symptoms to the neurologist and told them I had a cavalier they made me an appointment right away.

Jen and Ilsa

15th April 2009, 10:48 PM
thanks linderbelle, im being a bit wussy about putting my foot down arnt i! i will change vets if i really need to its the emergency times im most worried by, having no transport but i'll start asking around for recommendations of any other vets as im thinking i could go somewhere just to get a 2nd opinion to begin with anyway.
ive just been reading your page, sitting here just about crying for you but also nodding away too.
rubys snoring away,im really glad she is oblivious to it all
and ilsamom thats a good plan dont fall out with the old vet just in case! i will start making phone calls asap,it cant do anything other than make me feel better. i do think our vets practise think i spoil her a bit, now that i really dont care about-i got her to spoil.

15th April 2009, 11:14 PM
I really don't think you'll have to put your foot down. Just tell what you want and I think your vet will support you. Yelling and screaming gets you no where--most people when yelled at it just makes them pull away etc. Me included. Worst thing you can do is yell at me. Makes me want to climb in a hole.

I remember Pat on here who lives only about a hour from me but we've never met said to me--you won't find a vet that knows anything about this. Maybe that little tip will help you like it did me. You just need a vet that will support you and listen. Thats my advice.

Also, my vet told me he's never had one but after he saw Abbey's symptoms he did say he'd seen it in other cavs. Another words he's misdiagnosed a dog possibly.