View Full Version : Please. . I need help and advice urgently!!

14th June 2009, 12:17 PM
Hi to all
I am a new user to this site and thank my lucky stars I have found it! I will give you a background to my beautiful pooch . . Molly . . and the reasons I believe she is likely to be suffering from SM. Also, we have got a nerve wracking appt at 9.00 at Chesterfields tommorrow a.m. where she will be having her MRI scan - something I am totally dreading!!!
Molly is 3years and 3months old. She was purchased for my daughter by her grandparents ( they have had a total of 8 cavvies!). She was bought from an animal lover down south when Molly was just 7 months old ( Im now wondering why she wanted to sell her). She arrived at our home and was instantly loved and adored. It was not too long after she had settled in that I began to notice her behaviour was particularly odd, especially in comparison to the cavaliers we had had in our family. She was much more aggressive, not the playful, happy pooch she ought to have been. Everyone kept telling me it was her character and that she had a lot of spirit, something I could never quite take on board! The months passed by with no change in her behaviour pattern then along came a whole host of new symptoms. It became apparant as soon as she had eaten ( and I mean within seconds) she would frantically throw herself over onto her back on the lounge carpet and writhe about frantically, all four limbs up in the air, rubbing and shaking her head from side to side. This lasts about 3 mins then she stands up and pushes her face into the floor moving her head from side to side. She then finishes off by going into the corner of the lounge and frantically scratching at the carpet, tries to rip it up. If she has eaten and the back door is open she immediately and frantically runs outside to a low wall we have built, and "scratches" her left side up and down it. This appears much worse that the "carpet" scenario as her head is lifted up into the air, she is grunting and her hind legs appear to be trailing behind. This also lasts for about 3 mins ( although this mornings episode was by far worse and I have managed to record it to show Chesterfields). These incidents ars not just isolated to meal times, she can have up to four or five a day. She now does not sleep flat, she sleeps with her head elevated on the edge of her basket. She has numerous episodes daily of nibbling and frantically licking her front paws. The "Scratching" has caused patches of fur to come out of her back and she has the indentation of the low wall along her fur. She has, but only on 4 occasions and just recently, been lay sleeping and let the loudest yelp out for what appears no apparant reason. When she manages to get into our bedroom or my daughters bedroom, she frantically runs and scratches herself up and down the length of the bed, her head pushed as far back as possible, then along comes the digging up of the carpets. She also does not appear to settle for any length of time, constantly moving around the house as if to find somewhere cool to relax. She recently appears to be losing a little of her hearing . . not hearing something unless it is loud enough, then she is startled and frantically barks. She constantly pants as if she is too hot even when the weather is cool.
I have been backwards and forwards to the vets regarding her scratching and they have believed she has a skin infection. Three batches of antibiotics and bipsoy and skin scrapings taken later, with everything coming back negative I was at a loss as to do next.
Molly had an appt last tuesday at the grooming parlour and that was the day the lord was looking down on us! We were sat in the waiting area when a lady approached to stroke Molly. She said how sweet she was then explained she was a cavvy breeder!!! I explained the problems we were having with her and had had more or less since she arrived and she looked worried. She offered Molly a chew and low and behold Molly did the famous trick of throwing herself onto the floor, all four limbs outstretched, frantically writhing, scratching in the air and moving her head from side to side. She suggested I immediately make an appointment with my vet and preceeded to explain Molly was showing the characteristics of SM. She explained vets are ignorant of this condition and told me I had to be firm in suggesting a referral for a scan. I did exactly that on the same day; the vet now believing it could well likely be SM.
My story brings us up to present day. It seems Molly's symptoms are getting worse. Our appt is scheduled for tommorrow a.m. It has to be a 4am start for us, on what is to be a very scary and worrying day.
If anyone can offer any help or advice regarding the appt or symptoms I have discussed I would appreciate any feedback. My other worry is I have been told the cost of tommorrow is between 1200 and 1800 and I am hoping and praying my pet insurance will cover this.
I must apologise for the length of this thread but I felt it neccessary to highlight all that is going on.

14th June 2009, 01:57 PM
Hi Mollysmum:

I am so sorry you have been having this distressing experience. How lucky you were to meet such a helpful breeder at the groomers and get advice to do what is certainly the right next step to be taking.

I am wondering if the writhing you are describing is more a writhing in pain? Have you seen the videos on my website, www.smcavalier.com? Those might give you some context. Certainly the kind of activity you describe sounds very much like it could be SM I am afraid. These are very extreme versions of face rubbing that are far more likely to have some painful cause. A lot of the time I try to explain to worried cavalier owners that simple facerubbing or scratching or digging is pretty common to all breeds of dogs; but will look playful or pleasurable when it is 'normal' activity. You have given a good description of just how different these activities are when they are probably connected to a state of distress.

I'd suggest feeding Molly from elevated dishes from now on -- put food and water up at about the height of a shoebox so she doesn't have to lower her head. It is the head lowering to eat that may be causing her bouts of severe pain in reaction, if this is SM.

Also I would have suggested getting some painkillers of some type from your vet but as you are taking her tomorrow for her scan I am sure Chestergates will talk you through medications and any next steps if you get an SM diagnosis.

Wait and see what you find out tomorrow and please come back and let us know. Many of us have SM dogs -- several of us have more than one -- so there will be many open ears and support here and suggestions for you, whatever the outcome.

Given the level of discomfort she seems to be showing, I'd certainly ask about putting her onto something besides just frusemide, which is generally what Chestergates will start with. Many of us use gabapentin for our dog's pain relief and it is very effective.

There's lots of information on the condition on www.smcavalier.com and also at this link: http://board.cavaliertalk.com/showthread.php?t=21896

On the second link, I'd recommend listening to the podcast and having a read of the SM FAQ section on Clare Rusbridge's website.

Best of luck tomorrow.

14th June 2009, 02:36 PM
Hi Karlin
Thanks for the prompt response. I have accessed the websites you advised and gained lots of further knowledge on this distressing condition. With regards to raising her feeding bowl, I did that the same day as meeting the breeder at the parlour, as this was her first recommendation. I purchased a raised feeding station, and up to date does not seemed to have made visually that much difference. Molly has had three further episodes in the last two hours all of which I was able to record th show Chesterfields. I will certainly let you know the outcome of the dreaded day tommorrow.
Regards Mollysmum

Cathy T
14th June 2009, 03:49 PM
I'm so sorry to hear about Molly and can imagine how distressed you are. But, how lucky for you to run into someone who could finally shed some light onto what is going on. Please let us know how you do at the vet's. Good luck and we'll be thinking of you.

14th June 2009, 04:17 PM
So sorry to hear what you and Molly have been going through - thank goodness you have now been pointed in the right direction and are finally able to get the help Molly urgently needs.

Wanted to wish you well for your appointment tomorrow - they are lovely people at Chestergates and will talk you through exactly what they find.

You have been very sensible videoing Molly's episodes, that will really help too.

Do you use a collar or a harness? Many affected dogs do better with a harness - but it sometimes takes a while to find the "right" one that doesn't irritate them. You want to avoid pressure on the neck.

The panting may be pain rather than due to Molly being hot - often affected dogs look for somewhere cool to lie and are quite restless - this is typical behaviour.

Take care and know that we are all with you tomorrow - please let us know how you get on.

14th June 2009, 04:36 PM
Im sorry to hear of you & Mollys distress, it must have been awful for you not knowing why she was doing these things. Whilst i understand your dread for tomorrow it will be better afterwards to have a diagnosis & possible treatment plan,sometimes the not knowing is worse.When i took my girl to be scanned we had a 4.30am start & i didnt sleep the night before or after & IMHO if you prepare yourself for the worst then anything else is a bonus!Plse let us know the outcome when you can. Take a notepad with you, it'll help later when you find you cant remember all that was said!If it helps i rang my insurers before hand to ask hypothetically if the scan etc would be covered & was told that in the case of investigating an illness it would be.
Take care & good luck for tomorrow :hug:

Friday's Mommy
14th June 2009, 05:41 PM
So sorry for what you have been going through.

My Friday was diagnosed with severe SM but one thing you might have them check for is PSOM too. Friday was diagnosed with both, SM and PSOM, from an MRI. They syrinxes were so large and all the way down her spine that they missed the PSOM in her ears at first. Then I mentioned it to them and the doc could see the plugs in her ears on the MRI. She had several surgeries to clear the plugs along with decompression surgery. Since you said Molly has had problems with hearing you might check for this too. The symptoms are similar to SM but it was hard on Friday to tell what symptoms were from the PSOM or SM.

She's managed fairly well on gabapentin and on bad days she gets to have a pain killer. She's now very lovable and sweet where before she didn't want to be held. Friday's surgeries were over 3 years ago.

14th June 2009, 07:35 PM
I just want to wish you the best of luck for tomorrow.
I'm so sorry you are going through this with your little girl, at least you are going in the right direction now to try to help her and find out exactly what is going on.
I will keep an eye on this thread for updates.
My very best wishes to you.

Brian M
14th June 2009, 07:51 PM
My kindest wishes to you and Friday and good luck for tomorrow.

14th June 2009, 08:15 PM
Good luck for tomorrow. Is there anyone who can go with you, and maybe also take notes about what is said? Sometimes 2 people are better than 1 when it comes to getting a diagnosis and planning for ongoing care, less tends to get forgotton in the stress of it all.

Keep us updated, and remember, you'll get lots of support and advice on this forum.

14th June 2009, 08:58 PM
Hi to all
Thankyou all soooooo much for your replies. At long last I dont feel alone in this nightmare. Thankyou Fridays mommy, I will certainly mention her hearing and have her ears checked for PSOM whilst we are at Chesterfields. In response to Nicky, we have never had Molly on a collar, she has always worn a harness; but I do appreciate your advice. I think you may be right regarding Molly's excessive panting being due to pain. Can anyone tell me how long Molly is likely to be groggy after her anaesthetic? Chesterfields have told me I will be able to collect her approx four hours after the scan. Wanted to know because we both have a long car journey back home. I will definately take a note pad with me to write information down, and my dad is coming with me to offer both Molly and I support. I will post soon to let you know the outcome at Chesterfields.

14th June 2009, 09:39 PM
The very very best of luck tomorrow...thinkin of u...:(

14th June 2009, 10:25 PM
She will probably be groggy for a few hours after the scan. Most likely will sleep well all the drive home. The scan itself isn't stressful for them; I have had all four of mine scanned; two of them scanned twice for research.

If Geoff Skerritt does your scan, give him my regards. :)

Be sure to tell them of the signs you have seen and concern about pain.

Friday's Mommy
15th June 2009, 12:09 AM
Every once in a while when Friday is having a bad day and in pain, she will pant. She usually does this after an episode of yelping. We will give her a pain killer and it stops about 30 minutes to an hour later. I always associated her panting with pain, at least for her.

Best wishes and hope you find get to the bottom of all her symptoms.

16th June 2009, 03:51 PM
Hi have you any news mollysmum? hope you are ok:xfngr:

16th June 2009, 07:37 PM
Hope you're back home safely and that things went as well as possible.

Nicki and Elvis
16th June 2009, 08:43 PM
I really hope that everything went well with the scan, thinking of you :xfngr:

17th June 2009, 01:10 PM
Hi Everyone and thanks for the posts. . . Well im still at a loss really. Chestergates was great and the staff brill, however we did not get a definate diagnosis!!! Molly's MRI definately did show a "bulge" as to quote the Neurologist. He was astounded at the videos I took of her and to quote" He had never seen anything quite like Molly's behaviour". Before the scan, and from all the detailed info I provided he said he could probably diagnose SM but wanted to confirm with the scan. This went ahead and he also discovered she had "plugs" in both her middle ears. He wanted to ensure the "plugs" were not infected, and he also wanted a Dermatologist opinion on the small areas on Molly's back where she has lost some fur ( despite already having treatment and scrapings taken at the vets which were negative). He prescribed Molly two lots of medication, but did say he did not think they would make a lot of difference. His rationale was to rule out any other causes before ( Quote) . . Molly was labelled with SM. I have to ring him direct in 8 days to let him know if there has been any improvement then it will be another trip back to Chestergates im afraid! Up to press there has been absolutely no change in Molly at all. Anyone got any thoughts??
P.S. He was so intrigued with the videos that he wants them putting on CD to use as a teaching resource

17th June 2009, 06:49 PM
The "plugs" in her middle ears means she had PSOM (Primary Secretory Otitis Media) as Friday's "mom" mentioned. Are they going to do a Myringotomy, or flushing of her ears? Did he say that the MRI did not show syrinxes?

Hope you get some answers and mostly that Molly gets some relief.

17th June 2009, 07:21 PM
hi ppotterfield
Nothing at all was mentioned regarding what further tests, investigations etc would be carried out.The focus seemed to be on Molly taking her medications ( Marbocyl P and Serc) . . . do they mean anything to you? As I wrote previously it was suggested on numerous occasions that the Neurologist would not expect any response to them. I really find it difficult to understand why bother if no improvement will be made! My concern is poor Molly and at this moment in time I am extremely confused. The other obstacle for us was the Neurologist was German and at times was very difficult to understand . . He continually expressed concern about the "Bulge" as well as her videoed behaviour . . .Im still at a loss and feel no further on in getting poor Molly a diagnosis but more importantly some relief . . any suggestions?

Margaret C
17th June 2009, 10:29 PM
I am sorry that you have been left with such uncertainty.

A quick google suggests that Marbocyl P may have been prescibed for the possible skin problem
"In Dogs, Marbocyl is indicated for the treatment of skin and soft tissue infections"
Serc appears to be prescribed for ear problems.

Presumably if taking this medication make no diifference to Molly's symptoms the neurologist will be able to rule out these as the cause of the problem.

I wonder if the bulge is something like a pre-syrinx?

18th June 2009, 09:01 AM
Hi Margaret C
You are absolutely right with regard to Molly's medication; and indeed the idea was to in fact rule out ear/skin problems being the cause of Moll's symptoms. As already disscussed the Neurologist did not want to diagnose SM without ruling out any other possibility or cause for her symptoms. She has had lots of treatment already from the vet for the loss of fur in small patches on her back, but nothing has resolved it and all skin scrapings came back negative. I am wondering if all Molly's writhing frantically around on the floor after eating is actually rubbing patches of fur away. Her inner ear "plugs" were only identified on the MRI scan as you know, and again the Neurologist wanted to ensure these plugs were not infected. He did suggest if Molly does not respond to the medication then we have to go back and he will investigate further. It is so sad to see poor Molly in the states she gets herself into, and over the last 2 weeks her episodes are becoming more frequent and lasting longer. I am at a loss what to do as I dont think I could have gone to Chesterfields any more equipped or with any more evidence of Molly's condition.
I am counting down the days now, when she has had ten days of her medication then I have to ring the Neurologist to update him on Molly's condition and to let him know if there has been any change. Up to date the tablets have made no difference at all to her.

Nicki and Elvis
24th June 2009, 09:46 PM
hey Mollysmum

How is Molly doing this week? Are the tablets making any difference?

Karen and Ruby
25th June 2009, 12:02 AM
Hi mollys mum,

I am new to this site today and have been reading through your story on hear. Were you given copies of Mollys scans to take back to your vets at all.
From experience I took my Ruby for a scan a few months ago now (it all sinks in eventually) but i arranged it myself and booked in with Clare Rusbridge at Wimbledon which was quite a trek but hey ho!
Ruby was scanned even though she only showed mild symptoms (a bit of excessive stratching and a lot of head rubbing) onlly 2 pain screaming fits which lasted a few seconds only. However clare was brilliant and sad she would scan her anyway as i was sure she had it.
Unfortunatly the scan showed she has a large syrinx at 6 mm wide at the top of her spine and occipital displasia and quite a large herniation of the brain.
Clare gave me the scans and all notes to take back to my vets and emailed me all the information regarding different treatment options to. I would think that if Molly had syrinx present he wouldnt be looking at other options for her but in my view and the symptoms you describe she is obviously in a lot of discomfort and needs some sort of pain releif.
If she doesnt have syrinx present and it is the PSOM causing the distress then she should be booked in ASAP to get them flushed.
I know a lady whose dog (also Molly) has PSOM and chairi malformation and she has been a wonderful suport to me and Ruby and if you msg me you email i will send hers to you as her Molly has been a sufferer for three years now and she is a world of information and support.
Hope you are ok

Karen and Ruby xxx

Friday's Mommy
25th June 2009, 01:47 PM
Molly's Mom,

I'm surprised they aren't getting Molly in right away to get her ears flushed too. They have to come out regardless if they are infected. In retrospect, I wish I would have had her ears flushed and get that resolved before we did the decompression surgery (which she did need too) just to see which symptoms were attributed to the PSOM. Friday had her ears flushed 3 times because it can come back before she had a more extensive surgery to remove bone tissue from her ears to take away the tissue that produces the mucus plugs. They said she might become deaf after the more extensive surgery but she hears just fine. Probably better than me!!!! The myringotomy is not a very invasive surgery compared to the decompression surgery. Hope you're getting some asnwers.

25th June 2009, 06:56 PM
Hi to all and thanks for the posts. Molly has had a week on her medication from Chesterfields and I have got to say the only noticeable difference with her appears to be her ear scratching seems a little less. All her other symptoms are exactly the same which is not only disappointing but a major concern now. I have to ring Chesterfields tommorrow to up date the Neurologist on Molly's condition. He will then decide where we go from here. She still has the bald skin patches on her back therefore despite the neuro wanting a Dermatologist appt I really cant imagine it being anything other than a connection with all her other symptoms. I dont want to sound rude but I really believe Molly would benefit from some form of analgesia and I shall be quite persistant in asking for some. Its not only heartbreaking to see her but I feel totally useless.
I have taken advice off a number of people on this site and switched Molly's food to Arden Grange sensitive as she has been also having problems with her bowel habits ie having 3 or 4 poops a day. I have got to say the toilet dept has picked up slightly which has been a pleasant surprise!
I will post once I know what the Neurologist decides what happens next. Thanks for everyones concern

25th June 2009, 09:19 PM
Good luck tomorrow, hope they can get her sorted out with appropriate medication. :thmbsup:Its horrible to feel that they need our help and we are finding it difficult to get it for them.