View Full Version : looking for some help with SM

15th January 2010, 11:28 PM
i was wondering if someone with some experiance in this problem could help me out. although not diagnosed by our vet, i am positive that my 4 year old cavalier max has SM. he has always shown some mild symptoms, but in the pat 2 weeks they seem to have gone from mild to moderate or severe. now, when he rubs his neck and rolls on his back he growls and even yelps occasionally.he also seems to go into scratching and rolling fits more frequently. it is obvious that he is in some sort of discomfort. i did make an appointment to discuss some treatments with our vet, but in the meantime i have a few questions.

first, it is normal to go from mild to moderate or severe so quickly... literally in a 2-3 week span. is there something that could have triggered it? we just had a baby in november and i was wondering if stress or a change in his routine could have triggered this. is it common for them to go through periods where it is more severe and then go back to being more comfortable, or will he be this affected all the time now?

also, he seems to be having trouble with his rear. sometimes when he walks he pulls his tail to the one side and walks in a kind of "C" position. he has even been chewing the hair around the base of his tail and his rear to the point of pulling it out in spots. is this a common symptom of SM? i'm hoping that this behavior is an unrelated problem such as an allergy or an anal gland issue that we can treat.

as i said, i do have an appointment to see the vet, but i was hoping to get some advice from others who are dealing with the same situation. my poor max just isnt himself and it is breaking my heart. i'm hoping to be able to relieve his symptoms so he can live a happy quality life for many more years. any advice would be appreciated.

16th January 2010, 12:17 AM
Jill- Could be he's picked up fleas (they tend to bite them at the base of the tail), he could need his anal glands expressed, or if he does have SM it could be that the super cold weather we've been having triggered more pain.

It has been said that the weather can lead to worsened symptoms.

16th January 2010, 02:13 AM
Sorry to hear you are concerned that you are seeing some signs in Max.

To answer your questions: first, yes he does need to get to a vet to start with but please be sure your vet is familiar with SM. I'd recommend having him/her read:


and I have some downloads as well here:
And you can get a lot of info at:
www.cavalierhealth.org and www.cavaliercampaign.com

Many vets really know very little about this specialist condition so you most likely will need to give your vet some reference material.

Then on specific signs: it isn't unusual for signs to get worse, then better, worse then better, All sorts of reasons for this -- dogs tend to slowly adjust to new levels of pain for one, and also even pressure changes due to weather change can makes the problem worse (many of us with SM dogs notice they are more uncomfortable at higher altitudes and in rainy weather).

It would be very unlikely that a dog would worsen suddenly due to stress but I am pretty sure this could contribute to an already existing problem.

I think if he is walking in a C shape then it is very urgent to have him seen and likely you will want a referral to a neurologist. This is called scoliosis and a dog does this when a syrinx (fluid-filled cyst in the spine) is pressing on nerves and causing more severe pain. The dog bends into a deformed shape to try and relieve pressure. Often over time they adjust and the scoliosis may disappear but it does generally indicate a more severe level of SM, if this is the cause. It is possible this is a separate issue due to something else like flea dermatitis but if he regularly walks in a C, scratches, face-rubs, yelps, then you do urgently want to try and decide on an approach to relieve his pain -- these are all generally signs of considerable pain. Please do talk to your vet first, but I'd really be asking for a referral to a neurologist at the visit due to the combination of things you describe.

I have some videos here if you want a point of comparison:


Please let us know what you hear back.

16th January 2010, 02:54 AM
thanks for responding. i will take all of the info you suggested with me when i see my vet. i am hopeful that she is somewhat familiar with SM because i know she has owned cavaliers in the past. i will keep you updated.

Love my Cavaliers
16th January 2010, 05:23 AM
I'm so sorry you are suspecting SM. Please push your vet for a referral to a neurologist. If you do eventually get a diagnosis of SM, there are a lot of us on here with SM dogs and we can give you tips and hints about what has worked for our dogs. Riley is my SM dog. We're here for you.