View Full Version : Guidance On my Cavi - Concerned he has SM

3rd September 2010, 03:56 AM

Hello All - I am new here. My name is Tiffany and I am from the US. I have a tri-colored male who was born on 12/2/09 and his name is Jake.

My problem is I see so much info online about SM and I donít want to over-concern myself.

I know a lot of the symptoms are associated with regular puppy/dog behaviors but I would like some advice from people who know.

I purchased Jake from a private breeder but with no papers as that tripled the cost to get him but he did come with a 5-yr health gauruntee - not sure if it covers this.

He has always been a low key loveable sleepy cavalier

He has always scratched at his ears - I am working on changing his food to a more protein rich food and less grains in the event of a food allergy

He has never been a fan of walking on a leash but recently he is constantly scratching at it - to the point where I have to stop and wait for him to stop scratching at his collar to keep walking. And he always shakes his body - constantly.

He has always rolled around the floor since I got him and scratching at his face with his paws but never digging his head into the floor - he looks like he enjoys it.

Recently I have seen him wobble when he walks and kick with his back leg - but only twice

But he has never once yelped in pain or looked in pain during his scratching. He has been checked by the vet and his ears always looked fine

We play all the time - tug of war - fetch - running and jumping perfectly fine. And I am able to rotate his head up and down with no resistance or pain

So I am having a hard time determining if this is normal behavior since he doesnít seem in pain and my vet isnít familiar with the disease

I am in a tough financial situation and cannot afford an MRI. So I am looking for some guidance from people who are familiar with this disease and what I need to look out for so I can tell what is normal puppy behavior and SM symptoms

I apreciate any advice and I look forward to hearing from you and meeting all of you.

4th September 2010, 01:51 AM
Hi Tiffany,
It's nice to meet you. I am sorry you are here because of your concern for Jake (he is very cute btw)
I can only tell you to check out some of the videos of SM behavior that I believe are posted on here in a different section.
Some of the things you list do sound like SM type behaviors but it could also be a multitude of other things. I am by far no expert, therefore, I think your best bet, if this continues to be a concern, is to take Jake to a neurologist who is familiar with the disease. Even if you don't do an MRI an experienced neuro vet can learn a lot from a thorough physical exam. This is just my opinion, perhaps others on here can give some additional advice.
Where in the US are you located? Only asking because it may help for others to recommend a neuro vet that they know who has experience with SM.
take care of yourself and that cute boy

4th September 2010, 02:17 AM
Hello - Thank you for your advice. I actually didnt think of seeing a neuro - that is a great idea. I may actually just to do that, I think its best to try and check it out.

I am on the east cost in the state of Rhode Island.

Nice to meet you as well, and ty :o

4th September 2010, 11:40 AM
Hi Tiffany -- I'd echo the advice above -- some of the things you describe sound like there are potentially signs of SM. You can get a clinical exam from a neurologist. There are lists of neurologists that are up to date for the US on www.cavalierhealth.org. Others here would be on the east coast and have SM dogs and might have recommendations. I would just be firm that you cannot manage an MRI at this time. LIVS in Long Island are very familiar with the condition but will definitely push for an MRI and if it shows SM at all, almost certainly push for surgery (I do not know of cases where they haven't argued for it as their main recommendation), which is very costly. So you may wish to get suggestions for alternative choices of neurologist given that you know at this time that this isn;t really a direction you wish to go in. There are some lower cost MRI centres along the east coast which the website above will note too, if that becomes an option.

Not all dogs have all signs of SM. And also some SM behaviours are normal in other dogs. Pain is very hard for an owner to assess when it is neuropathic pain -- many neurologists feel scratching alone is a sign of considerable discomfort on through to pain for SM dogs. In humans the key symptom of SM is severe headache which is very hard to assess in a dog.With Jake, the issue of walking and scratching a lot would be suspicious to me though, and also any leg weakness. I'd put Jake on a harness as this is generally better for small dogs (and large dogs!) anyway and almost always helpful for SM dogs.

I hate to say this but your breeder was really questionable to have attempted to charge you three times the amount for the papers for a dog -- this is shocking and reputable breeders would never do such a thing -- this is a scam generally done to dupe honest, trusting people (the reason they generally do try to charge more for the papers is that they hope you might want to start your own backyard breeding operation and pay to get an intact dog with papers :( ). Papers cost the breeder virtually nothing -- a registration fee of about $10 or so I think last time I saw a discussion on this. Reputable breeders in the US also home WITH papers because they put a limited registration on the dog that makes it incapable of being bred to produce registered puppies with papers (for potential backyard breeding) -- and they include a mandatory spay/neuter clause n their homing contract. The 5 year health guarantee is probably not worth the paper it is printed on but I'd read it carefully and see if they will cover costs for something like SM and the MRI and then I'd go after them tooth and nail. You might talk to your local free legal advice center on this as small claims would probably cover the cost of an MRI if needed. If the breeder is registered with AKC, CKCSC or ACKCSC (especially either of the latter two as they are the national breed clubs) I would report this behaviour as it is highly questionable and deceptive. These people just make me furious. I would definitely inform them by registered mail of any diagnosis you get 1) so they understand they are producing dogs with health issues 2) to give you some legal grounds to go after them with the 'health guarantee' if needed.

If you get a friendly and willing neurologist, they may be willing to try Jake on some of the basic SM medications to see if they help. If they do, then you are almost certainly dealing with SM. Your vet may be willing to try as well. You can download Dr Clare Rusbridge's treatment protocol from the website above, from my www.smcavalier.com, or from Dr Rusbridge's own website: http://www.veterinary-neurologist.co.uk/.