View Full Version : SM in King Charles (AKA English Toys) ?

6th October 2010, 02:37 PM
(This is not about a Cavalier, but a close relative. If this post is in the wrong place, please feel free to move it)

My sister's little dog Gemma, a 3 year old King Charles puppy mill rescue, (not Cavalier) has yelped occasionally in the past, but only isolated incidents. We were watching it and thinking of bringing her into the vet if it continued, but Thursday her pain seemed to escalate substantially ... like nothing we'd seen before.

When my sister came home to walk her, she refused to walk, refused to go down the steps, was yelping when Lynn tried to put her harness on, panting, quivering, and very soft stool. We rushed her to the vet, and he did a very thorough spinal exam, but didn't see any issues. He also took x-rays and bloodwork. We were not sure at that point if her issues might have been related to her back or stomach related (she had a gassy tummy and the x-ray lots of food still in it even though she hadn't eaten for 10 hours).

The x-ray showed no Calcified discs and the vet was unable to get a pain response from her during the exam, but when he sat her on the ground and Lynn went to pick her up, she yelped - even before being touched, so the vet knows she IS experiencing pain, but we've been unable to isolate the cause.

We asked our vet about SM he didn't seem to know what we were talking about. When we explained it, he said "oh God No".

Because we were not sure of what the issue was she started on Flagyl (in case pain was stomach related). Her stools are back to normal and her pain is continuing so we have pretty much ruled out tummy issues as the cause of her pain. Lynn called the vet and we put her on baby aspirin over the weekend. That did help some - her appetite and energy came back a bit when the aspirin was recently given, but pain and lethargy back when it was wearing off. So now she is on Tramadol plus the aspirin. We'd have to stop aspirin for a few days to put her on Steroids but that might be a next step in case it is a disk problem. We've known a Cavalier and King Charles with IVD (disc disease), and Gemma's symptoms are similar, but again, we really don't know.

(By the way, this morning she seems to be doing better, no yelping, some moaning when picked up, but her appetite is back and she is more energetic. We are keeping her confined now to her crate and the x-pen to keep her from Jumping and keep Lucky and Sparky from playing too rough with her.)

Here's my question - does anyone know how common SM is in King Charles/English Toys? Should we be pushing this issue with our vet? From what I've read, if she was a Cavalier, SM would seem pretty likely given her symptoms. Gemma has Pet Plan pet insurance. For those in the states, did you need a Neurologist referral in order to have the visit covered by Pet Insurance?

Any advice or insight would be appreciated. Thanks.

By the way, here is a picture of Gemma with my Lucky Star rescue Sparky:

6th October 2010, 02:56 PM
Sorry to hear about Gemma. Yes SM does definitely occur in Charlies, but as they are a pretty rare breed you do not hear much about it.

I think I would arrange for her to see a neurologist experienced with Cavaliers - http://cavalierhealth.org/neurologists.htm

Print off the information from http://sm.cavaliertalk.com/ for the vet

keep us posted - thinking of your sister and wee Gemma

[I think it was your sister who had the elderly Lhaso who sadly passed away?]

6th October 2010, 04:51 PM
[I think it was your sister who had the elderly Lhaso who sadly passed away?]

Hi Nicki, thank you for the information. Gemma will likely be going back to the vet at the end of the week so we will share the info on SM. Karlin also mentioned hydrocephalus as a possibility. We just need to see if we need a neurologist referral or not for Pet Plan to cover her visit.

Hopefully it is just an injury an heals quickly, but it really doesn't seem that way to us, especially given the vet could not locate the source of pain.

Yes, Lynn's Lhasa Julie (aka "Jewels") passed away last year from cancer at 15.5. Lynn got Gemma from English Toy Spaniel Rescue to keep her little Razz company as the neighbors told her he was crying when left alone. Gemma's name is a little tribute to Jewels. :)

6th October 2010, 08:35 PM
Hey Lani I tried emailing you back but your mailbox is full. Clear some emails and then I can write!
U can also email me @ lverlayne@gmail.com

7th October 2010, 02:22 AM
i highly recommend Dr. West @ animal medical center in NYC. He deals with SM and cavaliers all the time, and he was so knowledgable and friendly. On our initial visit he spend almost 2 hours with Blondie. He will be able to further diagnose your doggie. A referral from your vet to a neurologist will probably be good for insurance reasons. I got insurance AFTER I found out about the SM and almost threw a fit seeing the medical bills for MRI etc.. I actually got the insurance when I suspected she had SM, but she was in so much pain @ the time I couldnt wait the 3 week waiting period to take her to the vet for an MRI... I was an emotional mess and now paying the dues for not waiting though.. Maybe wouldve been smarter to put her on painkillers for the 3 weeks, but she was suffering a lot because of an active PSOM... after that was relieved she got better... But now the insurance wont cover the 6000 surgery she eventually may need. The SM is now considered pre-existing. But after what I saw, car accidents,broken legs, cancer and other conditions can cost... I decided a pet insurance was probably not a bad idea even with the SM not covered. Well, A month after i got the health insurance I had to rush her to the hospital for vomiting blood. So ive already submitted a claim... Will see what happens. But id recommend insurance to anyone.

7th October 2010, 02:12 PM
Thanks. We have insurance on all the dogs but Sparky and Gemma especially we got insurance on because they are rescues and certainly no health checks done on their parents prior to breeding at the puppy mills. We actually bought the policies before we got them home.

Gemma seems to be doing really well this morning ... she ate breakfast with gusto! I let her eat with the boys and when I was finishing preparing their food, I think Sparky must have run into her when he was doing his food dance and I heard a little yelp, but that has been it. She is still on the Tramadol and Aspirin. I think Lynn is going to call the vet today to see how long she should be on it since we don't really know if she is feeling better or the meds are just masking the pain. She was scratching for a few minutes this morning, but no yelping other than that one time. Lynn's going to try to get a video of her scratching.

22nd October 2010, 12:39 AM
I wanted to provide an update on Gemma and also take a second to thank Karlin for the wealth of information she provides for all of us on the SM Infosite.

Gemma is doing 95% better. We are still keeping her quiet and not letting he do steps, but she has her energy and cute spunky Charlie personality back. That said, she has been sratching a bit on one side and still yelps at least once a day when we touch her near her head.

We had a follow-up exam with the vet today. Again, he did a very thorough physical exam, moving her neck/head, pressing on her spine etc. She moaned a bit when he was touching hear her head. He was a bit stumped and not sure of where to go next when we asked him again about SM and provided him Karlin's symptoms document. He read it and is a bit skeptical because he never heard of it before, but he is going to do some research on his own - which I think is a great thing! I also gave him the pet owner info from the LIVS website http://caninechiariinstitute.org. I figured providing him a website compiled by veterinary experts might help too.

He reviewed the symptoms and isn't ruling it out. He is going to research on his own. Gemma is a lot better so we are not rushing to see the Neurologist or get an MRI. That said we are touching base with the vet in a week. By then he will hopefully be a bit more educated in SM and if Gemma's yelping is persisting, we will probably take her for a neurologist consult.

Edited to add: our vet called today and has already done his research. He was shocked to learn in his research that 40% of Cavaliers might have SM and he hadn't known about it before! We are going to see how Gemma is in a couple weeks, if she's not 100% (she's 95% now) she will go for a neurology consult. Otherwise, if she is all better she will be getting a dental and the vet will check for PSOM as well, since he thinks her symptoms also could be PSOM. (she needs a dental as she has teeth falling out and her teeth are very hard to brush with her squished in nose!) Love our vet for doing the research so quickly and being open to learning something new from his clients.

25th October 2010, 09:42 PM
Hey Lani,

That's funny that I have the same name as the pup :cool: We have pet plan insurance and you do need referral from your regular vet to see the neurologist. When Corey had mri & decompression surgery, pet plan covered 70% of the cost and it was a huge help. Good thing that you have pet plan, most of insurances won't cover heredity conditions. I can only say good things about Pet Plan and recommend it to anyone that have pets. Best of luck!

26th October 2010, 03:19 AM
... Yes SM does definitely occur in Charlies, but as they are a pretty rare breed you do not hear much about it. ...

I agree, unfortunately. King Charles also may suffer from CM/SM. Lani, you are giving your vet a seminar in SM.

Margaret C
26th October 2010, 01:40 PM
I agree, unfortunately. King Charles also may suffer from CM/SM. Lani, you are giving your vet a seminar in SM.

It is well known that Charlies have SM. In the UK many Cavalier breeders also own or breed King Charles Spaniels, and owners will quite openly talk about how it is "rife in the breed" and how common it is to see them scratching and bunny hopping in the show ring.

I was recently offered the body of a 5 year old Charlie for the SM Collection Scheme. Poor little dog was diagnosed 3 years ago and had been put to sleep because of severe seizures. Sire was owned and bred by Cavalier people.

26th October 2010, 03:04 PM
It is well known that Charlies have SM.

That Margaret. The background you gave on Charlie owners and breeders is quite interesting.

I have looked and haven't really been able to find much online about Charlies with SM. That said, our vet understands the relationships of Charlies to Cavaliers so understands that what Gemma has going on might be SM, although all the veterinary research he found seems to be specific to Cavaliers. I guess it's just such an unusual breed, especially here in the US that there isn't much written on it.