View Full Version : how old on average is SM diagnosed

2nd January 2011, 07:02 PM
as the title says really. Not sure if I'm being paranoid but I had never heard of SM until finding this site. I read lots on it and now I have my pup She is doing some things that have been pointed out as symtoms. She is scooting (but did have worms) scrating her ear and neck area and tonight for the first time rubbed her head along the floor - but she did just have her head in a bowl of custard! As I say I don't know if I am being paranoid and she is just being a pup or if there could be something there. :(

2nd January 2011, 07:10 PM
How old is your puppy? It's unusual for a puppy to have SM.

I think the head in a bowl of custard explains why she was rubbing her head along the floor.cl*p so I wouldn't get worried on this occasion alone.
All dogs will rub their 'chops' along the rug/carpet after a particularly tasty meal if they have any gravy, or custard, around their muzzle.

2nd January 2011, 07:57 PM
I doubt you are seeing issues in a young puppy though it is always possible. Probably most dogs are diagnosed at around age 4 as this is a progressive disease but early onset cases have been seen as young as 8-12 weeks. I have lots of videos and information at www.smcavalier.com and there's a huge range of info as well at www.cavalierhealth.org.

As the symptoms sheet at smcavalier.com explains, the issue with SM is that early signs can look much like normal behaviour but the behaviour tends to be obsessive or excessive in SM dogs. The videos can help you se the difference.

I am sorry you hadn't heard about the condition earlier -- it actually is one of the things you want a breeder to be testing for before buying a puppy. :( But many new buyers won't know that without finding that information somewhere in advance, which can be hard to do. Sadly a lot of breeders (as well as pet shops etc) will not discuss key breed health issues with buyers or volunteer health testing information ( in many cases because they do not bother to health test anyway :mad:). Any responsible breeder should at a minimum talk through MVD (as pretty much every cavalier is going to eventually have this -- half by only age 5) and SM (as it seems likely from breed research samples that at least 50% will also have this by age 6-7, though thankfully many will never show symptoms or need medication/surgery). They should also discuss patellas (knees) and eyes with buyers.

A diagnosis of SM can mean many different things. Some have very mild symptoms or none all their lives; some progress, some slowly and some rapidly and some in between; some have a fairly normal life; some suffer a lot of pain; some are euthenised at a young age because the pain is too intense.

Many of our member have cavaliers with SM -- some have lost their dog to it, some at very young ages; others manage their dogs well; some manage but it is more challenging; some easily manage it with few symptoms. It all varies.

For context: I have five dogs; two have MVD and three have SM. With MVD, 1 is on meds and one isn't; with SM, one is on meds and two aren't but will be going on something fairly moderate.

Two of mine with SM were diagnosed around age 1-2; one is 7. With MVD, one got a murmur at 6, one at 7. For most breeds, murmurs are something seen in very old age, not at only 6 or 7. These problems are a major challenge for the future of the breed.

2nd January 2011, 08:30 PM
I know it's said to be uncommon ... but my pup came home at 12 weeks of age showing symptoms... at 6 months old he was diagnosed with Chiari Malformation and the neurologist expects it to progress to SM rapidly. At 9 months old he is on medication 3 times daily and the dosage has been raised 3 times to keep him happy and comfortable. In the last 3 months I have met several other people online who's puppy has SM symptoms...

Try not to worry too much though. Rubbing the ears and scratching is a normal behavior in dogs... but CM/SM dogs tend to do it in extreme. My pup would scratch at his neck and rub his butt so much that he had bald spots develop. He also rubbed his head so much on the floor that when I took him to the neurologist he was missing a patch of fur on his head.

Here is a video of my puppy around 6 months old... it gives you an idea just how excessive the rubbing became before medication. It consumed much of his awake time. Not just after a meal.. but most of his actives would be interrupted by a rubbing episodes.

There are also other videos on there of my puppy doing other CM/SM behaviors.

My pup started with just constant scratching at his neck and it would be extremely aggravated by a collar. I figured it was just normal puppy who didn't want to wear a collar.. but it went on for 2 weeks before I realized there was a problem. In 2 months time it progressed from just scratching to pawing at the head, excessive licking of the paws, yelping when picked up, rubbing his head, occasional yelping for no reason, extremely restless nights, leg twitching, tail chasing and barking at things that were not there.

I'm told my puppy is an extreme case and that symptoms vary from dog to dog. This is just my personal experience. Hope this helps. Feel free to PM if you have any questions.

Cathy Moon
2nd January 2011, 10:43 PM
Just for a few more examples:
I have early vet records from Charlie, a cavalier I adopted in 2007 (now deceased); his records note that he showing severe neurological deficits at age 5 months.

Our Geordie was diagnosed at age 4, but looking back we noticed some SM symptoms earlier than that.

3rd January 2011, 01:32 AM
I worry about it too with my young pup. I always see symptoms, but I also usually have a reason why she is showing those symptoms in the back of my head (she is scratching because this is a new collar, etc).

It is hard for an educated Cavie owner to not worry about SM, it is like everything is a symptom :(

I have no idea when dogs are diagnosed. I suppose a dog could have it for several years and one would not know it until symptoms got severe.

3rd January 2011, 01:57 AM
i noticed Lola's symptoms the start of January, she was 1. But now i realise she did do the SM 'air guitar' scratch a few times from when she was about 5 months old :(