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mommytoClaire
29th January 2011, 07:43 PM
I hope this is the right place to post this, but some recent posts have really gotten me thinking.

I know that several of you have dogs with SM, and I am wondering a couple things. I'm hoping this thread will ease some of the minds of several here who have mentioned seeing SM issues in their young (puppy age) dogs.

Though I'm not seeing anything with my Claire, it's hard not to get anxious when you see your dog itching more than normal, or rubbing their face along the floor, or biting their feet, etc. (which I've read can also be signs of allergies too).

So I wanted to ask those of you that have SM dogs a few questions.


At what age did you first notice your dog's symptoms for SM?
What symptoms appeared first?
How long did you wait for an MRI?
Did you mention the symptoms to your Vet right away, or waited (if so how long)?
If you had it all to do over again, what would you do different?
How are you treating your SM dog (surgery or meds or both)?
Are you aware of 'young' (less than 1 year) pup's having symptoms that did indeed lead to a confirmation of SM?
It just seems that several folks have mentioned symptoms in their very young dogs, and I just wonder if hearing your stories in a shortened version would ease their minds.

My Claire has been itching more than normal, and bites on her rear and feet a bit, but I have noticed her skin is very dry right now (which is understandable since the heat is on excessively here with freezing temps here in Michigan). And I'm certainly not looking for symptoms that appear like SM. But, it's just good to hear others stories in more of a bullet form.

Charlifarley
29th January 2011, 08:20 PM
Hopefully Claire's symptoms are because of the warm air drying out her skin and nothing more. Maybe adding some fish oils to her diet would help with the irritation.





At what age did you first notice your dog's symptoms for SM?
What symptoms appeared first?
How long did you wait for an MRI?
Did you mention the symptoms to your Vet right away, or waited (if so how long)?
If you had it all to do over again, what would you do different?
How are you treating your SM dog (surgery or meds or both)?
Are you aware of 'young' (less than 1 year) pup's having symptoms that did indeed lead to a confirmation of SM?


Hi, this is a good idea for a post.
To answer your questions


I first noticed Bosco's symptoms when he was about 10 months old.
He air-scratched on both sides when we were out walking, or if he was excited. He also compulsively chased his tail from the time we got him as a very young puppy - as far as I know, this is a symptom that has a question mark over it.
It was five months later when he had an MRI - it took this long for a number of reasons - I didn't realise straight away what the symptoms were a sign of, my vet wanted to rule out other causes first, and then we had to wait to be seen in the Vet Hospital, then we had to wait for an appointment for an MRI, as the hospital doesn't have its' own machine.
Once I was concerned that it was SM I mentioned it more or less straight away to the vet.
I would probably suggest starting to treat with medication before waiting for an MRI to diagnose the condition.
Bosco is currently taking a combination of steroids and Lyrica.
Yes, Bosco was less than a year old when his symptoms started.

I would just add to this that when I brought Bosco to the Vet Hospital for the initial consultation, I also brought my other dog, because he was showing some symptoms that could have been SM, (regular scratching and irritation around his muzzle and ears, along with frequent bum scooting) but SM was ruled out, so, even if your dog is showing some of the signs of SM, it could easily simply be allergies, as it was in Trappers case.

Love my Cavaliers
29th January 2011, 09:13 PM
I didn't meet Riley until she was 8 months old and she was already exhibiting symptoms so I don't know when they started.
Almost all of Riley's symptoms have been related to damage to her vestibular system so she has serious imbalance problems but has never shown any scratching or has never had any obvious pain episodes. Her first symptoms were a head tilt (so cute) and knocking herself over when she did the whole body shake, both of which we just thought were little quirky Riley things and nothing to worry about
Unfortunately Riley was almost 6 years old before she had her MRI
I mentioned that she seemed kind of clumsy to the vet and that she seemd to lose her balance a lot and that she had trouble jumping, but that the breeder said that she had a very difficult birth and almost didn't make it so I attributed it to some brain damage at birth. She also started to have what I thought were mini-seizures lasting 10-15 seconds which I told the vet about. She asked if I wanted a referral to a neurologist, but I didn't want her on meds for the seizures since they were so minor and she came right out of them so I said no at that time. I asked for the referral when they started to occur more frequently and she was not jumping much and just didn't seem right.
If I had to do it over again, I would have asked for the referral to the neurologist immediately, but I had never heard of SM until she was diagnosed and I guess I didn't express enough concern to my vet for her to push an earlier referral. She obviously was taking her cues from me and I didn't seem that concerned.
Once Riley was diagnosed we started on a roller coaster ride of a short period of meds to see if we could stabilize her as her vestibular system was really beginning to decompensate. She was losing her balance and becoming weaker in her hind legs. We opted for surgery after two neurosurgeons gave us the exact same prognosis and recommendation. She had decompression surgery with a titanium mesh implant 2 years and 7 months ago and is on 5 mg prednisone a day and is doing phenomenally well. She will be 9 years old in August.
Yes, Riley was younger than 1 year when her symptoms started.
It's hard not to read SM symptoms into everything your dog does. But not everything is SM. Oliver loves to rub his face in the couch and the carpet after eating, he scoots all the time and he does not have SM (verified by MRI for a cervical disc problem).

Reptigirl
30th January 2011, 12:30 AM
At what age did you first notice your dog's symptoms for SM?
What symptoms appeared first?
How long did you wait for an MRI?
Did you mention the symptoms to your Vet right away, or waited (if so how long)?
If you had it all to do over again, what would you do different?
How are you treating your SM dog (surgery or meds or both)?
Are you aware of 'young' (less than 1 year) pup's having symptoms that did indeed lead to a confirmation of SM?



Although Flash has not been diagnosed with "SM" yet he was diagnosed with "CM" by MRI at 6 months old. Before starting medication he showed extreme & excessive SM symptoms that seemed to get worse on nearly a weekly basis. The key word here is extreme symptoms.


I got Flash at about 12 weeks old. Little did I know he was showing SM/CM symptoms from the time I brought him home.
His very first symptom was excessive scratching at his collar/neck, biting at his hindquarters,butt scooting and licking his paws. Two weeks after I got him I took him in to get a skin scraping done because he was losing the hair on his neck/shoulder & hind legs from all the scratching and biting. Vet couldn't find anything wrong with him and had me change food. His progression was rapid. It seemed like every week their were "new" symptoms that kept getting stronger.
By the time he was 14-16 weeks old I knew we had a problem and had started reading about SM. By 5-6 months old he was air scratching on lead, yelping, rubbing his head constantly(actually started to rub a bald spot on his head), twitching at night and restless. He went in for an MRI that diagnosed CM but due to his pain was put on daily medication.
Within 2 weeks but after seeing 3 vets and I had to push for an MRI because they were not familiar with SM/CM and didn't think he had a neurological issues
I wish for Flash's sake we had seen the neurologist a little sooner but really it only took us 3 months from the time we purchased him tell the time we saw the neuro. So really I don't think we could have done much different.
We are using medication right now but I think we will be looking into surgery around his 1st birthday.
Although it seems to be uncommon I have spoken to several people who have cavaliers less then 1 year old showing signs or having been diagnosed with SM/CM

Although I have posted the links to these videos before I think they offer a good reference point as to what (in my opinion) is considered extreme & excessive.

A lot of people worry because their dogs rub their heads on the ground. I think most floppy eared dogs will do this after a meal but Flash did it ALL the time. Any time he was up and playing. This is a typical night for him BEFORE medication. Especially near the end you see how he plays around rubbing his head:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s8TIAuOVrhc&feature=related

This video was taken in the middle of the night. Flash woke up in a panic and went into this episode. In my opinion it is a good example of Extreme and Excessive behavior.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMqE_pJWMW4&NR=1

anniemac
30th January 2011, 01:27 AM
At what age did you first notice your dog's symptoms for SM?

That's a tough one b/c I didn't know about sm so I would guess sometime before she was two

What symptoms appeared first?

Thinking back on it, she didn't seem to scratch much but she did enough for her vet to think allergies. She scratched also at her ears. I know she was treated for ear infections and we thought food allergies.

The first thing that really stood out to me was the way she walked and how she "looked funny" walking up the stairs.
How long did you wait for an MRI?

Right before Her 3rd birthday was when I read about SM. I noticed she would tire easily and seemed older than she was. Not her playful self. That's when I mentioned concerns to vet. April, did not have mri until january

Did you mention the symptoms to your Vet right away, or waited (if so how long)?

Yes all the time. I even took her to have him watch her walk up the stairs. So we had several trips. I mentioned SM but he said he knew about it, but did not think it was related. We started testing for food allergies. I do think you should rule out things but not this way. I told him it must be allergic to grass b/c that was the only time scratched. It was summer so it could be fleas (even though she had none). I had to eventually make him refer me to a neurologist b/c he kept thinking it was something else. Neurologist said she definately needed mri after clinical test.


If you had it all to do over again, what would you do different?

I would have gotten a second opinion or not waited as long as I did. I felt that since my vet told me he was very familiar with sm, I was over reacting since I felt I was the only one to notice.

I would have not
How are you treating your SM dog (surgery or meds or both)?

She had surgery and has never stopped taking meds. Second mri showed she developed scar tissue. She is on several medications and alternative therapy. I am always have to adjust medication.
Are you aware of 'young' (less than 1 year) pup's having symptoms that did indeed lead to a confirmation of SM?

I think others have answered your question
Il

personally, I can't tell you what is the right thing to do b/c I feel that if I instinctively knew. Better to be aware, but also to rule out other things (not as long as I did)
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Suvi and Mira
30th January 2011, 03:09 PM
At what age did you first notice your dog's symptoms for SM?
What symptoms appeared first?
How long did you wait for an MRI?
Did you mention the symptoms to your Vet right away, or waited (if so how long)?
If you had it all to do over again, what would you do different?
How are you treating your SM dog (surgery or meds or both)?
Are you aware of 'young' (less than 1 year) pup's having symptoms that did indeed lead to a confirmation of SM?



1. Mira was little over a one year old when I thought that there is something wrong with her.

2. Scratching ears.

3. & 4. Too long... First there was found some yeast from her ears and other places too. That was taken care and helped a little bit but scrathing continued anyway. I wasn`t very knowledgeable about SM but I read it from the internet and wondered could it be it? I asked advice from other people who know cavaliers and they tought there is many other reasons (allergies etc.) that could cost scratching. So they adviced me to wait and test if there is something else first. Mira was treated with yeast medication many times. It was already the spring and scrathcing got worse and Mira started to rub her ears to the floor and chase her leg also. I thought that could be allergy because trees etc. started to bloom and I have also pollen allergy and I had symptoms at that time. We agreed with our vet that we do allergy tests first and if there was not found anything I will take Mira to MRI scan. So we took Spot allergy tests and there was found allergens mostly with region matters but our vet said that there could be also food allergens. We started elimination diet, which is very long term project. The autumn came but symptoms didn`t fade away and some more came on to scene (lip licking and "making a bed") so I started to be very sure there is some neurological problems with my little girl. It was October when called to Espoo animal hospital and got appointment with neurologist at next week from that. Mira was diagnosed with CM, SM, PSOM and dilated ventricles at 26th October 2010. I know that was very assumable but however I was shocked about all those things.

5. If I could make decisions now, I would take dog to the MRI first and if there hadn`t found anything wrong then I would search for another reason for symptoms. But because this disease is so common in cavaliers I would do MRI first.

6. Fortunately Mira is doing pretty well with meds, hope it stays like that. She gets 60mg of gabapentin three times a day and beacause of dilation she have to eat also 2,5mg prednison every day. Our neurogist said that those are low doses and can be raised if needed.

7. I know a couple of cases here in Finland that dog has been very young when SM started to show signs. In our case I think Mira was over a year old but I can`t say sure because it might be chance that you ignore very small first signs of SM.

And I`m sorry if everything isn`t grammatical correct with my text but hope you will understand :o

Karlin
30th January 2011, 04:11 PM
At what age did you first notice your dog's symptoms for SM?
What symptoms appeared first?
How long did you wait for an MRI?
Did you mention the symptoms to your Vet right away, or waited (if so how long)?
If you had it all to do over again, what would you do different?
How are you treating your SM dog (surgery or meds or both)?
Are you aware of 'young' (less than 1 year) pup's having symptoms that did indeed lead to a confirmation of SM?

For mine: Jaspar who scanned clear, I thought I was seeing symptoms at under 1. Turned out to be PSOM which has now caused deafness and continues to cause scratching. Leo was scanned at the same time under the research programme and had no signs., but he had SM by one. He was symptomatic by age 2.5. Lily came into rescue at about age 1 and was symptomatic then -- telltale scratching. I kept her out of suspicion that she had SM. She was MRId a couple of years later when I recanned all the dogs, with a small syrinx. Tansy has not been scanned but likely has SM as the scratching and sensitivity of her sides is typical. I only noticed this after I kept her (she was another rescue).

I did not mention symptoms to my vet but instead went to a neurologist with the boys.

What I'd do different: start all dogs immediately on a CSF inhibitor as there is good evidence they can limit and can occasionally reduce syrinx development. I think all dogs with SM should be on a CSF inhibitor drug in addition to whatever else may be done.

Mine are treated with meds. Leo is worst affected and I would consider surgery if he declined but he has done well on meds. Fortunately his syrinx is centrally located even though it is wide.

I am aware of many cases of pups under one with symptoms being confirmed with SM. Many who get a later diagnosis realise they saw symptoms much earlier but didn't recognise them as such. At the same time signs are rare in puppies under 6 months and even under a year. Most affected symptomatic dogs show signs around 3-4 and are diagnosed then but some much later and some much earlier.

sins
30th January 2011, 04:48 PM
The first thing I noticed about Daisy was at 9 months she would continually blink one eye repeatedly,rather than closing her eyes as a pair(if that makes sense).
Around the age of 2,she could be a bit iffy on her front paw,jumping out of the car.
One day after coming back from a groomer she was definitely lame and I wondered if she'd fallen off the table.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Errr-HHmiw8
Just after her 2 nd birthday,I've wondered if the yelp she makes in this video was related to pain or not.I thought she'd been hit by a snowball,but I don't think it made contact with her.She pulls up rather quickly and opts out of the chasing game.
She became symptomatic at just after 3.She's basically a four year old cavalier in a nine year old body.
Sins

mommytoClaire
31st January 2011, 06:04 AM
Thank you all!

It's just good for all of us that are first time Cavalier owners to be aware of all that is related to SM. I wasn't even aware of SM (I was aware of MVD) until my Vet mentioned this disorder at my first puppy appt. She mentioned it because I had met another lady with Cavaliers upon coming to the Vet that day. My Vet then told me that the lady had one Cav with SM, and explained that the dog would be having surgery to help.

I always want to do right by Claire, and knowing that the statistic are pretty high for Cavaliers to have it, I want to be as informed as possible. Though I'm not 'looking' for symptoms, I'm not going to be ignorant to them either. I DON'T believe that ignorance is bliss, nor do I want to live in a place of denial.

Everything I can learn about this disorder is helpful in keeping Claire as healthy as possible. And helps me prepare for an unknown future. So I sincerely appreciate all your help. And personal stories and experiences are some of the best ways to learn. Especially on what you would do different.

I've already made the decision that I will buy pet insurance (just need to pick from the two I've narrowed it down to).

If Claire is ever dx'd with SM, we will handle it the same way we've handled things with our dogs in the past. One day at a time, well informed and doing what is best and right by them. I just know that it can be taxing financially, possibly much more so than what I've experienced with my Nash (diabetic/glaucoma, non Cav).

If there are others with SM, please continue to add your experiences, I find it sooo very helpful.

Again, thanks!

Cindy and Claire :lotsaluv:

lovecavaliers
1st February 2011, 02:56 AM
So I wanted to ask those of you that have SM dogs a few questions.


At what age did you first notice your dog's symptoms for SM?
What symptoms appeared first?
How long did you wait for an MRI?
Did you mention the symptoms to your Vet right away, or waited (if so how long)?
If you had it all to do over again, what would you do different?
How are you treating your SM dog (surgery or meds or both)?
Are you aware of 'young' (less than 1 year) pup's having symptoms that did indeed lead to a confirmation of SM?

-Looking back I think Jack first showed symptoms at 5 months old
-sometimes he would briefly bunny hop when on collar lead, scratching but it didn't seem excessive at the time. Perhaps I was in denial.
-I took him for an MRI after his 1 year check up with his regular vet. I mentioned my concerns about CM/SM, he palpated Jack's neck and Jack yelped, my heart sank. Jack was then started on omeprazole after consulting with a neuro vet. We did the MRI a few months later.
-Maybe I would have gone to the neuro a few months quicker as I hate to think Jack was suffering.
-Jack was MRI'd at 1 year and 4 months and shown to have CM with a "pre-syrinx". Although as mentioned, symptoms were present earlier. I plan to get him rescanned 2.5 years from intial MRI to see if there is any change or if clinically he worsens and I decide to have him get the surgery. He is currently on meds (gabapentin,keppra and omeprazole).

Chamberlain
1st February 2011, 04:10 PM
Thank you very much for posting this "mommytoClaire" I have found these posts to be very helpful!

mommytoClaire
2nd February 2011, 04:05 AM
Oh no problem, it's helping keep me educated, and as educated owners, we can always do 'better' by our dogs.

And it doesn't change how madly in love I am with my Claire. No matter what the future holds.

Chamberlain
3rd February 2011, 06:26 PM
Oh no problem, it's helping keep me educated, and as educated owners, we can always do 'better' by our dogs.

And it doesn't change how madly in love I am with my Claire. No matter what the future holds.


I agree! :-) On Saturday I went to a Pet Expo and saw a couple Cavalier Breeders, they all told me the same thing, "enjoy every day with your Cavalier and RELAX!" :lol: