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sarahsum
6th October 2011, 12:25 PM
Hi everyone, I'm new to this forum....but we are here because my 2 year old border collie has been diagnosed with severe Hydrosyringomyelia. We had an MRI two weeks ago & before that he was being treated for a slipped disc for a week, unfortunately the meds for that made his condition worse. We have been on steroids, gabapentin, frusemide & antibiotics for 10 days. I see you mention CSF inhibitors....what are they? he has typical cav symptoms, scratching, loss of front leg use, sensitivity to noise, scoliosis in his neck....my vet can't believe he is seeing all this in a collie! He has dilated ventricles, and a severe syrinx which tracks all down his cervical spine, it takes up the most of his cord in places, plus a hydrocephalus....:(

I can see this forum being INVALUABLE as a source of information & help, its great to be able to read other peoples stories of this horrible condition.
sarah

Kate H
6th October 2011, 11:56 PM
Hi Sarah
Welcome to the Forum, though I'm sorry for the reason you have joined. As vets and owners become more aware of SM symptoms, cases seem to be coming to light in more and more breeds, though so far most of the dogs with the disease have been in smaller toy breeds. Your collie sounds as if he is in a lot of pain, so I do hope his meds will help. It does sometimes take several months and some trial and error to get the balance of meds right. Frusemide is actually a CSF inhibitor - CSF stands for cerebro-spinal fluid, and an inhibitor or diuretic decreases the general level of fluids in the body and so relieves the pressure in the brain, as the fluid moves more slowly than it should and accumulates in the brain ventricles - which is why your dog has dilated ventricles, which in turn can force the skull outwards and cause hydrocephalus. You will find a lot of information on Clare Rusbridge's website (www.Veterinary.neurologist.co.uk (http://www.Veterinary.neurologist.co.uk)), and she has a treatment algorithm (suggestions for treatment in different situations) that you can print off and take to your vet - he might find it interesting and useful if he doesn't already know it.

I was particularly interested (and concerned) to hear that a border collie could have SM. I do competition obedience with my two Cavaliers and so meet many, many border collies. Neck problems are very common - hardly surprising considering the ridiculous angle at which some of them hold their heads doing heelwork! - but I have heard of very few - if any - having MRI scans rather than X-rays to diagnose the problems. So pain in the neck and spine may be more than just misalignment or inflamed discs. Did your vet have any idea how your dog's SM was caused? With Cavaliers SM stems from a malformation at the base of the skull (CM) which blocks the flow of CSF and leads to all the subsequent problems (some of which can occur without the presence of a syrinx), and seems to have a genetic and hereditary basis.

I hope the meds make a real difference - and let us know how your collie gets on.

Kate, and Cavaliers Oliver (with SM) and Aled

Charlifarley
7th October 2011, 12:04 AM
Hi and welcome to the forum. It's a devastating diagnosis but at least now you know what has been causing all the different symptoms. You are right, this is a great resource for information and where owners can share their many varied experiences of the disease and what does and doesn't work for their dogs. I hope you will see an improvement in your collies' symptoms soon.

Desrae
7th October 2011, 12:17 AM
Hello and you're very welcome icon_welcome to Cavaliertalk. This is indeed an invaluable place for information, education... and support. I hope you can find some relief for your collie and that the symptoms improve.

Sydneys Mom
7th October 2011, 12:30 AM
Welcome to the forum. Sorry your dog has beeb diagnosed with this horrible disease. This is a good place to gather lots of information.

Margaret C
7th October 2011, 12:50 AM
Welcome to the club that nobody wants to belong to.

Many of us know what it is like to live with SM dogs, watching how they can suffer and trying to find the best cocktail of medication to keep them comfortable. There is a lot of support here.

As you may have realised we are very keen to help SM research on this forum, and I wonder whether you would be willing to email UK researcher Penny Knowler and let her know about your young Collie?

Her email address is penny.knowler@ntlworld.com

Many thanks,

anniemac
7th October 2011, 03:25 AM
Welcome to the forum and sorry to hear about your fur baby. You will find some great help here. Did you happen to post about your border collie on a sm facebook group? The reason I ask is because someone posted recently asking if bordie collies have been known to have SM.

Sent from my Droid using Tapatalk

Karlin
7th October 2011, 07:39 AM
Welcome and ask any questions you'd like. :flwr:

Penny Knowler would be very interested in hearing from you, if you will email her. :)

Karen and Ruby
7th October 2011, 10:52 AM
Welcome and ask any questions you'd like. :flwr:

Penny Knowler would be very interested in hearing from you, if you will email her. :)


I beleive you have Emailed Dr Rusbrudge already- she mentioned an Email from someone with a Collie with SM and Hydrocephelus when I was with her yesterday. There can't be many of those about!!

The drugs you have been given are pretty normal for SM treatment- as Kate said Frusomide is a CSF inhibiter, Gabapentin is the pain killer.

What drugs were you given that made it worse?

sarahsum
7th October 2011, 01:58 PM
What drugs were you given that made it worse?[/QUOTE]

Hi everyone...thanks for your replies....i saw a deterioration of his condiotion when he was put on Tramadol & Diazepam when he was initially thought to have a slipped disc, plus the GA for the scan really knocked him off his feet for 2-3 days. Poor Blue.
Once we started omeprazole, steroids & gabapentin & frusemide there was such a dramatic improvement! he was able to attend training class & go for a walk & run again. Then we stopped the omeprazole & 2 days later there was a gradual decline back to wobbly Blue with dragging of his front legs. I went back to the vet today & he has put us back on the omepraziole so fingers crossed we see an improvement again. Initially we were on it as a drug to protect his tummy, but now i see it has beneficial "side" effects.
I will definitely email penny, and yes I did send Clare Rusbridge an email yesterday....i will leave no stone unturned in an effort to help my lad. I also had a really helpful email from a lady in Memphis!!
I think a friend of mine asked on a facebook page if anyone knew of a collie with SM....i didn't know there was a page...i will look!

Thankfully he doesn't seem to be in too much discomfort, he doesn't yelp out in pain like i have seen some dogs do, and he loves play time...lay on a bed settee just in case he tumbles....its amazing to see how he has adapted. the vets seem to think it has been a gradual onset since he was born, an embyological defect, although i don't suppose they know for sure. looking back over this year, i can now see things that have been happening over the last few months that are indicative of what has been going on. We went for the scan because he had a massive tumble in the garden & screeched in pain, at the time we thought the fall was the problem, but now we know that his legs probably gave and he went head over heels because of his SM. I had him down as being a bit clumsy, or too fast for his own good, but now i know differently.
He is such a trooper, and so plucky, he's a dog in a million!

mommytoClaire
8th October 2011, 05:02 PM
So sorry to hear about your Blue. This is a perfect place for you to learn and bounce off treatments ideas with others who have dogs with this condition.

He sounds like a wonderful dog. I hope you can find the magic formula that will relieve his issues and keep him mobile and comfortable.

Pat
8th October 2011, 05:38 PM
What drugs were you given that made it worse?[/QUOTE]

i saw a deterioration of his condiotion when he was put on Tramadol & Diazepam when he was initially thought to have a slipped disc

Diazepam (Valium) would definitely make his symptoms worse and cause him to be even more unsteady on his feet.

So glad that you are finding resources to help Blue, and that your experience in turn will help the research on SM.

Pat

Nicki
8th October 2011, 05:58 PM
I was so sad to read about poor Blue, but pleased that you have found us and really hope we can help and support you. I had not come across this as a problem in Border Collies, but just doing a search have found this:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15844429

A 6-month-old female Border Collie was examined because of a 1-month history of progressive curvature of the cervical portion of the vertebral column. Radiography revealed severe cervical and thoracic scoliosis. Cervical syringomyelia and hydrocephalus were observed by means of magnetic resonance imaging. Suboccipital craniotomy and laminectomy of the first cervical vertebra were performed, and substantial improvement in the scoliosis and syringomyelia was observed 3 months after surgery. No recurrences were seen during the first year after surgery.


It's good that you have been in touch with Clare - and will contact Penny.


There has been some recent discussion about the use of Frusemide as a CSF inhibitor, Clare prefers Cimetidine [Zitac] which is a very gentle drug - but if Blue has stomach issues it may be that he needs Omeprazole? It might be worth checking with your specialist.

If you have not found it yet, this is Clare's website. you can download a treatment algorithm to print off for your vet from this site, from Syrinogmyelia, downloadable PDFs. http://www.veterinary-neurologist.co.uk/

http://cavaliermatters.org/ has lots of useful tips and is written to be easy to understand
http://sm.cavaliertalk.com/ has lots of useful info and sheets you can print off for the vet

Are you seeing a neurologist?

It's just tragic to hear about this in such an active breed. I have a Cavalier who lived to run, who sadly has bad symptoms from "just" the malformation, and can no longer run - she gets very frustrated and depressed.

sarahsum
8th October 2011, 06:52 PM
Yeah, I have my doubts about the frusemide being of any use. We initially had the omeprazole as a stomach protection for just five days and he improved so much on that and all the other drugs. Then over the course of this week, after the omeprazole had stopped, he has been getting worse and worse. I went back to the vets on Friday and asked to go back onto the omeprazole and he agreed (after I had seen it on this forum!). I was in despair this morning as he was so listless, wouldn't eat his food out of his bowl, I had to hold it on a saucer for him, and after he weed mid morning he just crumpled in front of me, his legs completely went as in a faint. He was fine in a few minutes, so I am wondering if his blood pressure dropped after he had been to the loo. This afternoon though he has been trying to trip me up with a football and is steadier on his feet, so I am hoping the omeprazole is working his magic. I have changed his diet to a more gentle, natural food. And I am careful what treats he has.
He is a bit of a novelty in border collie world, so it is so helpful to come on here and read other people's stories and know that we are not alone in what we are going through.
I notice there is a referral centre in Chester that specialises in these cases, we live an hour away. I'm wondering if it is worth getting a consultation there to see if we can tweak his meds. I'm not too keen on surgery after seeing him post GA after the scan.
Incidentally the factor causing us to go to the vet in the first place was also neck scoliosis and dragging of his left front foot. Looking back I can see that for about three weeks before that he had been displaying typical symptoms....scratching under his belly, little yips when he jumped up on occasion (I mentioned that when we had our boosters in august and the vet checked his neck and it was ok), and he had been out of sorts for a few weeks too. Interestingly at obedience when doing a recall he had started to come in cock eyed, I thought it was my handling or him being lazy, but now I know different. None of our vets have ever seen this before in a collie. I always knew he was special, he's my angel.

Nicki
8th October 2011, 07:14 PM
He sounds such a very special boy and is so lucky to have a really caring guardian.

I do think he needs to be under the care of a neurologist, really vets are like GPs, anything complicated like this really needs to be under the care of a specialist.

Few quick tips - raise his food and water bowls so he doesn't have to bend forwards [try to avoid him having to pick things up off the floor until he is more comfortable]. Also try a harness rather than a collar, sometimes it takes a bit of experimentation to find something they are comfortable with - often a collar will trigger scratching.

Maybe even try soft foods if he is feeling this bad at the moment? You could soak kibble or if he is on raw, use minces rather than bones etc, sorry just seen you've put him on something more natural anyway.


Are your vets familiar with Syringomyelia at all? Obviously you are extremely unlikely to find a vet [or possibly even a neurologist!] who has dealt with it in Collies before.

Sometimes it can be very sore for them to toilet, depending where he is feeling the pressure from the syrinxes - more usually when they defecate though.


Keep asking and posting, that's how we learn and slowly the pieces come together. It is helpful to write/type it down to take it to an appointment, as it's hard to remember everything.

sarahsum
8th October 2011, 07:53 PM
I am starting a diary to record it all, as the breed health club is interested, and it helps put bad days into perspective.
We have got rugs and raised bowls and a fab harness with a handle on top which is great for steadying him with. I am back at the vets for bloods on Monday, I am lucky to have fantastic vets, my own vet treats cavs with the similar condition so is familiar with treatments. The vet from the practice that did the MRI in Yorkshire only suggested frusemide and I mentioned steroids and he was dismissive, but he was only young, maybe he hadn't come across the condition before. But a trip to a neurologist is a definite good idea, does anyone know of any particularly good ones in the North West?

Kate H
8th October 2011, 09:17 PM
The team at Chestergates are probably your nearest - they have a website if you google the name. Steroids seem to be used more as a last resort if pain becomes difficult to control, because of the side effects; most vets won't start dogs on them, unless they're needed for a short period to get acute pain under control.

One thing to look out for is that pain and discomfort can increase when there is a marked change in air pressure - on grey, rainy days, for example, when the pressure can drop quickly. Something to do with changing pressure within the ventricles, I think. Check with your vet whether it's OK to give an extra gabapentin when this happens - or perhaps to keep some metacam in the cupboard just to give an extra boost of pain relief.

Frusemide isn't ineffective, but it can have side effects in dogs that have the heart disease that is very common in Cavaliers, which is why some neurologists are moving away from using it. And it does make dogs wee a lot!

I think we all find that once a dog is diagnosed with SM we realise how many early signs we missed, simply because we didn't know what to look for - Cavalier owners tend to get a bit paranoid about watching their dogs, but having it in a collie must have been a complete bolt from the blue! It can take several weeks, even months, to get the cocktail of drugs exactly right for a particular dog, so keeping a diary is a good idea to record how Blue reacts to the various drugs and doses.

Kate, Oliver and Aled

sarahsum
8th October 2011, 09:43 PM
His daily meds are 20mg frusemide twice a day, 10mg prednisolone once a day, 100mg gabapentin twice daily, 20mg omeprazole 20mg once daily. As his condition is so severe my vets opinion was to bombard him with all this then work at reducing dosage accordingly..obviously we can't do without the omeprazole as the past few days has taught us! He has severely enlarged ventricles and in places his spinal cord is almost obliterated, so I guess there is a sense of urgency in getting his csf pressure reduced. He doesn't know where his front legs are half the time, the vets are amazed he can walk at all. He's been playing tonight and following me around so I think he s showing signs of the pressure reducing.

Love my Cavaliers
8th October 2011, 10:38 PM
Riley is the one of my four with severe SM. Like Blue, she had a very severe reaction to the GA for the MRI scan. She was unable to sit or stand for hours afterwards. They even kept her overnight for observation. Riley's main problem with SM was a very damaged vestibular system. Her syrinxes covered almost her entire spinal cord and she also had a large cerebellar cyst. We did elect to do decompression surgery on her even knowing how she barely handled the MRI. Her neurologist understood the concerns and watched her carefully during surgery, gave her different drugs and she came through with flying colors.

Before surgery her balance was so bad and combined with the weakness in her rear legs, she had to lean on the walls or cabinets to walk, otherwise she would fall over. She still cannot jump due to her leg weakness, but the surgery combined with daily prednisone has helped her balance tremendously. She still has pain - she hides under chairs and tables to get away from my other dogs at times, but she's a happy dog and she loves life. She catches chipmunks in the yard and loves to go on walks.

Kate's right - it does take a while to find the right drugs and dosage for your dog. After surgery even, it probably took close to six months before Riley did the best on Prednisone alone. She's been on it now for three years and it's been a miracle drug for her.

Good luck with Blue. He sounds like such a sweet boy. I'm glad he's back to playing and following you around.

sarahsum
8th October 2011, 10:46 PM
Crikey, Blue sounds so much like Riley. He has a large fluid filled cavity in his ventricles, one at the base of his skull and most of his cervical spine has gone. He still jumps....scares me to death, but I think his back legs are so strong that it carries him through, but his front legs flop all over the place. And he leans against stuff to help him. I am going to see if he stabilises on this omeprazole and gets a bit of improvement, and I am going to see if we can get a referral to Chester Gate vets, all your stories are giving me a bit of hope. At the moment I cant see past the next 24 hours!

sarahsum
9th October 2011, 06:54 PM
I've spent all day trawling through all the SM posts on here! We have been back on the omeprazole for three days, he has has lost that dull look in his eyes and has instigated play behaviour so I can only assume he is feeling better. He has also stopped choking/coughing when he is eating, on Tuesday morning he wouldn't eat at all,I had to feed him from a saucer as he was lay down. He is still dragging both front feet so I am busy cutting up play mats for our path outside.....he did however make an attempt to chase a bird so that made me smile. These dogs have such courage!
His balance however is awful, my brother came to visit earlier and of course Blue got excited and he just couldn't keep upright. I am definitely going to ask for a referral to Chester Gates from my vet. It makes sense that it would be the right place to take Blue to, my vet has been excellent but I would value an experts opinion. In one way his novelty factor might bode well for a speedy appointment!. I tend to look at Blues future as short term but reading all your stories there are some brave little dogs that do well for maybe years on the correct treatment....so that is my new plan of action! It's so hard to sat positive when you see the confusion on your dogs face and the struggle they have, but you have to fight just as hard as them, and be the person they are worthy of.

Sabby
10th October 2011, 10:49 AM
Just wanted to say that you sound an amazing mum to Blue and I hope Chestergate will sort out the medication for you. I got two Cavaliers with CM/SM and what you said in your last post is so true.

But you have to fight just as hard as them, and be the person they are worthy of.

sarahsum
10th October 2011, 08:46 PM
I hope this works....Blue has been fantastically bright today! On Saturday he was miserable, listless, not eating properly and moved away when I tried to touch him, it was grim, his balance was terrible. Like he had vertigo.
Today he is so much better, thank heavens for omeprazole, the difference is startling. I am hoping this link to a you tube video works...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSJJ1XCGm54

Kate H
10th October 2011, 10:01 PM
Hi Sarah

Watched your video and that was one happy dog - give or take a few backleg wobbles! The gabapentin will have helped as well, as it is a pain preventive and helps to make dogs more confident about moving around when they realise it isn't going to hurt. So glad Blue is responding well to his medication - though no doubt there will be a few hiccups on the way! My Oliver had trouble with his front leg - it was one of his first obvious symptoms of SM (there were a lot more, less obvious, that we all missed!), stumbling and not wanting to put weight on it; this was due to the nerves in the leg not working properly, but after 2 years on gabapentin and frusemide it seems fine and he never stumbles. So things can improve - we just have to keep fighting...

Kate, Oliver and Aled

Holly
11th October 2011, 03:45 AM
You may also want to look into adjusting the Gabapentin to 3/day as it typically is out of their system in about 8 hours, though with my girl with SM, it wears off in about 6 hours. Some days she needs 4 Gabapentin, though she does have a severe case of SM.

Good luck to you!

sarahsum
11th October 2011, 08:46 AM
We can get to Chester Gates next week to see the specialist there, so I am asking my vet to refer me today. So he may well tweak the meds. He downtown honestly seem to be in pain now, he doesnt yelp out, he goes very quiet and withdrawn. He was obviously really struggling with his head last week before the omeprazole kicked in, thank God I saw it on here and Clare Rusbridges site!

Blondiemonster
12th October 2011, 12:28 AM
Sorry to hear about your border and welcome!!!
People are wonderful on this board...
I was wondering about one little thing: you said 100mg's twice a day right? Isn't 100 mg very low for a border who weighs much more than a cavalier? maybe some people on here can answer this for me..

sarahsum
12th October 2011, 09:28 AM
Your talking about the gabapentin? I can increase it to three tablets a day if I want, but to be honest he doesn't seem to be in discomfort. I believe it's 5mg per kg body weight twice a day starting dose, increased to 10 mg per kg if necessary, so that would make it 200mg twice a day. When he has been in pain in the past he just takes himself off and doesn't like you touching him, maybe that's a difference in the breeds as to how they show pain? My vet has referred me now to chester gates, so hopefully a neurologist can tweak things. But at the moment, apart from a few wobbles, he is doing fine. He isn't dragging his feet as badly and is instigating lots of play behaviour. It feels like a miracle!

Love my Cavaliers
12th October 2011, 03:07 PM
Hey, I'm glad you got the referral. Do you have any video of Blue with his front legs crumbling so the neurologist can see him at his worst and not his best? They can usually tell anyway by their exam how bad a dog is. Good luck next week. I'll be anxiously waiting to hear what they recommend for your guy.

sarahsum
12th October 2011, 03:55 PM
No! I'm a numpty! I should have videoed him when he was bad, but I got so upset I just didn't want to! Mind you, he has plenty of symptoms still for him to work off. I did take some photos last week as I'm preparing a report for the pastoral breeds health committee, they want to know all the details as no one has come across with a collie with this condition before. We are booked in to see Mr Skerritt next Wednesday at 2.30pm. In a weird way I'm looking forward to it, it will be good to get a neurological explanation for some of his problems
I'll tell you what's interesting, in collie obedience work when they do heel work they are meant to have their head right back, almost at ninety degrees to their body, looking at the handler. My dog training club teacher pointed out over a year ago that Blue was very uncomfortable doing this, he dropped his back end right down to lift his head high, we didn't make him do it as I never intended going into competition, but his neck must have felt stiff even back then. Loads of little things make sense now.

murphy's mum
12th October 2011, 06:38 PM
It's good that you have your referral, and I completely understand about looking forward to it, it does help having a neurologist to speak to. We had battled our old vet for months on Misty, after changing vets it only took a 20 minute consult to get our referral, and I felt nothing but relief at the time.

Try not to dwell on the signs you think you may have missed, I was very angry with myself for not changing vets sooner, but someone on here pointed out it does no good to kick yourself over it. Hindsight is indeed a great thing :rolleyes:

I never had any videos to show Allison when I went to Glasgow on Monday, I just wrote down a list of Misty's symptoms beforehand. Again, that advice was from someone on here, I forget who, my memory has been terrible lately. It was just in case I forgot anything on the day, as it can be very overwhelming, I felt sick to my stomach waiting in reception.

sarahsum
13th October 2011, 12:13 PM
Lets see if this works...a photo of Blues scan, not very good quality but you get the idea. I pick up the hard copy today.

http://i1101.photobucket.com/albums/g432/lopside/Blues scan/IMG_4386.jpg

Karen and Ruby
13th October 2011, 12:30 PM
Goodness me!

Now i've never seen an MRI of a Border Collie but even I can see that isn't normal,

I presume the big white blob in his brain is the Hydrocephalus and his spine is almost white in colour and surely should be grey!!

I'm so pleased that the Pastoral Club are taking such an interest, its things like this (getting info early) that will make all the difference!

I'm not saying that SM is an issue in the Border Collie BUT maybe eith early intervention it won't be a problem in the future!!!

sarahsum
13th October 2011, 01:12 PM
yes, those are his enlarged ventricles & as you can see his syrinx is huge! in cross section in places you can hardly see any healthy cord. yet today he is bouncing round our warehouse at work trying to trip me up with a burst football, apart from the occasional wobble you wouldnt think he had anything wrong with him! he is a Fantastic dog & i am so proud of his ability to cope! :l*v:

Love my Cavaliers
20th October 2011, 12:23 AM
How did you and Blue get along at Chestergate's today? I believe today was his appointment, right?

sarahsum
20th October 2011, 12:26 AM
Blue has been to see Mr Skerritt at Chestergates....he was really kind to us and very helpful. We have decided to stick to the meds for the time being, we can half his frusemide dose, stick with the omeprazole and gabapentin, and look at dropping his steroid dose. We chatted about a ventricular shunt but I am really loathe to rock the boat, in that a few weeks ago I thought I would never see my dog run on a beach again, or climb the stairs again, but Blue is so joyous in himself at the moment and loving his walks etc, his foot drag has disappeared and apart from the occasional wobble and his eyes getting red on occasion, you wouldn't know he had anything wrong with him. So you can see why I am reluctant to Put him through a big operation. Maybe if he started to become tolerant to the omeprazole or showed signs of deterioration I might consider it, but at the moment it's just so nice to have my chirpy chappy back! We go back in three months but will do a monthly progress report. I'm very pleased we saw Mr Skerritt, he has answered lots of questions and given us a sense of direction.

sarahsum
20th October 2011, 12:27 AM
How did you and Blue get along at Chestergate's today? I believe today was his appointment, right?

Oops....I just posted before I saw this....great thanks! As great as u get with this horrid condition....but quite positive and informative!

Love my Cavaliers
20th October 2011, 03:26 PM
I'm glad you had such a good experience but more glad that Blue is doing so well. Omeprazole seems like the miracle drug for him. Isn't it great to have your dog back? That's how I felt when Riley started on prednisone. Hopefully Blue will stay this way for a long, long time - especially since he's still so young. Keep coming on this board and let us know how he is. He's an honorary cavalier.

sarahsum
20th October 2011, 05:16 PM
He's an honorary cavalier.
lol....:badgrin:.....its easy to look out for every little stumble etc and get paranoid.....dogs have the blissful ignorance of what is in store for them & live for the moment....i'm trying to take a leaf out of his book!
http://i1101.photobucket.com/albums/g432/lopside/IMG_5688.jpg
This was him on penrhyn beach after the appointment....not bad for a dog with 80% of his spinal cord in his neck obliterated by this pesky syrinx!

Karlin
20th October 2011, 10:38 PM
What a gorgeous dog! Glad you had a good meeting at Chestergates! All of my dogs have been MRI'd there. :)

Thanks for posting a copy of the MRI–very interesting to see. You can definitely see how enlarged the ventricles are. It is interesting to see that this does not seem at all to be SM based on the Chiari malformation though, as that isn't present as far as I can see. When you talked to Clare Rusbridge or Geoff Skerritt did they give you any indication of why they thought Blue had developed syringomyelia?

With cavaliers, it is closely linked to the malformation and the skull being too small for the size of the brain–which seems in turn to be due to the fact that as others have noted, the skull & the brain do not communicate well with each other as they develop (some of the results that have come back from the cavalier fetal tissue research and which would correspond with some of the ideas put forward by researchers –for some reason, there is a mismatch by the time the puppies begin to grow). The skull malformation seems to be linked to the shorter muzzle of cavaliers and other short faced breeds–research has shown that a lot of structures get completely turned around when dogs are bred for a shorter nose (and a lot of people are beginning to feel this is one of the things that is probably going to have to go in the breed and other breeds with the same problem, to bring back any level of breed health).

Collies, of course, would not have this problem–and also would not be known for having syringomyelia. Thus I am wondering if either of these neurologists suggested a cause for Blue's SM? I know it can be caused by a severe impact, for example, or as a form of congenital spinal bifida in some breeds, but I would also guess if there is some other type of internal malformation or obstruction, it could also develop.

We are all so used to thinking of cavaliers alone, which have one particular reason for having SM, that it is easy to forget that there are many other possible causes of the condition. I wouldn't think that Blue would have SM for the same reason that cavaliers have SM, although the end result, and all the frustrating difficulties and challenges, are the same. And, the treatments would be the same I should think, which is where a lot of us have a lot of experience that I hope will continue to be helpful to you and to Blue. :flwr:

sarahsum
21st October 2011, 11:58 AM
I don't think we know why he has it. Like you say some dogs are known to have a severe head impact or whiplash type injury which causes the condition, but we cannot think of anything that happened to Blue like this, he is with us 24/7. I think given the severity of his scan results & the fact that he has coped so well, it kind of suggests that it has been developing slowly for some time, and his nervous system has compensated. He had a bad fall which led to the scan being done, but the concensus is that the SM caused the fall, and he was exhibiting scratching & yelping symptoms about a month before the fall.
I halved his frusemide from Wednesday night as suggested by Mr S, but by last night I could see he wasn't quite as bright, he was certainly wobbling again & was catching his right paw. Interestingly his left paw is the bad one, so i can assume that the damage to the nerves supplying his left paw is over & done with. When he deteriorates its his good right leg that starts to weaken, which makes gait real difficult, so the nerves must be ok as long as the pressure is kept down. I put him back on the full tablet last night & his balance has improved, and he seems a bit brighter.
Obviously without the tablets he wouldn't be here now, and its such a fine line between him being happy & the SM becoming a problem. Its a horrid condition, you seem to have a happy spell where you can almost forget there is a problem, then something crops up and bashes you over the head!

Sabby
21st October 2011, 12:06 PM
Just to say I am glad your visit to Chestergate went well. It makes you feel so much better when you talk to someone like Mr Skerritt and they are trying to answer your questions. Love the photo of Blue on the beach, he is a beautiful boy. He looks like he is having fun.

Sabby
21st October 2011, 12:20 PM
You said in your previous post

Its a horrid condition, you seem to have a happy spell where you can almost forget there is a problem, then something crops up and bashes you over the head!

Thatís how I feel. 2 out of my three Cavaliers have CM/SM. My other dog friends are very supportive but nobody knows what it is really like. At the moment everything is fine, my Harley has stopped limping for nearly 2 month now and he is his bright playful usual self and he isnít on any pain relief only on Zitac. But itís like sitting on a time bomb. I wish I could put it to the back of my mind but I canít. I let them run and enjoy life because thatís what dogs should do and I just deal with it when something else happens. But like you said you are just always ready for something else to bash you over the head.

sarahsum
21st October 2011, 01:29 PM
Thatís how I feel. 2 out of my three Cavaliers have CM/SM. My other dog friends are very supportive but nobody knows what it is really like. At the moment everything is fine, my Harley has stopped limping for nearly 2 month now and he is his bright playful usual self and he isnít on any pain relief only on Zitac. But itís like sitting on a time bomb. I wish I could put it to the back of my mind but I canít. I let them run and enjoy life because thatís what dogs should do and I just deal with it when something else happens. But like you said you are just always ready for something else to bash you over the head.

I agree, I'm sure some friends see videos of Blue bouncing round or see him in the flesh, and think i am being a drama queen. My close friend who has Blues brother has been fab, and she has seen him on bad days as well as good. There are people who think I should have him PTS outright....nice people eh?....but they havent said it to my face, cos I would flip.

He is enjoying his life bless him, and like you say its always at the back of my mind too. But on the other hand I am incredibly proud of him and its made us closer. :hug:

Love my Cavaliers
21st October 2011, 02:57 PM
But on the other hand I am incredibly proud of him and its made us closer. :hug:
That's exactly how I feel about Riley. She is my heart dog, the one I didn't expect to live this long so every day I get with her is a gift. I just look at her and my heart melts. I guess it's partly because I'm aware that there will come a day that her medication will stop working or the side effects of the prednisone will become too much for her and we'll have to stop the only drug that works for her. But until then, she is loving life, she is happy, and I am loving her.

sarahsum
21st October 2011, 04:15 PM
Blues having an off day today, i have just given him an extra gabapentin as the vet said i could do, so we are on three a day now, the trouble is that I am fully aware that he is going to deteriorate at some point, he has done staggeringly well to get this far, and each time he goes off his feet its like a punch to the stomach, as i think "well this could be it". And some of you guys have two or more dogs with the same condition...my heart really goes out to you, you are all so brave.

Blondiemonster
21st October 2011, 09:10 PM
Blues having an off day today, i have just given him an extra gabapentin as the vet said i could do, so we are on three a day now, the trouble is that I am fully aware that he is going to deteriorate at some point, he has done staggeringly well to get this far, and each time he goes off his feet its like a punch to the stomach, as i think "well this could be it". And some of you guys have two or more dogs with the same condition...my heart really goes out to you, you are all so brave.

Ull be surprised how many times they can and do bounce back


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

sarahsum
21st October 2011, 10:15 PM
Oh I really hope so, he seems bright in himself but his neck is very twisted tonight and his balance is off, we have a pet service at our church this weekend, where people bring their dogs, cats, rats, rabbits etc for a blessing, I hope he is well enough to go, but I am making some doggy garlic and liver treats so he is scrounging in the kitchen at the moment!

Kate H
21st October 2011, 11:14 PM
Blue's of day could have something to do with the fact that air pressure has been pretty high in the UK today - round the 1020mb level. It's forecast to drop quite a lot over the next few days, so you may find that Blue perks up again. Air pressure does seem to affect dogs with SM.

We had a pet service at my church on St Francis day, 4 October, which is our church dedication. Oliver went along in his Pets as Therapy jacket and I was 'interviewed' about him and my rescue Cavalier Aled instead of having a sermon. Hope you manage to get Blue to yours.

Kate, Oliver and Aled

sarahsum
21st October 2011, 11:24 PM
Blue's of day could have something to do with the fact that air pressure has been pretty high in the UK today - round the 1020mb level. It's forecast to drop quite a lot over the next few days, so you may find that Blue perks up again. Air pressure does seem to affect dogs with SM.

We had a pet service at my church on St Francis day, 4 October, which is our church dedication. Oliver went along in his Pets as Therapy jacket and I was 'interviewed' about him and my rescue Cavalier Aled instead of having a sermon. Hope you manage to get Blue to yours.

Kate, Oliver and Aled

You guys are GREAT!

sarahsum
22nd October 2011, 11:40 AM
Blue's of day could have something to do with the fact that air pressure has been pretty high in the UK today - round the 1020mb level. It's forecast to drop quite a lot over the next few days, so you may find that Blue perks up again. Air pressure does seem to affect dogs with SM.
Kate, Oliver and Aled

Well like you say, the air pressure has dropped, he managed to eat his breakfast without choking, his neck is straighter, his balance is back.....and i suddenly feel a lot happier....new iphone app installed to monitor air pressure so I don't spend another day caterwauling when he goes wobbly again! :o But what a flipping b***er when even the air pressure is against our dogs!!

Love my Cavaliers
22nd October 2011, 04:21 PM
Which iphone app did you get? I'm thinking of getting it to monitor changes in Riley. Yesterday she was walking sideways and had trouble getting up the one step into the house and all this talk about the barometric pressure has me wondering if it's affecting her.

sarahsum
22nd October 2011, 06:53 PM
My friend gets migraines and she said last night it was a horrendous migraine cos of the pressure. I have one called weather board, and another one that was on my iPad, I think it's weather HD. They don't forecast they just measure. But you can go online and get a forecast of air pressure. He's a little better tonight but it will probably take him several days to recover.

Kate H
23rd October 2011, 05:28 PM
If Blue does get affected by air pressure, it would be worth asking your vet or Chestergates if you could give him an extra gabapentin on those days, or keep some metacam in the cupboard for an emergency boost. They may not stop his wobbles but should help his pain and discomfort. Though he may be less affected as he gets more used to his medication.

I suppose it's not really surprising that air pressure affects dogs, when you think the dilated ventricles are pushing the skull outwards and then the air pressure starts pushing in the opposite direction from outside. It must feel rather like a very bad migraine - horribly painful, though not all SM dogs are affected so badly.

Kate, Oliver and Aled

sarahsum
23rd October 2011, 07:32 PM
i gave him an extra gabapentin anyway...my vet had said i could increase to three, and the sight of him hanging his head made me give him the extra dose. We had a pet service at our church today & he managed to go, its a lovely service. He's not as good as he was, but considering the width & extent of his syrinx he is amazing to be able to walk. He is happy enough, he has just been attacking the hoover!

Karlin
23rd October 2011, 09:41 PM
3 times a day would be pretty normal for gabapentin, so I wouldn't feel too concerned at adding a 3rd dose if you are only doing two as the norm. It's probably useful to just keep in the back of your mind that it often is not enough to give it only twice a day, because it tends to begin to wear off at around 8 hours for most dogs (But not all). But it might be something you want to ask about at Chestergates at some future point, if you are consistently seeing occasional discomfort in Blue. Also, you may find that you end up needing to increase the dose he is on. It is really hard to know if that might happen, given that he doesn't have syringomyelia that is associated with the Chiari-like malformation. Recent research in cavaliers has indicated that the malformation can progress, as well as syringomyelia itself, but if there aren't the problems associated with the malformation, then I guess a lot more would be unknown (in a condition where already, so much remains unknown! One of the best known human specialists in this condition said that he still saw the condition as a complete enigma even after dedicating his life to understanding it better). I think it is hard to know whether some dogs need to increase their dose of gabapentin (just as some people do with the condition) because the condition is progressing, or because the effect of the drug begins to wear off. But a lot of us have found that we have had to increase dosage over time, and that we also need to go from 2 to 3 times a day.

Shifts in pressure definitely can affect dogs with this condition–Leo tends to be more uncomfortable when the weather is turning more stormy, but he also had a very hard time during a period when there was really good weather and we were over visiting in the UK. I usually give him something extra at those times.

sarahsum
23rd October 2011, 10:04 PM
Unfortunately his scan didn't cover his brain properly, Mr Skerritt thinks his middle ear might be affected too. Maybe that is affecting his balance. That seems to be his trouble at the moment, especially in the evening, his back legs seem quite wobbly when in the past they have been strong. He can still jump on the settee though and chase down the garden when it suits him!
I have taken the decision not to have surgery on him. He has such a severe syrinx that I think the stress of surgery and the separation from us is just not worth it. He has fought so hard and well and bravely that I don't want to put him through more of an ordeal for an uncertain outcome.
Tonight he has had roast beef etc and pancakes for pudding.....and now he is lay across my feet. He loves me so much and the feeling is mutual, I feel lucky to have him. X

Sabby
24th October 2011, 12:03 AM
Unfortunately his scan didn't cover his brain properly, Mr Skerritt thinks his middle ear might be affected too. Maybe that is affecting his balance. That seems to be his trouble at the moment, especially in the evening, his back legs seem quite wobbly when in the past they have been strong. He can still jump on the settee though and chase down the garden when it suits him!
I have taken the decision not to have surgery on him. He has such a severe syrinx that I think the stress of surgery and the separation from us is just not worth it. He has fought so hard and well and bravely that I don't want to put him through more of an ordeal for an uncertain outcome.
Tonight he has had roast beef etc and pancakes for pudding.....and now he is lay across my feet. He loves me so much and the feeling is mutual, I feel lucky to have him. X

I think everybody on this Forum can tell how much you love Blue. I know how you feel; I feel the same about my Harley. He is my world.