View Full Version : Sm ???

24th January 2012, 01:10 AM
I have been reading and watching threads on SM. for a few weeks now and have been to the vet who told me best to contact Glasgow vet hospital to discuss. They then told me I need to go through vet.

I haven't got back yet as I now don't know what to think.
Female Cav Cara now 5 but has been scratching her right leg using her back right leg. Only does this when excited and at the start of her walk.has been
like this probably since 6 month old and has never got any more regular.
ocassionslly rubs her face on carpet after dry food but only lasts 10 seconds.
never in pain.
Now don't know what to think as a lot of comments seem to state this is not unnatural for a dog
any advice would be great.

24th January 2012, 01:37 AM
Sorry I can't help on the actual symptoms or what is best you should do - just wanted to mention the Glasgow Vet School. Going through the processes of thinking my Cavalier has SM just now and I done my own bit of research into neurologists and Glasgow are closest to me. It seems they've set up a scheme to research SM, MRIs are £200 per dog but don't include a neurologist review, they simply send your results back to your vets and they go over it with you?

I found all this out and I'm heading back to my vet on Thursday - are you aware of them doing it for reasons other than for breeders, as their site doesn't seem to mention getting a scan for anything other than breeding prospects, rather than for treatment like I'm looking for as well. Maybe this is why we need to go through the vets instead? All very confusing!
Sorry, that was totally random and I hope someone comes along to answer your questions soon.

Karen and Ruby
24th January 2012, 09:20 AM
You will need to get a referral from your vets to be seen by a Neuro. I had to push my vet for this. The scans you mention are under the low cost breeding scheme and are for breeders to use to get their dogs graded under the SM/CM BVA KC scheme.
To get a diagnostic scan for medical purposes will cost upward of £1200 normally but would include a full examination by the Neuro and life long care and support where needed.

Hope this helps x

murphy's mum
24th January 2012, 10:44 AM
JimDoc the symptoms you are describing are exactly the same as out Misty's were before we took her to Glasgow. Misty turned six at the end of last year, and we'd noticed her odd behaviour for a while, but our old vets kept shrugging our concerns off. I also kept noticing her lower eyelids drooping a little, and her eyeballs going pinkish. She would groan a little while rubbing her head too, and in the mornings she would come to me and mash her head into my head. I used to sit and rub her head for her.

We changed vets in September, and after a 20 minute consultation, we got our referral to Glasgow. Misty has very poor reactions in her hind feet. If you flip them over backwards, she takes longer that normal to right them. The vet said this was a sign of back trouble or a symptom of SM.

On the day of our appointment, we were met by some Med students, who made a huge fuss over Misty, and took a thorough history from her. We then met our Neuro, who examined her, and after talking to us agreed SM could be the cause. We had to leave her overnight, as there was a couple of emergency cases brought in before us. We collected her the next day, and we were taken through the blood tests, her general health, and of course her MRI results. It confirmed she has SM. She has three syrinxes that run nearly the full length of her spin, and they are all quite wide. Allison, our Neuro, was shocked at how mild her clinical symptoms were after reviewing her MRI. We came home with Gabapentin, and a bill for £1,600. We had to pay the £190, for the consultation direct to Glasgow, but they claimed direct off Axa for the rest, and we put in a claim for the £190. In the end we were only out of pocket £75 for our excess.

I cannot tell you what to do, but I followed my gut instinct, which told me I had to get her MRI'd.

24th January 2012, 12:02 PM
Hi Jim Doc

Any vet should know that you will need a referral from the vet to see a neurologist. Did you disgust you fears about SM with your vet? A lot of vets are still not very well informed about SM. I have always been very lucky with my vets in regards them knowing about SM and they didnít hesitate to refer me. (Also had the scan done at my vets)

IMPORTANT Please donít assume that Cara is NOT in pain or discomfort. A lot of people make this mistake thinking that if the dog doesnít cry or yelp it isnít in pain. If these symptoms are SM she will be in some sort of pain or discomfort and will need appropriate pain relief.

Kate H
24th January 2012, 03:07 PM
Ideally, if you can afford it or are insured, a full MRI is what you need. If that isn't possible, a mini scan will at least tell you whether SM is present, you can then discuss it with your vet, and you could also pay a bit more for a session with a neurologist (it will still come to less than a full scan!). I don't think you have to be a breeder to get a mini scan at Glasgow, just a referral from your vet. My Oliver has never had a full scan, just two mini scans two years apart that diagnosed him with CM/SM, and a later session with a neurologist to discuss treatment. Since then we have simply tweaked his medication according to his need.

Kate, Oliver and Aled

PS I would agree with Sabby about pain - Oliver has never yelped. His early signs were squinting in strong sunlight and being a restless sleeper - neither things that many people (including me for a long time!) would recognise as symptoms of pain.

24th January 2012, 04:22 PM
I echo the above. My Molly has sm and Dougall cm. Molly on the odd occassion yelped, we investigated because she became lame, I did not think for a minute she was suffering acute nerve pain. I decided to MRI Dougall because I needed to know if he had cm/sm, in my opinion Dougall did not display any signs, we assumed he was a quiet dog. He was diagnosed with cm Both dogs were suffering and at best would have a constant headache, I felt terribly guilty as you can imagine.
We now have another little rescue dog, I believe she has either sm or cm.

I have asked for a referral to a neurologist for a clinical examination, based on this I am sure we can treat her for pain quickly. I don't know if we will have an mri at this stage because she has heart issues. Unfortunately for Cavaliers they do not display pain and sadly there are a lot of them suffering.

24th January 2012, 11:41 PM
Hi all,
thanks for advice on previous post.
i am still a bit in between as Cara jumps on to our bed and doesn't move all night.
some people say they wouldn't have an MRI. On their dog but don't know why.
as I said before Cara has infrequent scratching spells for a few seconds.
another question.
if I do nothing does anyone know the consequences. Or should I wait till I see or hear that she has pain.
can. I go to the Glasgow vet hospital for a consultation only.?

25th January 2012, 12:09 AM
Like I said if this is SM then she is already in pain, just alone the scratching and head rubbing indicates that she is in pain. What do you mean with consequences ? The consequense is that your dog lives in constant pain.
I am sure that if you are not insured that the neurolagist will just see you for a consultation.

25th January 2012, 03:42 AM
Scratching and face rubbing are all signs of discomfort. Dogs with SM really learn to disguise there pain. They are in a chronic pain that they just learn to "deal" with. I would at least have your dog checked out my a Neurologist. A consult with a neurologist should not be too expensive. They can tell you if you need an MRI done or not. Regular vets typically overlook the symptoms. I have 3 affected dogs and I can tell you... If they are suffering the difference can be night and day. Once my dogs were started on medication they were totally different. They had a new life to them almost acting like puppies again. It's hard to tell how much your dog has "changed" due to pain until you see them completely pain free.

murphy's mum
25th January 2012, 09:58 AM
Glasgow will see you for just a consultation, like I said it was around £190 for our consult.

I can only echo whats already been said, please do not assume she isn't in pain. The scratching at the back of the leg is was Misty does, just a few minutes, she doesn't scream or anything. She mostly does it when excited, but like I said her MRI showed most of her spin is affected. I still kick myself for not pushing to get her an MRI sooner.

25th January 2012, 09:29 PM
Female Cav Cara now 5 but has been scratching her right leg using her back right leg. Only does this when excited and at the start of her walk.has been
like this probably since 6 month old and has never got any more regular.
ocassionslly rubs her face on carpet after dry food but only lasts 10 seconds.
never in pain.
Now don't know what to think as a lot of comments seem to state this is not unnatural for a dog
any advice would be great.

Of course dogs do scratch sometimes and rub their faces, with SM/CM these behaviours are more frequent and more intense.

If she is only face rubbing after a meal then that to me IN ISOLATION would not be a symptom.

The scratching at the start of a walk and when excited would be more indicative - pressure builds when they are excited which could aggravate symptoms.

In the wild animals have to disguise pain and hide any weakness - so this is their normal behaviour which makes it difficult for us to see pain.

Have a read through the symptoms on here http://sm.cavaliertalk.com/ and see if she is doing anything else. There is also info to print off for your vet. Yes you would need a referral from your vet to go to Glasgow, and the low cost scans are NOT for symptomatic dogs.

At the international conference on Syringomyelia in 2006 it was stated that incidences of scratching due to SM were an indicator of SEVERE pain.

My two most severely affected dogs NEVER yelped or screamed, one had his cerebellum prolapsing right through the foramen magnum [the back of the brain was pushed through the hole at the back of the skull]. His ONLY symptom at that point was intermittent lameness of one front leg. He underwent decompression surgery and was eventually PTS aged 3 :( Most of the time you would not have noticed anything wrong with him.

I think you need to rule out other causes for scratching but ALL cavalier guardians need to be aware of their health issues, so they are prepared and aware BUT we also need to enjoy our dogs and not become so obsessed that it spoils every day.

25th January 2012, 10:12 PM
Good advice from Nicki. I would definitely go talk to Glasgow for a clinical exam if your vet cannot find anything but you remain concerned (the excitement/exercise/scratching correlation is very typical of SM -- I have a dog that has done this all her life, never gotten much worse, but I monitor her carefully). A neurologist can do a far better assessment even just in a clinical setting than a vet.

25th January 2012, 11:31 PM
Thanks to all who contributed.

On the case for a consultation with a neurologist.

Will update sometime.

Thanks again

26th January 2012, 12:31 AM
Let us know how things go. :)

26th January 2012, 09:07 PM
I've recently been in very similar situation as you JimDoc so my experience may help. I have a female blenheim aged 4yrs, Milly. I've wondered for a while about her behaviour; she has a quick head scratch and rubs her head on the carpet and sofa, then rolls on her back, but ONLY after eating her dry food. She honestly looks like she enjoys it and it lasts no longer than a minute. She has always done this and it's never got worse or obsessive, so I think it is normal behaviour. She has never yelped or shown obvious signs of pain. She does big body shakes fairly frequently, more so on walks. She's not a keen walker, very slow, although she'll do zoomies round the garden when in the mood. The only other thing is she's becoming noticably deaf. I decided to watch and wait until a month ago when her behaviour changed. She became very quiet, wouldn't play, even more reluctant to walk, slept more, but when awake scratched and scratched her tummy with her hind legs and obsessively licked her paws - she'd never done either before. Off to vets who agreed to a Neuro referral and MRI. A week later we saw Mike Targett at Dovecote Veterinary Hospital. I have to admit, Milly had perked up and seemed a bit better by then, although was still scratching and licking a fair bit. He was lovely, spent almost an hour with us, examined her thoroughly and said he really didn't think she showed any abnormal neurological signs and that this was more likely a skin problem. He said he thought her deafness was possibly PSOM, but as she had improved, to watch and wait and not do an MRI that day. He said if we did scan her, the chances were that we would find a CM and PSOM and then be in a difficult situation as she is not symptomatic. He told me if I become concerned, I could take her back for an MRI anytime.

I am very aware that this does not mean there won't be any future problems relating to CM/SM or PSOM, but at the moment, she is back to normal, (scratching and licking only a little now) so I am happy to watch and wait.

My advice, for her sake and your peace of mind, would be to go and get her checked out, it isn't always bad news. I'm really glad I went. Now reading up about skin treatments...!

26th January 2012, 11:53 PM
Henny, I am booked to see a consultant in 2weeks. But your note has given me a great lift and more optimism, because you have described Cara to a "T". However Cara does love walking although she is a bit quieter than Lucy who is 4. Both blenheims. Lucy is always up and about but continually licks her paws and she recently has had a few ear problems.
if we had ot Lucy first and Cara 2nd I would have said Cara was not oral but Lucy is just full of energy. By the way, both live getting their neck massaged, so hope this normal for cavaliers. Anyway real positive thinking after your thread. Hope we ars still in that mode after the consultation. Both dogs are generally up and about and go to doggy day care 3 days a week mixing and socialising with many dogs on a daily basis and off up the forest on long walks and they both thrive on it. So here's hoping and will be back in touch. Bets regards Jim

28th January 2012, 09:21 AM
Sorry to come into this so late Jim, but I have been reading the posts as they have come in.

I really thought somebody else would have a similar experience with their dog to mine with Bubbles, but it seems not, so I thought I would add my experience to all the others.

I had intended to breed from Bubbles, so had her mini scanned at 2 1/2 in 2009. The only abnormality which was found was very high ear cannals, which I was told were not a problem, but as they showed up I was told about them. I showed her pictures to my vet, who asked whether she showed any symptoms of discomfort and of course I replied that there were not. Both vets were more than happy that Bubba should be bred from. She was mated 3 times without result, then I had her checked internally by a repro specialist to see if something was wrong in there. Nothing was found, so as a precaution I had a full MRI done, which was still clear, so I mated her again, also innefectually. By now she was almost five years old and with her history and that of her mother I had another chat with a repro vet. This time I took the advice that she was bad news in the whelping stakes so had her spayed.

Bubbles is another dog who face rubs. She has her own particular and very annoying version. Once she has had her dinner and a treat for not thieving from the other dogs she eats with, she waits until I am busy in the kitchen preparing my own meal, then she starts rubbing her face methodically and carefully down my right leg from knee to ankle. I have tried every way that I can think of to stop this by using verbal commands, but still she does it. I wondered about SM or something else causing the behaviour, but the vet told me he did not think so. Then a few days ago I reached saturation point, as the rubbing got quite rough and she was starting to bruise my leg, so I physically moved her every time the rubbing started, giving a finger command at the same time and telling her 'no'.

I watched to see what she would do. If the habbit is pain based then surely she would rub her face on the floor or against another dog, or against an upright object. She did not. Just glowered at me then went about her business. I am starting to think some sort of dominance is involved, but there doesn't seem to be any form of pain here, so I will continue to make it quite clear that I am in charge and not Madam Bubbles.

Shows how easy it is to worry unnecessarily, doesn't it?

28th January 2012, 10:10 PM
Flo, thanks for your input as well. Cara does face rub on carpet, settee or along the bed, but not too often.
she does scratch her front leg with her her back when she gets excited but once she is out on her walk, this does not bother her.
got an appointment with Neuroligist 15th but need to change date. Fingers crossed but I am convinced she has it, so anything else is a bonus.

22nd February 2012, 11:55 PM
Hi again.
I was at the animal hospital in Glasgow today and if nothing else we were seen by Annette who was fantastic in dealing with us. We took Cara to neurology dept after showing signs of Sm by air scratching and face rubbing. I was more concerned if she was in pain but masking it. She was taken away for about half an hour and we were advised that whilst there was signs of SM there appeared no pain present and it was very mild if at all. So great news but will continue to monitor. Also had 4 year old Lycy along with us and she was given a quick look over as well although not booked in. It seems that there may be signs of mild Chiara by a small test given by gripping the neck, but again not too worried at this stage as Lucy continually licks her paws and does a bit of body scratching, she is currently on some ant histamine tablets to eliminate some skin stuff, but at least we will monitor her as well. But got to say absolutely top class service and well worth the visit. All the staff were genuinely very caring. Thanks to all who have given the support and encouragement to get Cara checked out and would urge anyone with any concerns to go along. Cost was just over £160 which is covered in full by insurance as this visit was a carry on from vet.

23rd February 2012, 08:02 AM
Really glad that all your fears came to very little Jim. Even if you had to pay the consultation fee yourself I think you would now say it was money well spent.

Enjoy your girls.

23rd February 2012, 11:28 PM
Hi Flo,
Yeah best I could have hoped for and have been making other Cav owners aware of my experiences.

I will also be more- alert on our dogs.