Should I be concerned?
Bella is just going on 4 months old, and has so far been a happy and healthy puppy. But over the past week we've noticed a couple weird things. It's actually since she got her 2nd set of vaccinations a little over a week ago.
She was fine when she got her shots, and didn't seem have any adverse reactions, but later in the evening when I had her outside, I went to pick her up and rubbed her back, and she literally yelped in pain. Even the following day she seemed a bit tender between the shoulder blades. I figured it was obviously just some tenderness/inflammation from the vaccination, and she's been okay since.
When she's outside running around, her rear (right) back leg seems to want to scratch her neck, but never really makes contact, and she kinda hops.. then it goes away and she runs normally. It comes and goes. Now, it's important to mention that we just started her wearing a collar. I figured she's just cognizant of something being around her neck, and it's like an involuntary reaction to that.
The third oddity, and probably the most disconcerting.. and I'm not even sure I can explain this properly... is she's starting to do these jerky head/upper body movements. DH and I have been calling it "The Kramer" (if you've ever seen the TV show Seinfeld), where the character Kramer walks into a room and jerks his head/shoulders back kind of like a chicken, 4 or 5 times in a row in a quick jerky motion. She'll do this when she's sitting straight focusing on something, or if you start talking to her and she turns her attention to you, she does The Kramer. She doesn't seem to be in any discomfort, it's just an involuntary little 'thing' that she does.
We were sitting there tonight, discussing why she does that, and what it could be, and I noted that she's only been doing it since she had her last set of shots (last week). So, being the obsessive nut that I am, started Googling on neurological reactions to vaccines.
What I ended up stumbling on was this page http://sm.cavaliertalk.com/ and have just spent the last hour reading through it. I’m overwhelmed, and a little bit scared.
In the back of my mind I knew about SM as being a breed-specific health issue, as I read about it while I was researching the breed, but as we've only had her for about a month, and she's been so happy/healthy, I really haven't delved too much into it.
I really don't want to be neurotic and start freaking out, and a lot of what she's doing could very well be just normal dorky puppy behaviour. But, when you put everything together, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little bit concerned.
We have very good vet, and Bella has had 2 visits with her (one post-purchase checkup, and the 2nd shots with fecal exam), and has given her a thorough checks (with special attention to the heart and knees) and both time she’s declared her perfectly healthy.
The breeder we got her from offers a 2 year health guarantee, but I already know in my heart that if anything is wrong with her, we are going to take care of her no matter what it takes. I’m not giving her back for anything. But, if (God forbid) there is something wrong, I’d rather address it now.
So, does what I’ve mentioned warrant a vet visit, do you think? Am I being neurotic?
Any thoughts/advice would be greatly appreciated!
I think the shaking and the other things warrant a vet visit if they continue beyond a week. It is normal for a dog to be tender after shots and a little under the weather because the purpose of a vax is to slightly stress the immune system and cause it to produce antibodies to the things it was vaxed for.
The bunny hop gait can be a subject of concern or may just be her annoyance with the collar and a bit of puppy uncoordination. If this continues you'd want to consider two things: the potnetial for SM as the 'air scratching' is a very distinctive element of that, or the possibility of episodic falling syndrome, which tends to show up at around 4 months onwards and can also involve a bunny hop gait. There's info in episodic falling syndrome as well in the Health library.
In general it is too easy to become overly concerned at what a puppy is doing because they are not that well coordinated, they do often have short term reactions to a vax, they tend to scratch at a new collar. It will drive you crazy to read symptoms of any illness -- basically you need to watch and see whether things go away or remain the same, or progress.
Some others have experienced head shaking that eventually goes away -- Rory's mom, who is a vet student, has written about that before and might see this and comment.
If tremors, an odd gait and any tenderness continue then print out the relevant sheets on SM (that's my site) and take them to your vet -- this is a good idea anyway as most will not know much if anything about SM or realise the prevalance in the breed. The puppy would need to be checked by a neurologist in order to ascertain if anything like SM is an issue, though as a vet will not have the diagnostic ability to confirm it. You wouldn;t want to see a neuro unless you really see ongoing symptoms of concern.
I'd consider doing two things: start to keep a diary of the times when you see the things that concern you and she is doing; and see if you can video any of the behaviours; even just a mobile phone video is helpful to a vet or neurologist as it can be hard to get a dog to repeat the behaviour in a vet's office.
A good breeder will also advise. I'd talk to your breeder about these concerns too.If the pup is diagnosed with any sort of problem, then you'd definitely want to inform the breeder as it would affect their breeding programme.
Most likely there's no problem at all and these things will go away. :thmbsup:
Thanks so much for the reply, Karlin.
Now that I know what to watch for, I'll keep a closer eye and definitely keep a journal. I'm also going to take her collar off for a couple days and see if she still bunnyhops without it (I'd have thought of that last night if I didn't have myself so worked up, lol)
I'll also do some more reading from the Health library. I knew the SM site was yours as soon as I saw the hallmark cavalier logo in the top corner that I've come to love :)
Oakley was much the same after his 2nd vaccination - i think they use a bigger needle or its in the same place as the 1st where there is probably scar tissue.
He also does a bit of a bunny hop - he's trying to scratch his collar as well as run about and check out things. If you take the collar off you'll see the difference. Bear in mind that it takes time to get used to wearing a collar.... Oakley has been wearing his since he came to us and he still gets annoyed with it.
Still, if you are still concerned then a trip to the vet can cause no harm.
Try not to worry too much its probably just puppy un coordination. :flwr:
Thanks Kirsty :flwr:
I think I'm probably being a little neurotic, it's just all so scary. We don't want our babies to be in pain.
We'll be going back to the vet for the rabies shot soon, so I'll discuss all this with her....