I took Anne to the vet and she was checked over very carefully - no signs of allergies, fleas, mites, dry skin, or anything that would cause the scratching. I have read everything I could find on SM. Because Annie is only 7 months old it indicates the onset would be severe and rapid. I plan to see a neurologist next week. But in all the readings about surgery I can only find statistics, has anyone out there done surgery and if so how were the results? From what I read it alleviates pain but does not stop it from coming back. Is there any threads I can read about people's personal exerience with surgery? I know I will have more answers after an MRI, like whether she really has it, but I am trying to gain as much information as I can before that appointment.
Thanks, I am so glad you are all out here - support means everything.
Riley (6 years old) had decompression surgery in June of this year. I had never heard of SM before I took her to the neurologist for what I thought were seizures. He recommended an MRI that day, but felt pretty sure that she had SM based on her symptoms. Her symptoms have been so different from most of the other dogs with SM on this board. Riley never scratched, never seemed to be in pain, never seemed spooked for no reason, never nibbled at herself anywhere, never even whimpered. She was amazing. I knew she had some type of neurologic deficit from the day we got her when she was 11 months old, but the breeder said she had a very difficult birth and we attributed her quirks to oxygen deprivation at birth. She had the head tilt, weakness in her rear legs, couldn't jump as well as my others, just seemed a little floppier, and then started having what I thought were 10-15 second seizures. When they increased in frequency I took her to the neurologist, who said she had a severe and advanced case of SM and recommended decompression surgery to halt any further progress. A second opinion with a different neurologist resulted in the exact same diagnosis and treatment plan.
Her surgery was June 10 and it definitely took 3-4 months until she was back to being "normal" for herself. Her problems with balance and seizure like activities remain - although not as severe as before the surgery. But she still has the head tilt, the circling and/or continuous rolling behavior that can precipitate a seizure like event (it's really a problem with her vestibular system that was damaged when her brainstem and cerebellum were being herniated through her skull), still has the weakness in her hind legs, and nystagmus (rapid eye movements).
So, getting to your question - am I happy that I did the surgery? During the first 3-4 months, I questioned my decision every single day. I always wondered if I had shortened her life. And I cried a lot! But I'll never know the answer to that question, so I've decided that it's not worth thinking about it anymore. Like I said, she is pretty much back to the dog she was before. The only difference is fewer seizure like activities (she's on Keppra, a human anti-epileptic drug but still has some of these events). Since she never seemed to be in pain, or even scratched before her surgery, I can't answer that question about whether the pain /scratching comes back - and if it does, when does it come back. There are medications like Gabapentin that help with that. Riley's issues were so different that Gabapentin had no effect on her.
I hope this has been helpful to you. I found this board on the day she had surgery. It helped ease the passage of time while I was waiting to hear how Riley's surgery went to know there were other people who were going through similar trials with their cavaliers. Good luck to you. Let us know the results of Annie's neuro visit. Waiting is agony!!
Thank you for the repsonse. I can't imagine the agony of the three months post surgery. Riley has a very special mom and I will keep him in our prayers as the others that suffer from SM. I will let you know what the neurologist says next week.
Click on 'Search' in the brown bar, then key in 'decompression surgery' without the apostrophes, click on the radio button for 'Show Threads' and click 'Go'.
There are several of us who have had cavaliers undergo decompression surgery in the search results - pages of threads.
I forgot to say that I hope you and Annie have a good appointment with the neurologist. I'm sorry you're going through this, but glad you're taking her to a neuro. :flwr:
After a lot of research and consulting 4 neurologists, 2 of whom have done multiple decompression surgeries, we opted for medical management (combination of a very low dosage of prednisone, gabapentin and omeprisol). The 2 "experinced" neurloigsts felt that long term the dogs all fared about the same, so best not to put them thorugh the surgery as some come out for the worse.
Jack does extremely well and most days is a normal dog. He has roughly one screaming "attack" every six to eight weeks, but itches daily. Before we got him on meds, we has screamed all of the time, did not want to walk, bunny hopped, etc. I contribute this largely to acupuncture (he goes every 3 weeks) and a raw diet. He was diagnosed at 20 weeks and is 1.5 years now. The problem is it seems like every dog is different, so you just have to watch for progression and if it is rapid, surgery may be the best option. I keep a journal as I find it very helpful to determine patterns.
Annie and I want to thank all of you for the kinds words and responses. Our first attempt to address the itching, Benadryl badly failed. In fact, it appears her scratching is now more often, and more intense and now she is chasing and chewing on her tail. She had a "coughing" fit, but it really sounds strange, more like snorting than coughing and her neck gets stiff and she backs up while it is happening. So tomorrow we start introducing different medications. Her appointment with the neurologist is Wednesday in Carrolton - Dr. Ducote. She is listed on one of the links.
I am still praying it is anything but SM but the more I read and watch her the less hopeful I feel. I do intend to rule out PSOM as well.
Tomorrow night she graduates from Beginning Obedience class and has done well - she is a great obedience dog. Whatever happens it is my goal to keep her as comfortable as possible. It has been hard on my kids to lose Lacy from autoimmune disease at 6 months and now this.
I wish you all the luck @ the neurologist appt. I will say a prayer for you and your sweet baby! My Bella is 11 months old and I am constantly watching her for signs and symptoms! I hate to say that, but it seems that it happens more often than not! I am just hoping I can find a qualified neurologist in my area if we ever need one!:xfngr: Hope all goes well. Keep us posted!
Martha, what you're describing sounds like 'backwards sneezing', which is common in cavaliers and doesn't require medication. When the cavalier starts snorting, gently tilt her muzzle towards her chest so that her nose points to the ground, and the snorting should stop, as this action lifts her soft palate away from her trachea.
Originally Posted by mjones5