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.
Diazepam (Valium) would definitely make his symptoms worse and cause him to be even more unsteady on his feet.
Originally Posted by sarahsum
So glad that you are finding resources to help Blue, and that your experience in turn will help the research on SM.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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?
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
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.
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.
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!