Seconding what Karlin said about MRIs, I was talking to a neurologist recently, as Oliver is slowly getting more symptoms of his CM/SM, about the need to have a full MRI (so far he's only had two mini scans) to find out what is going on. She said that though it would be interesting to see how his syrinx and dilated ventricles had developed, it wasn't essential, and I would do better to keep my money to spend on medication for him. Unless surgery is an option, whatever a scan says, you can still really only treat the symptoms you and your vet (and above all, a neurologist) can see. Finding the right medication is almost always a matter of trial and error for a few months, and then adjustment from time to time, but when the right combination is found for your dog, more or less normal life should be able to be resumed!
Kate, Oliver and Aled
One of my dogs was diagnosed in July with SM and the other with CM, both being symptomatic. It’s amazing how much I learned in this little time. It’s like doing a crash course in SM/CM. I am very lucky that my new vet is informed about SM and whatever he doesn’t know he is willing to listen to me and whatever I have learned on this Forum. I think my vet was amazed on how much I knew about SM. Not all vets are that accommodating and some like to dig their heels in not willing to listen to their clients.
I must agree with Karlin, if people can’t afford to do an MRI scan and have the dog examined by a Neurologist and it is clear that the dog might have SM then why not try pain relief as the most important thing is to make the dog comfortable and living without pain.
Not sure if I should just ask this here or make another thread in the Training area, however - we were at the vets today just for a little update and to book her in officially for her spay in 2 weeks time. And my vet remembered that I ran agility with my Izzie.
What are your views on continuing this with the likely SM? He said that he would be cautious of her hurting herself/spine and wasn't sure if I should continue purely because he hadn't seen a Cavalier with SM who competes in agility and didn't want to say it was fine when it wasn't.
She is never uncomfortable running her courses, and I've always said it's her training which keeps her so healthy and she thoroughly enjoys it. I never train her if it's too wet or push her very hard anyway, and I especially wouldn't now. I was almost quite upset as I felt like well, it's SM and awful, but I don't want her or me to be defeatist and give into it and let it affect her daily life. What is everyone's opinion?
I think it's a balance and I know Dr Rusbridge thinks this way. You do not want to lower your cavalier's quality of life if agility is something she really loves -- but at the same time, there are risks, the main one being that accelerated activity increases the pressure of the CSF which in turn may worsen the SM at a faster rate. If she isn't showing any pain and really enjoys the activity I'd probably continue with the agility but personally, I wouldn't compete and I'd do milder runs. I think one hard ting to judge is whether they are in pain or not. I think a lot of time they just go ahead and do an activity right through the pain, in part because it is a pattern and activity they know, in part because they enjoy it an in part because they are doing what we expect of them -- performing as we have trained them. I think that makes it very hard to judge pain unless a dog gets to the state of severe or disabling pain/discomfort. I know with my own Jaspar, one time playing fetch when young he had a head on collision into another of my dogs and was clearly concussed and staggering yet he kept staggering after the ball and it was almost impossible to make him stop!
Originally Posted by Autaven
I know just how you feel. My Harley lives for agility; somebody even said once that he smiles all the way around the course. He started limping this summer and we thought it was an agility injury after all the Xrays and tests that didn’t show anything he had an MRI and it showed mild SM. He was limping constantly for about a month and suddenly one day it just disappeared. I only started competing with him last year and he was doing very well. Even after the limping stopped I didn’t do any agility for 3 month, we also do Rally Obedience and he does love it but I could see he was sitting on the sofa being unhappy, even my husband picked up on it and he normally doesn’t notice anything. I talked to my Agility Instructor and she goes out of her way to plan in a special course for Harley, definitely no A Frame and weaves. He does a low dog walk, tunnels, seesaw and low jumps. When I took him back for the first time he pulled me all the way to the hall and he barked all the way around the course he was so happy to be back. I only do agility with him once a week instead 2-3 times a week now and in summer I will sit out some rounds. I never competed with the KC as the jumps were too high for him anyway but I compete with the BAA and I have written to the person in charge and she will let Harley jump on the lowest jumps and I will only run him once instead of the 3-4 times I ran him before, and only do the jumping and tunnels. So he still does a little of what he loves.
Just to say that first I was completly against doing agility as I don't want to make it worse, but he was sitting at home unhappy, maybe some people won't understand this but he lives for working. Harley is not like my other two happy with walks, he doesn't even enjoy sniffing and walking he only comes alive when he can work. Even after coming from training after he had a little rest there he is bringing me the ball to play with him. So I decided to do a little bit of what he loves so much.
Also I know every dog is different and Karlin is right in saying that they do anything to please us even when in pain. With my Harley I knew straight away something was wrong as he never refuses anything but when it all started he refused to do the A Frame and went round it, not like him at all and I knew straight away something wasn’t right. (that was before the limping started) Also I can tell when he slows down.
Thought I would just bring up this thread rather than starting a new one since all Izzie's information is here :)
We were back at the vets today for a little check over and we needed more Metacam. It wasn't her usual vet we saw so I was a bit iffy but she asked how she was getting on and I reported that her yelping for no reason has stopped and so has her biting her back end since going on the metacam - however she's still itching. It's not constantly, but it's enough that we notice it. (but of course we notice every itch any of the Cavaliers make).
She checked her ears for infection, her heart and her anal glands again and said everything looked fine so it was upto myself - keep her on Metacam and see how it goes or give her a 2 week trial of Gabapentin. I said that latter, purely because if she's still experiencing pain then I'd rather sort it sooner than later.
Now that I'm home I'm just wondering if there is any major side effects or anything that I need to look out for, and if this was the right decision? She did tell me all about it and about how she might be drousy etc. Thing is she still goes to agility (well we've cut down majorly on her training, and she only does competitions every other weekend as I really don't want to strain her, though she loves it so much) - am I still okay to go with her now that's she's on this or am I better leaving her a while to see how it goes? I'm reading all of the websites on here which are brilliant for information I just wondered if someone could tell me their personal experiences or have anymore info. My appointment in 2 weeks is with my normal vet so I'll discuss all of this with him too.
Thanks everyone :)
There are very few side effects to watch for -- drowsiness being the main one but generally it passes off after a couple of weeks if the dose is right. Your vet may well start you on a low dose and often this isn't adequate so see how things go and if little change, you probably need a higher dose. She should be fine for agility. If anything -- a lot more comfortable. While I wouldn't do really intensive agility with an SM dog who has a lot of symptoms, I know Clare Rusbridge feels that there is no point in depriving a dog of what it enjoys. Leo has never stopped running around and chasing Jaspar when we go to the park and he has lived with gabapentin for almost 8 years now. :)
Thanks that's certainly made me relax! She's been put on 50mg twice a day, and we're back in 2 weeks to see how it goes :)
I don't think you need to worry. :) That's a low dose unless she is really tiny -- even my little Leo who is only about 15.5 lbs began on the recommended dose for his weight of 75mg twice daily. He really needed 100mg twice daily, eventually 3x and now gets 200mg 3x. But he is pretty comfortable on that -- mild scratching and occasional sensitivity on his side/neck in poor weather. That's over 8-ish years of being on gabapentin so he's been pretty well managed on it. You may find that low level works or may find you need to try a larger dose than that. I doubt she will be drowsy on such a tiny amount. Leo has never been drowsy on gabapentin.
Thanks. She's a little bit petite to be fair - she's 6kg (13.2lb?) :) But that's great, really glad to hear that I don't need to worry about long term use if it helps her. Such a relief! xo