Laci probably has SM
First, thank you so much for all the information in this forum. Laci is a 2.5 y/o Blenheim (gorgeous!) who came home to us in February. She was bred by a breeder in the US and sold to another breeder for breeding purposes but never had a litter. In December she had an issue and had to be spayed. In February I made a cold call to the breeder asking for an adult female. The breeder was not actively trying to get rid of Laci. She showed me puppies but it was love at first sight with Laci. She also had her examined by her vet and gave me a 2 year health gurantee. I may be naive but I don't believe the breeder knew she had any issues.
Looking back, Laci probably showed symptoms from day one but I didn't recognize it. She has always been a head rubber/scratcher. She never liked to be pet on her head, cringed when we tried to put the leash on her and never wanted to be picked up. About 2 weeks ago she started yelping. First when I tried to pick her up. Another time when I rubbed her sides and the episode that sent me racing to the vet (I rubbed her tummy). Thinking back there were other episodes that were vocalized (but not as bad) and other times when she didn't vocalize but I now know she was probably in pain. She also cringes for no reason. I used to think she was so timid that she scared herself. Now I think it was probably pain.
My vet has her on medication (since last Friday) and she is doing much better (although she did run off today when she was outside for potty--she has never done that so I'll have to be more careful now that she is better).
The big thing I can see about her getting better is in her eyes. I didn't know it but her eyes have been horribly blood-shot. I didn't think she even had whites of her eyes but I can see them now and her iris is actually a beautiful medium brown--I can see the pupil now. Does anyone else notice bloodshot eyes during bad times? Should I rely on that as an indicator that she may be having trouble? I want to catch it before she vocalizes.
Next--as I mentioned I have only had her since February and have never owned a Cavalier (haven't had a dog in over 20 years). I was very surprised at the amount she sheds. Has anyone noticed their baby sheds more when they are in pain? She doesn't have bald spots but when I brush (every other day at least) I pull out 4-5 huge brushes full of hair. She tolerates grooming very well.
Little background on her diagnosis and treatment...I did not get the MRI and my vet recommended against surgery. She is on Dermamaxx. I do not have insurance but I don't think plans in the US cover SM. I notified the breeder I bought her from and the breeder who bred her. They are both very ethical and reputable. The lady I bought Laci from offered me a new dog but I don't want Laci to have to share us--especially now. My vet suspects Laci only started showing symptoms after she came home because she had a lot more freedom to move around.
So--any thoughts would be greatly appreciated and thank you again. The night she had her worst yelping episode, I googled "sensitive arm pits cavaliers" and found this thread. I probably wouldn't have known about SM until she got much worse. I thank you all and Laci thanks you.
So sorry for what you're going through right now. It's unfortunately all too familiar for so many of us. I'm not an expert here nor do I use the forum that often, but if you're on Facebook, there's a great group for owners of SM dogs for support/resources/etc. Please PM me (wasn't able to PM you since you're new here I think?). I'd be happy to give you my email as well.
I know that many dogs (including mine) take gabapentin for the SM along with CSF reducer and live close to normal lives for years. Never heard of Dermamaxx, though. Some pet insurance plans DO cover hereditary conditions like SM but not if the condition(s) are pre-existing. You would have needed to have the insurance from the get-go.
Have you seen a neurologist? I would highly recommend that if you haven't seen one already. They can do a clinical exam and one who is familiar with CM/SM can make a pretty good recommendation even without the MRI in many cases and maybe even do a trial of gabapentin following Dr. Clare Rusbridge's treatment algorithm.
It pains me almost to tears to hear about Laci's pain and cringing and yelping. I don't frequent the forum often because it's very emotional for me, but I saw that no one replied here and I wanted you to know that you're not alone. Please reach out to me.....
So sorry that you've joined us under such bad circumstances. A lot of us on here have dogs with SM, so any questions just shout out. The support I've had on here has been wonderful.
Mine both cast like crazy anyway, I don't see an increase with regards to bad days. Misty's eyes used to go very pink when she was having a bad day. Now she is on correct meds that work for her I haven't seen this anymore.
It's easy to look back and kick yourself for missing the symptoms. Don't dwell on it, I missed Misty's and then had suspicions that a vet dismissed. SM symptoms can easily be something else too, which is why it's so mis-diagnosed. It's normally when you start linking the behaviour together that SM becomes apparent.
I've never heard of the drug she's been prescribed myself. We are under the care of a neurologist with Misty and we're waiting for an appointment for Murphy too. I'd recommend a consultation, even if you cannot afford an MRI.
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Thank you Paula and Diane! I appeciate the help. Paula--I am new here and don't have PM access (at least I don't think I do). I am on Facebook as Christina Bohn Moore
I plan to ask my vet at the 1 month check up about gabapentin. She is on "Celebrex for dogs" right now. It is working but I want to make sure my vet is familiar with Dr. Rusbridge's treatment protocol in case we need to swtich.
I have been in contact with a neurologist in my city. I told him about Laci and her symtoms and that the breeders don't think she has SM. He was very kind and said "your dog most likely has SM. You could spend $1,800 to prove them wrong. [insert smiley face]" I will not hesitate to see him if/when things progress.
I have a video that I would like to post that shows Laci rubbing, scratching, stretching. I showed it to the breeders and they both said it didn't look like SM. I would love to get this group's feedback. Does anyone know of a place to post a video?
Thanks again everyone.
I've posted a video of the pooches playing straight from my phone before, but I can't for the life of me remember how icon_blshing
Hi, I've messaged you on FB and you're welcome to post the video on the FB group I told you about. To put the vid here, you'd have to upload it on YouTube or another site so you can paste the URL into the box. There's a little icon in the toolbar that looks like film and the box to paste the URL is there.
Originally Posted by Lacibaby
Welcome to Cavalier Talk, I'm sorry it's taken a few days for us to pick up on your post. You wrote: 'I don't believe the breeder knew she had any issues'. The problem is that many, many Cavalier owners, experienced breeders among them, simply don't recognise many signs of pain - you only get to know them when you are living with a dog that you know has SM. Almost everything you say about Laci would say SM to me - for years we said 'Isn't it cute the way Cavaliers rub their faces against the furniture', but now we know it is a sign of discomfort - other breeds simply don't do it. My Oliver had unrecognised symptoms right from the time I had him at a year old, including dark red 'whites' to his eyes that got lighter and clearer once he was diagnosed at age 6 and put on gabapentin. Perhaps it's the same as a human with a splitting headache getting bloodshot eyes. Oliver's now 11 years old and still doing well.
I'm afraid more or less continuous heavy moulting is pretty normal for Cavaliers - you'll find a lot of threads here with suggestions for the best kind of brushes etc. to cope!
Do keep us posted on how Laci gets on - and tell your vet about Clare Rusbridge's website!
Kate, Oliver and Aled
PS Diane, how's your girl getting on?
I'm so sorry you are having problems with Laci. Yes, sometimes dogs do get bloodshot eyes with this condition and they can look quite tired and worn, too. I don't think the hair has anything to do with it though -- some cavaliers shed a lot and many would produce quite a bit of hair daily especially.
It is easy to post a video -- just upload it to a site like YouTube or Photobucket, then you can link to it using the little icon that looks like a bit of film in the 'reply' box that opens when you post a reply on a thread (second to last on the right of the row of icons at the top, next to the quotation icon). This will bring up a box and you just follow the directions and put in the link to your video. :thmbsup:
It can be a good idea to get a neurologist's input even if you are not getting an MRI, because vets are not very familiar with the SM meds for dogs and often they do not have the skill to adjust them around and try for the correct cocktail or know what to try. Also I'd do more research on surgery before accepting your vet's opinion -- there are a lot of dogs that are alive that would not have been on medications alone. The condition does tend to progress to some degree but it is hard to predict the degree. Over time, the cost for meds generally is greater than surgery as I have discovered myself. I have been lucky in having a dog that has been managed well on meds alone since symptoms began around age 2 (he had an MRI at 15 months so I already knew he had a syrinx). He shortly turns 9. I still would not be able to say with any confidence that meds were the right choice as opposed to surgery. These are all difficult options with little ability to predict future outcomes. But mortality is higher in dogs treated with meds alone according to a study by Clare Rusbridge. Most vets are pretty uninformed about the condition and treatments simply because it is s specialist condition -- and I've been told some things from vets that are entirely wrong. They have a lot of mistaken beliefs about it! As someone who attended one of the major US vet conferences a while back noted, the session on SM in cavaliers given by a well known neurologist was very poorly attended. :x
I'd let the breeders know you spoke to a neurologist who on the basis of symptoms believes your dog has SM. The line about them being pretty sure the dog couldn't have SM and that they never noticed symptoms is sadly pretty common; sometimes they truly did not notice, but a lot simply do not want to believe the figures on how common this condition is and that they now have produced it themselves. Also often breeders keep a lot of dogs, sometimes off in dog kennels or dog rooms, and don't notice symptoms that stand out a lot more when dogs are on their own. But sometimes they would really have had to be blind to have missed them unless the dogs in reality spent most of their time out of sight :( .
I, too am sorry that you're concerned about Laci. One of my dogs has SM but it took years until she was diagnosed properly. I opted for surgery for her as meds made no difference in her condition pre-operatively. Her surgery was over four years ago and I truly don't think she would be alive today if she hadn't had surgery. She is like a new dog. Still "broken" like my daughter's boyfriend likes to call her, but she has a good quality of life. She runs in the yard, loves walks, and loves snuggles. She can't jump worth beans so i bought steps for her to get up on furniture and beds, she doesn't play with my other dogs, she has terrible balance and sometimes even one step up into the house seems like a mountain to her. But she is sweet and lovable and surgery was the right decision for her. She is still on daily prednisone and probably will be for the rest of her life. I'll take all the negative side effects for the new lease on life it's given her.
This is just one story. There are many more of dogs who are controlled on meds alone. We're here for you - for the ups and downs, the stresses and the really bad days. I've had days when I've just had to post on here "I HATE SM" and I know that everyone will understand and support me. Please try to see a neurologist. It will make you feel better and hopefully make Laci feel better also!
Thank you so much everyone. Here is my video. I would appreciate all comments. I think I mentioned in my previous posts that both breeders saw the video and said they didn't see SM so I'm hopeful. If not SM, what do you think my next move should be? We had a yelping incident this afternoon but it wasn't bad (compared to the previous ones). I was petting her and she moved one way, I moved the other so bumped her and she yelped and ran. She was ok within a minute or two.
Thanks again everyone.