Groomers seem to be OK (mine never go anyway!), but with them and with vets, you need to tell them to be careful around Ziggy's neck, as that can be a painful area. So no vaccinations or other injections in the back of the neck or along the spine, and at the groomers, no stringing up with a collar. If you don't already walk Ziggy on a harness, it's a good idea to get him one - again, avoiding pressure in the neck area and possible damage to the syrinx.
You can get an App of air pressure for your mobile, but not having a fancy phone, I just use the BBC online weather centre (google BBC and then click on weather, then enter your town). This gives you hourly information about the weather and has one line (at the bottom) that gives the air pressure, so that you can see how it's going to change over the course of a day and for the following 2 days. Normal air pressure is 1010 millibars; it tends to be sudden big jumps up or down that cause the problem with CM/SM dogs - last week, for example, the pressure went up and down by 20-30 millibars on several days, which is a huge leap. The syrinx in the spinal cord and dilated ventricles in the brain both create internal pressure, and if there is then an intensification of pressure from outside as well, you can see why many dogs get uncomfortable. If you can see Ziggy getting affected by air pressure, it helps to give an extra gabapentin - something to OK with your neurologist in January. It helps to make a note of when Ziggy seems uncomfortable and the accompanying air pressure, so that you can show the neurologist the apparent connection.
So glad the gabapentin is making a real difference.
Kate, Oliver and Aled
PS Have just checked tomorrow's weather, which is going to be wet and windy - in my area (Coventry) the air pressure is dropping 33 millibars between 6 am and the following midnight, so don't be surprised if Ziggy is a bit uncomfortable. It's not a sudden relapse, and once the pressure evens out again he should feel better.
Ziggy just had a really really bad pain episode. Im now used to what his episodes are like but this one was a bit different to the norm. I lifted him onto the bed and he all of a sudden had this huge head tilt started to run toward my mom and he was shaking and then he violently scratched his ears really badly for about 15 seconds. He then stopped and was shaking quite badly and looked horrified :( . He was licking his lips a lot and he had a slight head tilt still... Hes now settled down and hes licking his paws quite badly. He just 12 minutes or so ago had his Gabapentin... The air pressure is currently 1002 MB and a few hours ago it was about 996 ( i think). We are really quite shaken up by this because we have seen him bad before but this is new.
It was really disturbing to watch and ofcorse (it always happens in the situations where you REALLY need it) I couldnt find my phone to record the episode. Hes now really agitated and still licking his paws.
Is this normal? I know its normal for them to be bad when the air pressure is changing like it is but surely having pain episodes this bad isnt normal? Maybe it is and im being paranoid, just thought id check.
This must have been really frightening for you. I'm not very expert on severe pain in dogs with CM/SM because neither of mine has ever had that sort of pain. But don't assume that it is necessarily caused by SM - it could be something else, like an ear problem. Oliver was scratching like mad last week and didn't like having his ear touched - turned out he'd got a sharp grass seed in his ear (in December, I ask you!). Then he was yelping with an anal gland infection... He's fine now, which is more than can be said for my finances!
Immediately after the new year, when most people are likely to be back at work, I would ring your neurologist and tell him/her about this episode (not sure who you are seeing!). He/she may be able to give you an earlier appointment, or suggest you increase Ziggy's gabapentin, or suggest it's not SM related at all - if you're seeing Sebastien, he's very good about talking things through on the phone if you need help.
Kate, Oliver and Aled
Hi Kate! We are currently seeing Stephanie at the moment. I asked my Mom for more details on the episode because I frantically dashed out the room to find my phone. (which was right next to me on the table... Funny what panic does to you, eh?)
Originally Posted by Kate H
She said the following:
Severe head tilt
Lost sense of direction (As soon as his head started to tilt it was almost like he was stumbling to a random direction which I did witness)
Both back legs went a bit funny
In panic (Which he definitely was)
Licking lips (sickness)
Slight head tremor after the episode
Shaking after the episode
He then settled down and then started violently licking his paws
I compared this pain episode to all the others I have in my diary and this is definitely the worst one. Is there a possibility this might not be related to his CM/SM?
Sounds a little like an episode of what's often called Vestibular Syndrome. A couple of my own bred dogs had episodes something like this. It's some sort of disturbance in the brain, which often happens just the once, then never again, or it can recur. I should check in with Stephanie on the 'phone, who will tell you if Ziggy needs to have the appointment brought forward.
I know how alarming episodes like this can be, but try to remember that Ziggy will have had no idea that anything happened and if it is VS, any residual effects should clear up within a day or two.
I think your description of the episode is very lucid and observational, so don't worry too much about being unable to find the camera. Words can paint as big a picture sometimes and I think you have done very well with yours.
Hi Flo! After his episode the other night nothing of the sort recurred which is good. Yesterday he was quite good and didn't have too much of a problem sm wise but today he is really bad. He's manically manically licking his paws and he's already had his gabapentin. I just went into the kitchen and there he was licking his paws and crying a bit. ( he's stopped now but that is something new providing that was related which I'm pretty sure it was) Luckily the neurologist will be giving us a ring on tues/wed so we can discuss what's what and the outcome is medication wise.
Anyway, thanks again Flo for all that information, it's looking like that's what is was the other night which is good to know.
I wondered about a vestibular episode as well - Oliver had one earlier this year and it was very much as you describe. The vestibular coil is the innermost part of the ear and helps to control balance, which is why their back legs go all wobbly. I rested Oliver in his crate for a few hours and then he was fine and has had nothing similar since, though some dogs can apparently take much longer to recover.
I'm glad you'll be able to speak to Stephanie - Ziggy is on a very low dose of gabapentin, so she may suggest increasing it, or he may be one of those dogs like my Oliver who do better having it four times a day instead of three. It's normal for the medicines to need tweaking for a few months until you find the particular combination and dosage that suits your dog. Some dogs do better on Lyrica - a more refined form of gabapentin.
Kate, Oliver and Aled
I do apologise for the late reply, Kate! Been busy with one thing and another this new year. It sounds just like what you describe and like you said thank god he hasnt had any since.
Originally Posted by Kate H
Ziggy had a very very good Xmas and a reasonably comfortable new year. Although the past 2 days have been very very bad. Yesterday he was just going manic beyond manic on his paws 24/7 and was lying in the freezing cold conservatory which he just never ever has done or does. He was just very unsettled and just generally unwell really. Today we have just got back and he was waiting for us at the door (as usual) and he went to stretch as we opened the door and his back legs just slipped (they dont usually) and he just fell over. He got up again and was jumping up at us and collapsing onto his legs to lick his paws again. He was being really manic for food too.. He was constantly asking and this is way off his feeding time as he is usually fed at about 3PM at the very earliest. He kept jumping up at me in a very manic way (dont get me wrong, he gets excited when its near his food time but hes never that manic) asking for food which is something he never does at this time.
His eyes are also really red and he cant walk for a few seconds without licking his paws (although its getting a bit better now). We gave him a hand full of kibble to calm him down which has helped quite a bit.
Stephanie is in the middle of an appointment right now but shel be ringing us back later this afternoon so Il let you know how everything is. Thanks again for all your support :)
Hiya....so sorry to read this, please let us know how he is and what your vet says when she rings back....
Gentle hugs to Ziggi from us here
Only just seen this. I hope Stephanie was able to help.