Wondering about Chaucer
This is the first time I've posted with SM Questions, but rerading about Rory's upcoming surgery makes me wonder.
Chaucer scratches his head and chews his feet periodically a lot, even to the point of having scratched his skin raw. But then it seems like an oatmeal bath helps, he slows down and I think its allergies. Now he is reluctant to jump on the couch. We took him to the vet and he was guarding quite a bit all along his back, so the vet thought he may have a sprain. He moved his neck around and he did not even wince. He is better with 5 days of dermamax and rest but not completely his old self. I had been jumping him for obedience, so I thought maybe he hurt himself. I know an MRI is the only way to tell and I'm not ready to do that, as his symptoms do not completely fit. Any ideas from anyone?
Sorry to hear you have these worries and that Chaucer is having some pain. First, I'd certainly stop jumping him at least for now, as if it is SM this will aggravate it and is already causing problems for him. If Chaucer was on any kind of steroids SM also responds to this and to many pain medications so the fact that he improved on a medication wouldn't really indicate whether or not SM may be the underlying problem.
One of the difficulties with SM is there are such a range of symptoms (for example, a lot of people think if their dog isn't scratching or air scratching it can't be SM, but neurologist Dr Curtis Dewey has said fewer than 50% of SM-affected cavaliers present with scratching as a symptom).
I'd only have an MRI if you know what you would do with this information. For example, if you want to consider surgery as an option, if he does have SM. Or if you wish to know so that you can try some of the other medical approaches (none of which will cure SM, though some may help mildly or moderately affected dogs in the medium to long term, and definitely in the short term).
I would continue to watch and see how he does: if he doesn't respond over time, or has recurrences, then SM is probably going to need to be considered. Get your vet all the SM info off my SM website for example -- especially the symptoms and information sheets and the treatment diagram.
If symptoms persist you'll need to weigh up whether to do an MRI and what you might do with that information.
My personal feeling is that I will MRI every cavalier I ever own -- because I want the option of early intervention with something like frusemide to see if that helps. Also I'd just rather know what I am potentially dealing with. This is the choice I made with my two boys, and I am glad I have been able to start Leo on frusemide. He is doing well, as far as I can tell -- he has never had any really perceptible symptoms. It is hard to tell if and how dogs will progress but at least I have a baseline MRI on his condition and lots of time to consider what I'd do next, and to try frusemide which some neurologists feel can be used successfully for some dogs. However my MRI decisions are based on the availability of low cost mini MRIs, which are adequate for diagnosis. If I had to pay US prices, I'd probably not MRI unless I wanted to make a decision on surgery or was breeding.
I'm sorry to hear about Chaucer. If you do decide to move forward with a MRI, let me know and I can give you some info about the neuro in either Madison or the U of Minnesota if you're interested.
Like Karlin said, I personally would move forward with a MRI just for peace of mind in knowing what exactly is going on. We are going to MRI Abbey after the holidays. We suspect SM and have had her on Furosemide for a few months now and it has really helped. Given this, we're pretty sure it is SM. We're still moving forward with a MRI though, because we need to know how mild or advanced this is and what our next step/s will be.
Good luck, and please keep us posted.
((((((((Chaucer)))))))) I love that name :D
My Maxx has SM and is also on Frusemide. I am just thankful I have insurance on him as his MRI cost Â£940! There is no way on this earth I can afford to just go and pay that amount out for Charlie (he doesn't have any symptoms anyway).
At the moment Charlie is covered by an insurance that belongs to the lady who was looking after him (before he came to us) so when that runs out I will insure him in my name and if he develops any symptoms at all then I will get him scanned. He's just 18mths anyway so is still a young hooligan!
Karlin, where can you get a low cost scan? I thought they were only for breeders?