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Thread: New member worried about SM - updated

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  1. #1
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    Default New member worried about SM - updated

    Hello

    I have just joined the forum to get some advice about SM. My Mum's dog Rex is about 9/10 and has always been itchy and scratchy and we never got to the bottom of it and as far as I know her vets have never mentioned SM. He also suffers from dry eye syndrome and lost his hearing at a relatively early age so he's now pretty much blind and totally deaf poor lad. He also goes off his food regularly, wont eat out of his bowl but will eat if hand fed. Just recently he's had a couple of episodes where he was unable to get up and appeared to be stuck or as if one back leg wouldn't work. When he did get up his back legs were all wobbly. His heart was also racing, suggesting he was distressed or in pain perhaps?

    He's been on painkillers (rimadyl) and is much better. Does this sound like SM? How much is and MRI scan going to cost (he's not insured unfortunately) and is the treatment relatively easy? I have not said anything to my Mum as she would be devastated, but he is coming to stay soon and I could follow it up with my vets who are very good. I don't want to worry her needlessly but want whats best for him.

    Thanks

  2. #2
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    The signs that you discribe do fit with those of SM, the only way that you will know for sure is to seek the advice of a Neurologist and have a possible MRI scan. A full MRI can cost around £1000-£1250, and a part scan, usually the top spine area only are around £250.

    Your vet will be able to get you to a Neurologist and you can go from there with his/her advice.

    Some Cavaliers manage with SM their whole lives with a small amount of medication and others can be severe enough for it to disrupt their life style enormously...every dog is a different case.

    Sadly I have lost three beautiful cavaliers with SM, it is heart breaking.

    If you need any more info on Neurologists or scan centres then please feel free to P/M me anytime and I can get you details, addresses and numbers for your vet.

    Are you living in the U.K?

    Visit this site as well, there is alot of very good SM info inside..

    www.cavalierhealth.org

    hope this helps,

    Alison, Wilts, U.K.

  3. #3
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    In a 9/10 year old dog with those vague symptoms, I'd be more likely to suspect disc disease or other progressive degenerative joint disease. Stiff joints, weak limbs. Not uncommon in older dogs. Even if it is SM, I wouldn't do an MRI because the main reason too d that would be to absolutely confirm SM for surgery or breeding purposes. In an older dog with not very severe signs, I'd lean towards just managing the pain and discomfort and not stress too much about definitively diagnosing. REally, you just need to speak with your vet and see what they think. They may be able to easily diagnose a managable problem with just palpation or x-rays.

    Treatmenet for SM is not easy, not definitive and verry experimental at this point. Surgery is not a cure and is often unrewarding and unsuccessful, with relapses always possible even if they do improve initially. medical management is aimed at decreasing symptoms and discomfort with pain meds, and/or diuretics to decrease cerebral spinal fluid which is thought to be part of the cause of the disease syndrome.

    It sounds to me more like your dog is just getting older, having a harder time getting up and moving around. All consistent with age related problems that can usually be well managed with Non-steroidal antinflammatories like Rimadyl. Sounds like he's responding well to it?
    Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.
    --Roger Caras

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    Sorry to hear about Rex's problems...I hope it is something easier to manage such as disc problems.

    The vet might look at doing x-rays which would show arthritis or disc problems, but sadly not SM.

    I presume skin conditions have been ruled out with regard to the itching?


    I have two dogs diagnosed with Syringo - one is only 3 and moderate/severely affected, the other is 10, also totally deaf, much more mildly affected. The older one, Rupert, does sometimes have shaky legs when he gets up, but has been battling with arthritis recently, although we now have that under control with homoeopathy and magno therapy.

    THe heart racing may well have been anxiety too...has his heart been checked?

    It is good that the Rimadyl is helping, we hope he will continue to do well.

    There is lots of information on this site and the sister site, http://sm.cavaliertalk.com/

    It is worth reading through and maybe printing off the relevant pages to take to your vet, as sadly many vets still aren't aware of Syringomyelia.
    Nicki and the Cavalier Clan Our photos www.scotlandimagery.com
    Supporting www.rupertsfund.com and www.cavaliermatters.org

  5. #5
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    I cannot agree that you would only need to MRI a Cavalier for breeding or possible surgery.

    All three of mine were scanned, none were used for breeding by myself, none had surgery.

    I needed to know if they has SM once they started to show various SM signs and to what extent they were possibly affected, I would rather rule out SM first before I carried out any other further tests, x-rays and many medications over many months/years.

    Surely it's best to gain a positive diagnosis in the first place.

    Alison, Wilts, U.K.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alison_Leighfield

    Surely it's best to gain a positive diagnosis in the first place.

    Alison, Wilts, U.K.
    I agree. Ideally, yes, it would bbe great to MRI every Cav that is scratching to rule out SM But it's not always practical. Or necessary, IMHO. And it's certainly seems more afforadable there in the UK. But here it's generally around $2000 for the MRI. And then what do you do with that informatioon if you don't plan on doing surgery? Just not a lot you can do for SM so a I guess sometimes it's more important to keep the dog comfortable than to find a definitive diagnosis. Certainly some people will want to know (I did, even though I was 90% sure Rory had SM). But it won't necessarily affect treatment options.
    Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.
    --Roger Caras

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    I didn't see the part about him always being itchy/scratching his whole life. This could certainly correlate with SM. It mi ght be worth asking your vet about it and bringing a long some reading materials from Karlin's SM site (as Nicki posted the website) for yourr vet to read up on. He might get relief from Gabapentin if the scratching/itching is from SM.
    Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.
    --Roger Caras

  8. #8
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    Thank you for all your suggestions. I will take the info sheets to my vet once he is with me. Once he starts coming off the rimadyl we will see if he starts getting worse again or if he stays well and it was an injury or flare up of some sort. His vets next suggestion was x ray, but I think he will be here by then (next week) and to be honest, my vets will be a lot cheaper due to location! He does have a slight heart murmur (nothing startling) so I will need to check if its OK to give him any kind of GA anyway. I will then follow up the SM route with my vets.

    He is such a sweetheart - his tail hardly ever stops wagging so I know he's been feeling pretty bad! Good news is he's much waggier again now and was able to jump into the car to visit the vets yesterday.

    Thinking of getting him a harness and have seen puppia mentioned - are they all good? I've seen some on ebay and the proceeds go to dog rescue so it sounds good.

  9. #9
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    KT is in Wales so I suggested Chestergates for the low cost MRI with Mr Skerritt, in her thread in the Introductions section. But at that point I didn;t know this dog was this elderly.

    Given this dog's age, his problems with his legs could certainly be related to a lot of things. And he is too old for surgical treatment for SM. I'd be inclined to give all the info on the links I noted in the Intro thread to your vet and *consider* an MRI -- though again at his age I don't know if I'd put him under for that. If it were my dog, I wouldn't. Instead I think I'd look to try neurontin, maybe steroids, for example -- if other causes for the hind leg weakness are eliminated. Our 13 year old pyrenees just had her hind legs give out from old age eventually, so this isn't necessarily SM related though it could be.

    I'd get him to a vet or specialist though with this new info in mind-- he is clearly suffering a bit and you'll want to get professional advice on the best step to take next.

    I'd also def. put him in a harness -- we all really love Puppias.
    Karlin
    Cavaliers: Jaspar Leo Lily Tansy Libby (foster) Mindy (foster)
    In memory: Lucy
    Cavalier SM Infosite:www.smcavaliers.com

  10. #10
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    Hello all and festive greetings

    Well Rex has had a few developments since I posted. When he came to me in November I took him to my vets, but because he had such a long history (14 pages by fax ) she was reluctant to take him on and suggested I take him back to his normal vets. This was understandable as he seemed fine for his whole stay with us.

    Unfortunately, just before my mother was due to come here for Christmas, Rex had another turn for the worse. The vets said it was OK for him to travel up here after giving him a painkiller/anti inflammatory injection 2 days in a row. I was very shocked when he arrived as he was unable to hold his head up or sit properly - his legs shaking and slipping out from under him.

    We took him straight to my vets, who sedated him and X-rayed immediately (why did her vets not do this?? ).

    They found evidence of a prolapsed disc - the vertebrae closer together than normal and a little evidence of bony growth below where the disc should be.

    He has been prescribed painkillers long term and complete crate rest for at least 3 weeks. Beyond this I am not really sure.

    Does anyone have any experience of slipped / prolapsed discs in Cav's?

    Please tell me if I should put my question in a different section if its not an SM related problem. Also, just checking, is it possible that the distortion is caused by SM or is this 'case closed' as my vet suggests? Its the scratching thing that makes me ask as its quite severe.

    He has improved slightly and appears relatively OK (though very subdued) apart from regular pain episodes where he spins in a circle with his head dropped to one side, cries in severe pain and tries to run off and press himself into any dark corner he can find.

    The pain is severe enough that he was so frightened he refused to get out of his crate to go to the toilet and would wet himself with the pain. He does appear to have improved as originally he would just hide under her bed and not come out. Now he comes out of the crate to lie on the floor and can sit up OK again and will walk out into the garden on lead.

    Any advice would be gratefully received as I am concerned for him in the long term and don't know what the prognosis is likely to be.

    Best wishes to all for the coming year

    ketty

    ps he got a lovely red puppia harness from me for Christmas

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