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Thread: Has my dog got SM

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  1. #1
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    Question Has my dog got SM

    Hi - I am new to this forum. I have a 3 yr old black and tan cavalier. Absolutely fine until I took him to the vet for a check for ear mites (our new puppy had them). When he came home he suddenly started darting and scurrying about, frantically trying to bite his bum and back leg. Very agitated. Since then he keeps on doing it. Took him back to the Vet who cleared an anal gland and gave him a little steroid injection and Fuciderm cream for his bottom which looked a little sore. He now seems generally distressed. He was really getting on well with his new puppy friend. I dont know if it is stress related (he was a stressed puppy when we got him) or if this could be the start of SM. What are the early signs and does it come on so quickly if this is SM. Help. Sonny's Mum

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    Quote Originally Posted by sonny View Post
    Hi - I am new to this forum. I have a 3 yr old black and tan cavalier. Absolutely fine until I took him to the vet for a check for ear mites (our new puppy had them). When he came home he suddenly started darting and scurrying about, frantically trying to bite his bum and back leg. Very agitated. Since then he keeps on doing it. Took him back to the Vet who cleared an anal gland and gave him a little steroid injection and Fuciderm cream for his bottom which looked a little sore. He now seems generally distressed. He was really getting on well with his new puppy friend. I dont know if it is stress related (he was a stressed puppy when we got him) or if this could be the start of SM. What are the early signs and does it come on so quickly if this is SM. Help. Sonny's Mum
    I would love to give you a helpful answer but this is such a difficult question.

    SM symptoms can come on suddenly and the early signs are so many & varied.
    On the other hand a sore bottom, a new puppy in the house and a tendency to get stressed could explain what you are seeing.

    Can you give a little more detail about the situation and why he seems generally distressed?
    Is he restless, still agitated, still biting himself? Has his attitude changed towards the puppy?
    Why did you think he was a stressed puppy when you first got him, what was he doing then aand is he doing the same things now?

    I really hope you are going to be able to write and say the problem seems to have resolved itself.
    Margaret C

    Cavaliers......Faith, The Ginger Tank and Woody.
    Japanese Chins.... Dandy, Benny, Bridgette and Hana.
    Remembered with love......... Tommy Tuppence and Fonzi

  3. #3
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    Default has my dog got SM

    Hi Margaret
    We got sonny from a breeder at 10 months (i was looking for a rehoming cav but none available); he comes from a reputable breeder with a large stock. He is a beautiful boy. Because of the location of the breeder sonny didn't venture out into the public area so was timid outside and frightened when people came into the house; we took him to puppy classes to boost his confidence which went well until he was attached twice by large dogs in the class. This did set him back a bit but usually by the end of the class his tail was up and he was wagging happily, but still keen to leave the building. We used DAP to settle him which worked well. He remained a shy dog and only this year was bold enough to meet dogs outside. We got the 12 week old puppy in September. They bonded well, play, sleep and try to eat each others food. The puppy has shown him how to play like a dog too. As I said all was perfectly well with Sonny until the visit to the vet. The only thing that may have stressed him at the vet was that I mentioned he seemed to have a bit of penile discharge so the vet had to investigate quite thoroughly down there (I think I was more embarrassed than sonny). He declared nothing to worry about but to try douching him once a day. Then 2 hours later at home Sonny started to get very agitated, scooting, quickly licking his bottom, back legs. At first I thought he had been stung or had acquired a tick somewhere but nothing to be seen. Took him back to the vet 2 days later who expressed an anal gland, gave the steroid cream for a slightly sore base of tail, and a steroid injection. I discussed this further with a local breeder who suggested that sometimes anal glands can set off a histamine reaction (itching and biting) so I have given him 1 piriton daily since. He is still doing the same actions, a bit less frequently. The only other change in his behaviour is if we take him for a walk and he starts to bark and howl (never did that before), or if the puppy goes for a walk he sits by the door howling. We have another appt with the vet tomorrow. My insurance only covers up to 1000 treatment, which I dont think will cover an MRI if that is what the vet suggests. What do you think?

  4. #4
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    Hi and welcome. Whatever is going on, I think it is only coincidence that it happened around the time of your visit to the vet. You also seem to have 2 different issues on hand–1 are some medical concerns, and the other is potential behavior issues that have arisen from the arrival of a new puppy, a situation that is not uncommon. Even if dogs play together, it can still be quite stressful to a dog that has been a solo dog at home to suddenly have a permanent companion and can take quite a while for things to settle down. I would certainly try to do a lot of activities that are separate but equal with your 3-year-old eg, take him for walks on his own as well as with the puppy, and give him lots of direct attention. He actually needs more attention than the puppy will, just for reassurance as things settle down.

    The howling at the door when you've taken the puppy out would not be uncommon–he's just frustrated at being left alone in the house while the puppy gets to go out. I would just ignore that kind of behavior, but I would also give him something pleasurable to do when the puppy goes out–for example, give him a Kong stuffed with something interesting but low calorie, such as mashed banana mixed in with a bit of dry food, or else, take the puppy out while he stays at home and has his morning meal in the Kong, etc. Kongs are one of the single best toys ever invented–they are very reassuring and comforting to dogs and also keep them quite busy. There are lots of threads on Kongs and how to stuff them that you can search for–some especially good ideas are low cal yogurt or banana as the base, adding in a few crunchy goodies like dry kibble, and then freezing the whole thing as that makes it last much longer for the dog. A small or medium-size Kong suits Cavaliers.

    On the medical issues–it is just very hard to tell what is causing this. SM can come on very quickly, yes, and also people can easily miss some of the earlier signs, thinking it just to be normal scratching and so on. But I also would think there might be a other reasons for why he is doing this and it might be worth seeing a different vet to get a 2nd opinion, at a different practice. With that kind of behavior, I'd be wondering about flea dermatitis, Rabbit mites (did your vet do a skin scrape test for the presence of mites? Many vets can miss them and they often congregate around the base of the tail and cause frantic scratching and discomfort) or perhaps allergies of some sort.

    If nothing else is working and there is a suspicion of SM, you could talk to your vet about using Dr. Clare Rusbridge's treatment protocol, which you can download from her website. She also has a document there that vets can read that gives lots of background on SM. If the medications for SM work, then you would know that that is likely what your dog has, and you can work on treating with medications without going the route of a costly MRI, at least initially as you decide what you wish to do. An MRI will give you a lot more information, confirm diagnosis, and would be necessary if you were to consider surgery. But given the expense of doing an MRI, and the frequency with which this condition appears in the breed, personally I think it makes more sense for many people to just try working with the recommended treatment protocol to see if that begins to help, as that is also pretty much a confirmation of diagnosis (However, many vets will not wish to undertake treatment without having a diagnosis or at least input from a neurologist and will want the owner to take the dog to a neurologist 1st). Another alternative is to see a neurologist for a clinical visit, but explain that you can't afford an MRI. Often, a neurologist can give a pretty good indication on a clinical exam, looking for various other signs of the condition, as to whether it is likely the dog has the condition or not.

    All that said, only an MRI can give a definitive diagnosis. And if you do find that you are dealing with SM, I'd be sure to let the breeder know as they should MRI their own breeding stock, if they are not doing this already. There are many low-cost programs that would enable them to do this in the UK, and hence, no excuse for any responsible breeder to neglect this important step in working towards breed health.
    Karlin
    Cavaliers: Jaspar Leo Lily Tansy Libby (foster) Mindy (foster)
    In memory: Lucy
    Cavalier SM Infosite:www.smcavaliers.com

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    Default has my dog got SM?

    Hi Karlin
    Thank you for your detailed response. I have been thinking the same about the puppy causing him stress. getting upset when the puppy is taken out on his own and possible skin irritation. We are making real efforts to praise him up, give him extra attention and separate walks. He's had a medicated bath and frontline and seems a bit happier today - not quite as frantic. I will wait to see if he settles further before visitng the vet again as he doesn't appear to be in physical pain and in other ways is still the happy, bouncy and active dog we have always had. I think he may always be the type of dog that becomes stressed in new situations. Will keep you posted. He does have one kong type toy so we will persevere with that too and make sure it stays his and is not shared with the puppy.

    I have read so much on the site and Dr Rusbridges pages which has been very helpful and informative, and I hope I am not just automatically thinking SM because he seemed to exhibit "neurological" symptoms. Hopefully just a skin irritation on this occasion. Thanks for your clear advice.

  6. #6
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    Smile SM or stress

    Just to keep you updated: Sonny is much more settled and is only occasionally doing his darting behaviour. The DAP diffuser and collar seem to have helped. He is happier going out for a walk now although still quite vocal. Fingers crossed this will all settle down.

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    Brilliant, yay Sonny!
    Please keep is updated and we look forward to stories of Sonny!

  8. #8
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    Glad things are better and you are less worried . Great news!
    Karlin
    Cavaliers: Jaspar Leo Lily Tansy Libby (foster) Mindy (foster)
    In memory: Lucy
    Cavalier SM Infosite:www.smcavaliers.com

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