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Thread: How do I go about having my puppy tested for Syringomyelia?

  1. #1
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    Default How do I go about having my puppy tested for Syringomyelia?

    Our little guy is 4 months old today and we would like to have him tested for Syringomyelia and was wondering how we would go
    about it and what testing involves. Can a pup be tested for the condition with accurate results?
    We have an appointment with our regular vet this week, as Jessie is being desexed, microchipped and having a hernia removed,
    and we would like to bring the testing up with our vet.

    Are most vets well versed on the condition, or should I perhaps provide her with some information?
    He's displaying a few of the common symptoms, the collar scratching, paw licking, head shaking, which I'm certain is just normal
    puppy behaviour, as he is not doing these excessively as such, just regularly. We would like to have him tested anyway,
    for our own peace of mind mainly. For those with SM diagnosed pets, do you remember what the first symptoms were that you
    noticed that made you initially take your dog for testing? I've sat through countless youtube clips of dogs that have been diagnosed,
    but they symptoms seem fairly well advanced.

    Just hoping for a little advice about how to go about approaching our vet and what should I expect from the testing.

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    You would need to get an MRI. Our pup was MRI scanned at 6 months. He did not show SM yet but showed significant CM. Due to his sever symptoms and the malformation we were started on medication. His 1st symptom was scratching at his neck/collar. At first I thought he just didn't like the collar but that continued for 2 weeks. Finally he had a bald patch. He also chewed his feet/hindlegs a lot. Eventually chewed patches of fur off his butt. He also would yelp occasionally for unknown reasons and rub his head ALL the time.

    Here are some videos from 4-6 months of age:

    http://youtu.be/bnwf0Q09Uiw

    http://youtu.be/s8TIAuOVrhc

    http://youtu.be/8SKxTuJcViE

    http://youtu.be/cFGwlwg4sgA

    http://youtu.be/hMqE_pJWMW4

    We MRI scanned young and my pup had not developed the syrinx yet but his pain is caused by malformation alone. Our neurologist expected he would develop a syrinx pretty quickly. We have not had him rescanned to do financial reasons. Make sure you have insurance. It is a very costly condition. An MRI in the USA runs around $2500. Our monthly medications run us around $100. We have insurance but it's not always possible to have $$$ on hand to pay the vets upfront. If you scan now it will likely show you the malformation that almost all Cavaliers have. It may not show SM at the moment. That does not mean your pup will not develop it at a later date. They can develop it at any age. Our neurologist said he sees Cavaliers coming in to the clinic as young as 4-6 months with symptoms but a majority are 2-5 years of age. Like my pup, some dog show pain from CM alone . In our case we were not treating the MRI scan but the symptoms my pup had.

    If I were you, I would be looking for a vet familiar with Cavaliers and SM. I know here in the US most vets have not heard of SM. We had to battle with several vets in order to my pup seen by a neurologist. Everyone believed my pup was just fine. Thankfully our neurologist was able to set our vets straight.

    Do you know if your pups parents were MRI scanned?
    Flash Blitz Holly

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    Also, as a side note...make sure you get insurance before you even bring up the conversation with your vet. If you even talk about it, it will be recorded and insurance will then see that as "pre-existing" and you will not be covered (this is what happened to me). So get insurance as an MRI is very expensive and so in continued care. If you think at all that your pup might have SM, get insurance, can't stress that enough.

    Also, my neurologist said that even if we scan Brooklyn now for instance (she is 1) and she is clear, that does not mean she will be clear at 2 1/2 or later. It is not that black and white unfortunately.

    If you do bring it up with your vet, she/he will refer you to a neurologist and they will help you move forward with the process, maybe trail some meds, maybe go right into an MRI.

    Have you ruled out allergies? Skin issues? And other thinks that might cause these symptoms? Best to rule those out first just to make sure and then move forward with SM investigations.

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    I wouldn't scan unless you have a reason to be worried. The MRI is expensive, and, like any procedure, has risks.

    I intend to scan both of my dogs for research purposes (I hope I won't be scanning because of symptoms), but those scans won't be done until they are closer to 5 years of age.

    And, yes, don't mention SM to your vet unless you have insurance, and are past the intro period.

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    Thanks for your replies, greatly appreciated.
    He isn't currently insured, but have the forms here, just haven't got around to filling them out, but will make it a priority now.

    I had thought allergies as well, as every time we come in from outside, his nose sniffles with a clear discharge, which the vet
    checked on our last visit at 12 weeks. He is flea free, but some of the itchiness may come from living in a semi rural area and small insects
    in the grass, which we keep short.

    It's hard to assess what would be excessive traits of SM, but going by those clips, those seem pretty severe compared to Jessie's.
    He's been scratching at his collar since he was 7 weeks when we first brought him home. Each scratch only lasts around 5 seconds, but
    he's does it regularly. Could his collar just be irritating him, as It's a little looser than it should be and recently we bought him
    his first big boy collar, which he isn't scratching as much as he would his puppy collar. He licks his front paws mainly, hardly ever his
    back paws, but he does lick towards his rear end, mainly his tiny testicles, but not obsessively either. He was randomly yelping,
    but at 12 weeks the vet checked his anal glands and found that one was full and needed expressing, since then, the random
    yelping has stopped. He does enjoy rubbing his face and runs along the length of our couches rubbing it as he goes, but that's every
    once in a while, he'll go for weeks without doing it.

    We purchased Jessie from a couple that have Cavaliers (as pets, not for breeding purposes) and not being desexed, along came a
    litter. Jessie's parents are well cared for, pampered pets with lovely natures and show no symptoms of SM, but they are
    only 2 and 3 years old. Not knowing anything about SM before we bought him, to the best of my knowledge, they haven't been
    scanned, but I will certainly ask.

    It's just frightening the prospect of SM. I know many families deal with their furbabies living with SM everyday, but I don't think
    it really strikes you until your own little buddy is faced with it.
    Just thought I would throw in a photo of my little guy


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    So sorry you are worried about this.

    Just a few things... aside from your SM concerns: maybe there are special reasons for your decision or your vets wanting to neuter so young, but many wouldn't consider neutering a dog at only four months old without some really compelling reason. The best age that vets generally recommend is around 6 months and some people prefer to wait till the dog is about a year old and growth plates close. Four months is really young and generally is an age when only rescues would opt to neuter if they felt they absolutely could not trust people to responsibly neuter at an older age. I do understand such reaosning but even then, all the rescues I know, including me when I was involved in cavalier rescue, would not have neutered before 6 months.

    On scanning for SM -- unless you are recommended to do so by a neurologist there's really no reason to do this, and it would be a process of going through a vet for each of the things you feel might be a sing of SM and eliminating all other possibilities. Most of the things you describe would easily be due to many other reasons in a puppy so young. Allergies would come to mind long before SM in a young pup. MRIs are very expensive and are not a once-off -- eg if he is clear now, as most puppies that age would be, SM can develop at any point throughout his life. A dog older than 2.5 is far more likely to show signs of a syrinx for example. So unless there are very strong reasons for doing an MRI, and absolutely nothing addresses the leg chewing for example, I wouldn't MRI a pup as young as this.

    This is not to totally dismiss your concerns but to give some context. A lot of what you describe really could be due to almost anything. I have had two dogs totally clear of SM andonly very mild CM who face rub(bed) after every meal and every walk, both chew(ed) at their legs or licked their paws regularly, etc. Dogs do this for many reasons besides SM and sometimes it is hard to pinpoint exactly why. Most puppies will scratch on and off at their necks for weeks after they get their first collar. So yes, go talk to your vet , but it would really be more for seeing what other answers there are more likely to be, than to investigate for SM, I think.
    Karlin
    Cavaliers: Jaspar Lily Tansy Libby Mindy
    In memory: Lucy Leo
    Cavalier SM Information site:www.smcavaliers.com

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    Hi Karlin and thanks for your reply.
    Our little guy is now recovering at home with his lamp shade on his neck, after undergoing his desexing and hernia operation,
    both being successful and he was already back to himself the next morning, with a healthy appetite and still happy go lucky.
    Funnily enough, the admissions nurse also asked why we were having him fixed so young. It was only on the advice of one of their
    vets, otherwise we would have waited. They said the hernia was quite large for his age.

    Since he's been home, the chewing and chomping has stopped and he hasn't even attempted to (wearing his e - collar, he cant really reach)
    and the vet also trimmed his inner ear hair (for his desexing stamp, which incidentally, has stained not only both ears, but they cleaned
    his ears after stamping, and the fur on the side of his head is green as well) but it's stopped the ear scratching as well.

    We are currently wading through pet insurers to find one that includes dental, but it'll be a relief to have that cover, just in case.
    Neither parent displays any of the symptoms, which is a small comfort.

    I'm just thankful that we have CT to turn to for support and to seek advice.
    Just for good measure, here is Jessie with his lampshade


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    Is there a reason why he needs to have his collar on all the time? If you could do away with it for maybe a week and see if he's still scratching, that would really help.

    I don't put collars on either of my dogs when we're indoors. Lyra doesn't even have a collar--I use a step in harness for her whenever we go on walks. But other than that, when we're inside or in the fenced yard, neither of my dogs wear collars or harnesses. But I'm also VERY vigilant, so I know for a fact that neither of them can ever get out of the house/yard on their own.

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    It was mainly due to the drama of needing to put his collar on and off each time we ventured outside.
    Due to the council, he needs to be wearing his registration tags at all times, otherwise we risk being fined.
    They have been known to peek over fences, especially now that all dangerous dog breeds need to be declared.

    Once his stitches are out, I'll try him without it and see how he goes. I've tried the harness and he doesn't much care for it unfortunately.
    Thanks for the tip

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    Yeah, I'd just try it for a week and see if he's still scratching. My dogs scratch their necks whenever they have their collars on, but when I remove it they stop completely.

    You could try training him to get used to a harness--my dogs didn't like it at first but now they get happy when they see me taking their harnesses out because that means we're going out for a walk!

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