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Thread: PLEASE help - We are at a loss!

  1. #1
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    Unhappy PLEASE help - We are at a loss!

    Can anyone please help me out with this?

    I haven't been here in a while but my poor Cavalier Frodo is ill. It started two weeks ago when he would yelp if we just walked by him, or tried to put his leash on. It has progressively gotten worse and now he barely moves because he will start yelping and going crazy, holding his right leg up and sometimes walking in circles. We've taken him to the vet three times now (and racked up a ton in vet bills). At first our vet told us it was just a pinched nerve and that it would go away in two to three weeks, but this is week two and it only seems to be getting worse.

    We researched SM and honestly the symptoms do not match up. He was not air-scratching obsessively and it isn't like he's going paralyzed. Here is one very odd thing - he lays around all day and will only eat when he put food and water right up against his mouth, but if we take him for a walk he seems perfectly fine! He will trot with me and use the restroom and sniff around, without yelping. It seems like its only when he's inside and sleeping that he will randomly start yelping and act like his paw/arm/shoulder/neck is hurting him.

    He went to the vet the other day (again) and X-rays were done. The vet said he saw a mass at the base of Frodo's skull (which scared us, because we know SM has to do with the brain coming out from the back of the skull) and the vet also said he thought he saw two slipped-disks in Frodo's spine. He sent the X-rays for more observation and they came back saying there was absolutely nothing abnormal with them, so we are back to the pinched nerve theory.

    As you can see this has kind of been a rollercoaster ride and we are still confused. He's on several medications for pain, and for his heart (he has a leaky valve, and is also going blind in one eye because that eye does not produce tears). Frodo is a mess, but this is just heart breaking and I am hoping someone on here knows of something we can try, or has been through something similar. The vet told us its either wait and see, or send him out of town for a cat-scan, which will be three to four thousand dollars and we cannot afford that.

    Any information will be greatly appreciated!! We don't want to lose our Frodo. If it helps, he is of average age (not a puppy, not an old dog). I'm not 100% sure what the age is but I can find out. I would guess seven or eight.
    Frodo and Mabes

  2. #2
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    Sorry you are so worried about Frodo (like the name!). I picked up on one thing you said (apart from your main concern): He...is also going blind in one eye because that eye does not produce tears'. Unless there is some other physiological cause for this, the non-production of tears in Cavaliers is usually a fairly common condition called Dry Eye. It is very painful, but is easily treatable with medication and should not cause blindness; it is also easily diagnosed with a simple test that your vet can do in a few minutes. My 10-year-old Cavalier was diagnosed with Dry Eye 5 weeks ago; he has ointment put in several times a day (and will have to for the rest of his life), and his eyes have not looked so wide and bright for months! But of course there may be another cause for Frodo's problem.

    As far as Frodo's back is concern, has your vet suggested complete rest? This can be really helpful with a variety of back conditions, simply because it takes the weight off the spine and gives any inflammation (such as caused by a pinched nerve) time to die down. Rest does mean rest! Preferably in a crate, with short excursions outside on leash to do business. Some dogs enjoy their walks so much that they are able to ignore any pain they feel (rather like we do with a headache, when we concentrate on something else); Oliver has SM and tends to whimper in discomfort when he is resting - you would never guess there was anything wrong with him when his nose is down following an interesting scent!

    Hope Frodo will be better soon

    Kate, Oliver and Aled

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    I'm so sorry to hear about Frodo - many SM affected dogs do not show typical symptoms, one reason why it can be hard to diagnose. Many do not scratch at all, some scratch and pull their hair out [originally it was thought they all scratched and didn't connect with the skin] I know of very few who have become paralysed.

    Whatever the cause of pain, when they are excited about something, going for a walk etc, the adrenaline level in the body is raised and it's amazing what they can do - sadly often they suffer afterwards. One of my severely affected Cavaliers one time jumped over a baby gate and would regularly clear 4 foot fences to get to me - much to the astonishment of my vet and neuro, as at home sometimes he would be lying moaning in pain


    Lying quietly and withdrawing from activity can be a sign of severe pain - vocalising is also a sign of severe pain - as per the information given out at the International Conference on Syringomyelia in 2006.

    It is very much an emotional rollercoaster getting conditions diagnosed and then living with them, especially seeing your dog suffer.


    Have a look at these sites http://sm.cavaliertalk.com/, http://www.veterinary-neurologist.co.uk/, http://cavalierhealth.org/syringomye...nary_Resources and http://cavaliermatters.org/ there is information you can print off to give to your vet. Many vets are not yet familiar with the condition especially in areas where there are not many Cavaliers.


    Obviously the best way to diagnose is by MRI scan, however if this can be prohibitively expensive if you do not have insurance. The next best thing would be to see a neurologist familiar with the condition - there is a list of neurologists here http://cavalierhealth.org/neurologists.htm


    Try to record Frodo's symptoms, and if you can video them that would be very helpful for the neurologist.


    Please keep us updated.
    Nicki and the Cavalier Clan Our photos www.scotlandimagery.com
    Supporting www.rupertsfund.com and www.cavaliermatters.org

  4. #4
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    Thank you so much for the response!

    Quote Originally Posted by Kate H View Post
    Sorry you are so worried about Frodo (like the name!). I picked up on one thing you said (apart from your main concern): He...is also going blind in one eye because that eye does not produce tears'. Unless there is some other physiological cause for this, the non-production of tears in Cavaliers is usually a fairly common condition called Dry Eye. It is very painful, but is easily treatable with medication and should not cause blindness; it is also easily diagnosed with a simple test that your vet can do in a few minutes. My 10-year-old Cavalier was diagnosed with Dry Eye 5 weeks ago; he has ointment put in several times a day (and will have to for the rest of his life), and his eyes have not looked so wide and bright for months! But of course there may be another cause for Frodo's problem.

    As far as Frodo's back is concern, has your vet suggested complete rest? This can be really helpful with a variety of back conditions, simply because it takes the weight off the spine and gives any inflammation (such as caused by a pinched nerve) time to die down. Rest does mean rest! Preferably in a crate, with short excursions outside on leash to do business. Some dogs enjoy their walks so much that they are able to ignore any pain they feel (rather like we do with a headache, when we concentrate on something else); Oliver has SM and tends to whimper in discomfort when he is resting - you would never guess there was anything wrong with him when his nose is down following an interesting scent!

    Hope Frodo will be better soon

    Kate, Oliver and Aled
    The vet did give us an ointment to use with Frodo, on the eye that isn't producing tears. So we are giving that to him twice a day. His eyes seem to have cleared up some from it!

    We also read online that a crate may be best for him. He literally doesn't move all day, or all night, unless he goes crazy yelping or we try to take him outside to use the bathroom. Otherwise he will stay in the same position for hours and hours My only concern with the crate is if he starts yelping and spinning and ends up hurting himself more. He freaks out when he does this, and if someone is near him he will climb up onto them. He even tried to climb up onto someones shoulder the other day! Its such an odd, sad thing to watch.
    Frodo and Mabes

  5. #5
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    I am so sorry you are having so many concerns.

    I think for a start -- I would go to another vet as it doesn't sound like he has much of a clue on a number of levels. As Kate says dry eye needs urgent treatment but the treatment is easily done and there's no way he should be 'going blind' if it is dry eye. It is however very painful and I sure hope your vet is actually treating this already!!

    I am afraid some of what you describe sounds potentially like SM -- scratching is not seen in all dogs; as a matter of fact it is reported in fewer than 50% of affected dogs, but pain, yelping,leash discomfort could be an issue.

    It could also be some sort of neurological problem related to balance if he is going in circles. I must say I have never heard of a vet who could see so many things and just leave it untreated as a 'pinched nerve'...

    Id go to a different vet, get a second opinion, and go from there. You may need to see a neurologist; you may need scans. I am sorry you may not be able to manage these -- insurance is such a necessity with this breed but that won;t help with pre-existing conditions now. Before making any drastic decisions though I would at least get a second opinion and if you feel you cannot give him the scans he may need, then your options can not really include leaving him as he is, as that would be too cruel. If you want him to have a chance, in difficult circumstances you might consider contacting breed rescue for possible help to rehome him as perhaps someone else or a group would try to help treat and rehome.

    The yelping though is a sign of severe pain of some sort and really must be properly diagnosed and treated -- best of luck and maybe others have more specific ideas on cause.
    Karlin
    Cavaliers: Jaspar Lily Tansy Libby Mindy
    In memory: Lucy Leo
    Cavalier SM Information site:www.smcavaliers.com

  6. #6
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    Just read second post -- I really think you MUST try to get a referral to a neurologist. That is just no quality of life at all for Frodo and his non-movement indicates severe pain. I'd see a second vet and see if they might let you try some of the meds for SM on Clare Rusbridge's treatment protocol to see if that helps. He really must get pain relief at a minimum -- steroids perhaps as an emergency.
    Karlin
    Cavaliers: Jaspar Lily Tansy Libby Mindy
    In memory: Lucy Leo
    Cavalier SM Information site:www.smcavaliers.com

  7. #7
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    The vet told us its either wait and see, or send him out of town for a cat-scan, which will be three to four thousand dollars
    Cat scans and x rays will not diagnose SM.
    Only an MRI scan will do that.Please don't waste your money.
    Take a look through this website,which gives a good basic overview of SM and other health issues.
    http://cavaliermatters.org/

    Sins
    Sharing my sofa with Holly, Ivy,Lilly and Hazy.. and never forgetting our beautiful Daisy who reached the bridge too soon.

  8. #8
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    Karlin, Nicki and others are helping you with possible SM, so I'll stay with the eye! Is the ointment the vet gave you for Frodo called Optimmune (don't know whether it has a different name in the US)? This is a medication to control the underlying cause of Dry Eye. You might also find it helpful to use ViscoTears on Frodo, if your vet agrees. These are substitute tears that keep the eyes well lubricated and help relieve the pain; they are not a prescription medicine - you can buy them over the counter at a pharmacy or online and are not expensive. They need to be used three or four times a day, or more if Frodo's eye looks uncomfortable. Some vets don't like using artificial tears, as they feel they stop the eye producing its own tears - but as that is precisely what is happening with Dry Eye anyway, I never quite understand that thinking! The eye problem may seem minor compared with Frodo's other pain, but Dry Eye can be very painful and anything that makes him feel even a little bit more comfortable is worth pursuing, until the main problem can be diagnosed and treated.

    Kate, Oliver and Aled

  9. #9
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    Thank you all so much for your responses!!

    I went downstairs after my last post and tried to get him up so he could take his medicine, and he wouldn't stand up so I lifted him...and noticed he had peed where he was laying I managed to get him to eat quite a bit and then I took him for a walk, where he used the restroom some more. One other odd thing is that he seems to be afraid of our house! When we got back to the front steps he stopped and turned his head, and looked the other way. He stayed this way for a good while, even with me gently tugging his leash to get him to come. Finally I had to pick him up and set him inside the house, even then he wouldn't budge forward. How weird is that??

    I have a question about SM - does it come on this quickly? Within a couple of weeks? And would he be in constant pain or just occasional? I would say he wakes up, on average, every 8 hours and yelps. Usually once or twice during the day, then once at night, just holding one leg up in the air.

    Kate H - the vet gave us two medicines for his eyes! I looked at the boxes and they don't really seem to have a name, as silly as that sounds. One says "Neopolydex Ophthalmic Ointment" by a company called Falcon, and we are to use that once a day, at night. The other just says "Artificial Tears Ointment" and we can use that regularly.

    I truly hear you guys on the point about finding another vet. We actually went from a local one, to this one, because he is supposed to be the best around. He does segments on the local news and is kind of expensive. I'm not in control of where we take Frodo (he is actually my mom's dog) but I will talk to her about this and relay all suggestions you guys have!!

    Again thank you so much. I feel like I'm going crazy with all of this, and he's such a sweetheart (as all Cavaliers are!) I just hate seeing him in pain but I am NOT ready to lose him.

    -edit-

    Sins - that is a lovely site!! Very informative and I love the drawings. Thank you!
    Last edited by Mabes; 2nd March 2012 at 01:24 AM.
    Frodo and Mabes

  10. #10
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    It does sound as if your poor Frodo is in very severe pain, so much so that he does not dare to move.

    When my Monty suddenly started having bouts of serious neuropathic pain from SM he gradually retreated through the house, ending up in our bathroom. Even between the attacks he would not go anywhere near where he had previously had a screaming episode, not even into the garden. He associated those places with pain.

    What you are describing could very well be SM. In fact I will be very surprised if there is any other explanation for what is happening to your poor little boy.

    You are the only person that can help Frodo. He needs effective pain relief immediately from your Vet and then he needs an MRI or, at very least, a visit to a Neurologist that knows about SM.
    Margaret C

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

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