Gus is 11 yrs old....when he was 2yrs old he had a strange episode with pain and stiffness in his neck, it happened twice and he seemed in a lot of pain with his neck twisted to one side but each episode only lasted a few minutes or less. The second one was bad and we rushed him to the vets but it had stopped by the time we arrived. Anti-inflammatory's helped and x-rays done showed no problem.It never happened again... He had times over the years where he would get a sore neck/back but never anything as bad again. We discovered that his vaccines when given in his neck area was followed by pain and stiffness in his neck area and when this happened a second time we changed to having them given in his hind area. He was fine for years. Last year aged 10 he had reluctance to walk one day and looked in pain with his back the vet thought disc degeneration coupled with some other back problem and again anti-inflammatory's worked along with a course of cartrophan.
He has been well since except a couple of months ago he started slight head nodding and then it got worse and recently he was doing it more and more. Yesterday we went to the vets armed with video of this nodding. We seen the head vet.
He examined Gus thoroughly, looked at the video, asked a lot of questions as to how Gus is lately, looked over his past files, called in a colleague and they both went to the side to talk, I was getting worried especially by the look on my vets face, then he said they think it is SM...
I was shocked to say the least. I would never have thought especially not Gus. My vet thinks the nodding is pain episodes caused by SM, we thought mild seizures but the vet doesn't think so although he said there may be a little disorientation because of pain. He has known Gus and Pippin since puppies and DJ since I've had him and is a good vet.
He has advised not having MRI as it is too expensive and will only tell us what is wrong but we will still have to treat it with medication as Gus is 11 so surgery would not be something I would put him through. He doesn't want to put him on steroids for now and has given us a weeks supply of diazepam to see if it helps relax the muscles and stop the nodding, and we will proceed from there depending on how Gus is.The vet spent a lot of time moving Gus' neck and checking for ease of movement. Gus didn't seem to mind too much but the vet felt his neck muscles were very tense and the diazepam is to see if the muscles will relax and if so whether the nodding eases of not. He is only on half a 5mg twice daily and started them monday night, yesterday he didn't seem to be nodding as much. We also have metacam for his bad days and are to call the vet on Mon to talk about how he Gus is doing.
Gus is well in himself, eating, going for short walks,he loves his food especially a treat and will steal if he can he loves sleeping on my lap and will insist the younger dogs move to let him up as he is number one, he jumps on chairs (although nods a lot just before jumping or attempting to jump). He doesn't over scratch, but hates any kind of collar, always has and would scratch light one's off, so we don't use one. He always makes a strange 'coughing/hacking' sound after getting a drink, but it doesn't seem to be his throat that's the problem he kind of looks like he's unhinging his jaw!
Lately he runs to bed when he sees the grooming brushes come out, Licks his front paws, sometimes seems to stare into space but it doesn't last long, likes a good roll on his back but doing it more frequently, and now and again, rubs his face with his paw. one thing he has always done since the age of 2, after the strange neck incidents, and I forgot to mention it because it was just his 'thing', and a locum vet told us years ago that most dogs don't like to be lifted and passed it off...If you lift Gus from his middle he will scream almost as if you'd given him electric shock, we never ever lift him this way and always tell new visitors to our home, vets etc. not to, we always lift Gus with one hand under his rear and one under his chest and he doesn't even flinch. -we don't always be lifting him it's usually when he climbed on a chair to steal our food- now I'm putting two and two together and feeling it may be SM and I should have known or at least noticed, but all these things never happened together and only lately all came together
I am wondering has anyone else ever had a dog with SM who didn't have any ongoing symptoms and only really started to show pain/symptoms at such a late age?
Thanks for reading...
Just to add, the vet thinks Gus still does have some disc degeneration but it is stable at the moment and he also said that Gus has a great heart for an 11 year old dog and it would be unusual in his practice to find a heart as good in an old cavalier, which is good but a pity if he does have sm...