15th November 2013, 03:10 PM
Could this be be SM?
We have a 8 year old Cavalier King Charles who has just this year started having a rather large array of health issues. He has never ever had any health troubles through his life. Never ever. Literately no issues what so ever up until this year.
It all started out with him being a little under the weather. A little high temprature and some very saw ears. We took him to the vet and they said they would prescribe him some painkillers (Loxicom I think) and some antibiotic drops for his ears. We got back home and gave him the meds and there were no issues what so ever until about 12AM. I was still up and he was out of his cage lying underneath a table. He all of a sudden would keep scratching his ears. Quite excessively too. It got more and more frequent to a point where he couldnt go 2 seconds without scratching his one ear. It was so sensitive that you couldnt even lift his ear to take a look inside.
He kept scratching his ears and scratching and scratching and he barked and growled at nothing in frustration. He then eventually gradually calmed down over the corse of about 20 minutes.
He was absolutely fine after this and he went to bed and slept as normal... Really rather strange. Then we took him to the vets again to make sure everything was ok and they said it was probably to do with the fact his ear was so sensitive for some reason and that to let the antibios do their stuff. They also found a very very mild heart murmur (they said it was at a grade that was so low that it was barely even noticeable). They also gave him another check up on this trip and they discovered his prostate was inflamed. We pointed this out to them because his penis had this green discharge on it. Quite a lot of it infact that it would rub off onto his legs. They said that the anti bios they prescribed would take care of it. Sure enough, a week went by and you could finally lift his ear to take a look. But you hard a hard time being able to touch them still. So we took him for a follow up appointment and they said that they anti bios had worked and everything including his prostate was fine.
After this everything was sort of ok. A couple weeks later we took him a walk up a small hill and he suddenly stoped walking and sat and literately chewed his front paws really violently. We waited about 10 seconds and he was fine to walk again. This has happened about 2 times since that.
He also does this rather unusual thing around the house sometimes in which he trys to scratch his ear while walking. He pulls this funny face and walks really weird with one of his back legs failing to reach his ears. This to me combined with some of the other issues sounds like syringomyelia but the vet said that older dogs cant get it if they didnt have any issues in their youth which he didnt.
Another thing is that his paw licking has gotten far far more excessive than usual. He usually licks his paws obsessively but we just tell him to stop and he does. But recently in the past 2 weeks (I think anyway) his paw licking has escalated to pretty much all the time. If hes awake, hes doing it. Both his paws will be wet the chances are..
He still had bad allergy problems with his dry snorting when getting excited. Its almost as if he cant breath when he does it and each episode lasts about 10 to about 20 seconds. Because of this issue we took him AGAIN and asked whats going on. They said it was to do with his throat because of the pollen count this summer in Britain which to be fair he did have bad hay fever with. So they prescribed him some tablets or something to fix this issue supposedly. So since we havent been back and although this issue is less frequent it is still happening now and again albeit a lot less.
And finally... Last but not least which is what caused me to make this thread is what happened about 20 minutes ago. He was sitting on my Moms lap and he all of a sudden (after being completely fine) the left side of his face went all weird and he lifted his left paw to his face as if to try and scratch it. It looked like it was out of his control and he did it in an irritated fashion. It lasted about 8 seconds and then he walked off all odd. His front left leg was limping all the way to the kitchen where he sat down and stayed. We then tried to encourage him to walk so we could see if the problem was still present. We couldnt get him to walk to us so we got a small chunk of ham out the fridge (his favorite) and he got up and ran straight toward us like he would usually. So we took took this piece of ham into the living room to test him. Sure enough, he ran straight into the living room and literately leaped for it which showed his agility. (ofcorse, we didnt give it him, we made him sit and everything )
He is now lying in his usual spot underneath the table and is fast asleep just fine. Now we are left wondering..... Whats happening to him. Could it be syringomyelia? Can it occur in later life? It seems to be apparent that it could be.
I want to say that our cav is not overweight or anything and has always been at the right weight so much so that everyone who meets him thinks he is a puppy.
Whats going on?
Last edited by ZigsBro; 15th November 2013 at 08:57 PM.
15th November 2013, 08:35 PM
I would also like to add that our cav also has picked up this habit of suddenly going to lick his paws really quick while standing. Just thought id throw that out there.
16th November 2013, 07:40 AM
Im so sorry your little guy has been having health problems. It's not an easy thing to go through. You have definitely come to the right place, everyone here is wonderful and so supportive. This community of Cavalier lovers has been a tremendous support to me and my sweet Shiloh. She is 2 years old and has SM. I only know of our experience, and Shiloh has been suffering deeply. We are putting her down tomorrow morning because of what this horrible disease has done to her. We are heartbroken. But I can't tell you enough how wonderful everyone here on CT has been to us. Shiloh has angels from all over the world praying for her I'm sure they will be the same for you!
That being said, it's hard to know for sure if your pup has SM. I do think that he is displaying symptoms of SM and I commend you for being so proactive. If you are concerned about it at all, I would try and get some kind of health insurance for him if you haven't already, preferably before mentioning SM to a vet. Insurance companies usually won't cover things that are pre-existing. But, since he's been having so many issues, that may be a battle you've already faced.
Here is my advice. Do not take no for an answer. If you feel in your gut something is wrong, and the vet doesn't seem to be taking it seriously, demand help or find another vet. Next, take videos. As many as you can. Try and document any symptoms he has with video, so that a vet has something tangible to go on. Our sweet cavaliers are usually on their best behavior while at the vet and sometimes this is deceiving for the vet we are trying to convince. Even if the videos are short and don't seem to add up to much, they are pieces to a puzzle that is hard to put together. They may eventually lead to a diagnosis by an informed vet. Then again, he may not have SM, but unfortunately, SM is very common in cavaliers. And as far as I know, it can happen later on in the dogs life. I'm no expert, I only know Shiloh's experience, but I think you may need a new vet. We went through the same thing. I fought for 2 years to try and find her a diagnosis. That lead to me doing my own research and lead me here, which obviously you are here too! And I can't give you high fives enough! You're a great mom and you WILL find answers because you are determined to help him! Great job! And keep pushing until you find what you need. Good vets are out there and the others on the forum in the UK can lead you to the best! I'm in the states so I'm no help there
You will want a referral to a nuerologist. They are the ones who will be able to help him best. No matter what the outcome is, if he has SM or doesn't, you want to know AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. If he does have it, or even CM, you'll want to start treatment as soon as possible. I can't reiterate this enough. Early treatment makes all the difference. If he doesn't have it, at least you'll have peace of mind
Im sorry my post is so long. I think I'm trying to deal with my grief about losing Shiloh tomorrow. I just want to help others if I can in some way. I would never want anyone else to go through what we've gone through with her. But I'm not alone in my grief. Cavaliers are suffering everywhere I've been posting on the forum for a few months so if you want to read her story you can.
Im sending all the love in the world, and rooting for you and your dog. Whats his name? Whats your name? Please keep us posted and ask any questions you need to. You've joined a great family here keeping fingers crossed for you!
16th November 2013, 07:49 AM
Also wanted to mention, since every dog is different, and there are different levels of severity that a dog with SM may experience, it's important to take note of ANY symptom that could be a clue. No matter how small it may seem. SM is a very serious and painful disease, and its symptoms can be deceiving, especially in the beginning. Shiloh in the beginning had many episodes that were immediately followed by normal behavior. It can be a tricky thing at first.
You are doing the right thing. You're in the right place. And I believe he needs to see a neurologist.
16th November 2013, 08:32 AM
I'm sorry to hear about your concerns for your boy. Sadly your vet is incorrect, dogs can start showing symptoms at any age. Many symptoms are excesses of normal behaviors eg all dogs scratch so guardians have often been seeing symptoms for years without realising it.
"He also does this rather unusual thing around the house sometimes in which he trys to scratch his ear while walking. He pulls this funny face and walks really weird with one of his back legs failing to reach his ears. This to me combined with some of the other issues sounds like syringomyelia but the vet said that older dogs cant get it if they didnt have any issues in their youth which he didnt.
Another thing is that his paw licking has gotten far far more excessive than usual. He usually licks his paws obsessively but we just tell him to stop and he does. But recently in the past 2 weeks (I think anyway) his paw licking has escalated to pretty much all the time. If hes awake, hes doing it. Both his paws will be wet the chances are.. "
Both are signs that would raise an alarm for me, and are on the symptom list. However there are other possibilities eg PSOM and allergies.
I would ideally see another vet and ask for an urgent referral to a neurologist. An MRI scan is the definitive diagnostic tool for CM/SM, together with a consultation with a neurologist. This is usually in the region of 1800 - 2000 GBP, I'm hoping your boy is insured?
If this is not possible, then even just a consultation with a neurologist should give you a diagnosis (MRI scan can rule out other conditions) and costs around 150 - 200 GBP. They would be able to advise on medication. You are entitled to request a consultation with a specialist and/or a second opinion.
Whether you change vets or not, you can print off information to take to your vets from
See also http://www.veterinary-neurologist.co.uk (there is a treatment algorithm - very useful to give to your vet)
http://www.cavaliermatters.org Easy to understand, well presented information with lots of beautiful photos and cartoons
http://cavalierhealth.org/syringomyelia.htm in depth information and the latest research
As Dre says, you will need to become your dog 's advocate and educate yourself about the condition. The vet is a partner in the care of your beloved companion...
Please keep us posted on how he is doing.
16th November 2013, 12:57 PM
LuckyStar, I am so sorry about your poor cav . Thank you very much for the information you have all provided. His name is Ziggy and he is insured (thank god!) which is good. He has the best insurance we were able to find since him being a puppy.
Thank you for all the information on SM and CM. I can see your point about it being an allergy. But we have tried everything to stop it if this is the case. The vets have given him tonnes of medication to get rid of the issues that they claim to be an allergy and an ear infection. Do you think this might be the case? Hes on his 3rd corse of anti biotics and he has just finished his Loxicom. (Are anti biotics and Loxicom the same thing? I thought Loxicom was the pain killer or something? ) We have made sure to wash clothes and bedding with non bio but thats not doing anything. These issues are still present when hes away from the house too.
When he did what he did yesterday it was really weird because his face went all strange (like the left side only) and his front paws violently rubbed toward his face like it was really painful or something? But it seemed like in some sort of weird way it was out of his control. Then after that he jumped off my moms lap his left back and front (i think) went all lame and he limped to his kitchen bed. After that he walked fine. For the rest of the day he was pretty fidgety and couldnt settle in one place for more than 30 minutes. In my opinion, after all the medication he has had, surely it would have cleared up if it was something other than SM or CM or POSM? He seems ok today but to be safe im gonna have him up in my room today (thats where my office is) so I can keep an eye on him to see how things go.
The vets did mention on our second trip there that it might be deferred pain but im not too sure about that.
Along with his ear infection he did also have a penile infection like mentioned in the post. The anti biotics cleared it up and sorted it up until the past few weeks where the issue has reappeared. Its like this really really dark green stuff stuck on his privates. Not sure whats going on with that.
He also shakes his head quite a bit recently. We will be taking him for another appointment at the vets very soon. In the meanwhile I will try and have my phone at the ready to film any abnormal things he may be doing. I have some video footage of him licking his paws last night which wasnt as bad as it was earlier yesterday. Earlier yesterday he was licking his paws really obsessively (it seemed more obsessive some how) so much so that I couldnt distract him from it. At the time of doing this he was lying next to me so I tried to push his head away from his paws to see how compulsive it was and he was pressing his head down really really hard to lick his paws. This was about 15 minutes before that seizure like episode he had with the left side of his body going all weird.
When I sumorised all his symptoms and compared him to the CavalierHealth SM chart I got a stage 1. No neck pain yet..
I did leave out that he does do this really deep ear scratching on his left ear. Which is something I have seen in loads and loads of Youtube videos of SM cavs and it looks exactly like when Ziggy does it. He also groans when doing it (not in pain but from like a pleasurable groan) and these scratching episodes would last probably around 15 seconds.
I have also just been looking through my phone for some videos of him which may display some SM symptoms. There is this one video of which where is lying on the bed barking (it sounded like a play with me kind of bark) while doing a bit of rolling on the bed. It was trickuy to make out wether or not he was just playing about with me or if it was him displaying symptoms of SM.
Not all that sure.
Another thing I should probably mention is that his face looks fine. I have noticed in some SM cavs that their face has some sort of a painful wrangled look which Ziggs doesnt. Hes got a typical droopy cav face.
Ah, and a couple more more details I left out!
Sometimes, when sitting down his head will very very slightly bob up and down. Its very suttle. He still responds and everything but its usually when hes really relaxed? That might not have anything to do with anything but just thought id throw that in there.
He does this rolling and face rubbing only usually after eating but now hes starting to do it randomly.
Yesterday after his seizure like episode his back legs occasionally went lame about 3 times. The one time it was like his 2 back legs couldnt keep him up and he collapsed into the sit position. I saw him do this twice.
Anyway, Il keep you guys updated if anything else happens.
Last edited by ZigsBro; 16th November 2013 at 02:07 PM.
16th November 2013, 03:15 PM
This was filmed before we had all the issues we have now which is why I thought he was playing. Looking back now I realise this might not be the case.
By the way, here is a Photo of him when he was about 2 years old. Im including this to give you a good idea of what his face looks like as I know its a contributing factor on judging what stage they are at in SM.
That was when he was 2 though. Il upload a later photo later on.
Last edited by ZigsBro; 16th November 2013 at 03:35 PM.
30th November 2013, 01:35 PM
Hi everyone! Has anyone got a verdict as to whats going on with our Ziggy? Thanks!
There is one thing that has happened since this thread which is his back and front legs are going lame ever so often where his front left leg will slip and he sort of limps around on it for a few minutes.
30th November 2013, 04:26 PM
It seems like Ziggy really needs to see a neurologist. Have you asked your vet for a referral yet? He is definitely in some kind of pain and distress that really needs to addressed immediately.
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30th November 2013, 05:19 PM
I agree completely. We are just worried they might refer us *reluctantly* and because of the reluctance the insurance company might not pay out. Whats your advice on this? I have some videos of him obessively licking his paws and walking weirdly which I havent shown the vets yet and I will upload later on for research here.
What would be seen as the distress? (Its a stupid question I know but I need to be able to elaborate to the vets as clearly as possible)
I have also noticed he wont sleep in one place for longer than 30 minutes. Or he wont stay up on my lap for more than 15 minutes where as years ago hed have spent hours. He also now walks round with wet paws most the times due to the fact he was licking them obsessively.
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