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Thread: General newbie questions!

  1. #11
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    I thought as much. :C I've asked her for confirmation, but yeah. Sadly I will not be able to take him on if this is the case due to insurance not being able to cover it.

  2. #12
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    Ouch! A 'small syrinx' at 2 years old could be real trouble. Basically, what happens with CM/SM is that the majority of Cavaliers are born with Chiari Malformation, which brings the base of the skull in contact with the brain. There is some sort of genetic mismatch between the growth of the skull and the growth of the brain and there isn't enough space for the hind brain, so the cerebellum gets pushed down (herniated) into the top of the spinal cord. This slows down the flow of cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) around the brain. This fluid then collects in the spaces at the front of the brain (the ventricles), where it should turn round and flow back down to the spinal cord - an MRI scan will often show dilated ventricles, which is one reason why CM alone can cause pain. The other result of the slowing down of CSF is that little pockets of spinal fluid occur in the actual spinal cord - this is a syrinx. If a syrinx remains narrow, it may not cause much trouble, but if it widens it starts hitting the nerves carried along the wall of the spinal cord and you can imagine the results.

    Both my dogs have small syrinxes and are fairly comfortable on medication - gabapentin for neurological pain and a diuretic to reduce CSF in the skull. But 13-year-old Oliver is beginning to show more symptoms, so you can never say that you have completely controlled CM/SM for ever. Having said that, Oliver has had CM/SM for more than 7 years and it has never stopped him living a full and happy life. It's just so much a matter of luck.

    You can find more information about CM/SM on the Cavalier Matters website (www.cavaliermatters.org) and on the website of Dr Clare Rusbridge, one of the leading experts on CM/SM and its treatment (www.veterinary-neurologist.co.uk). Once you know more about it, you can then make a more informed decision as to whether you want to take on this dog or not. None of this is his fault (it sounds as if it probably isn't his breeder's fault either - CM/SM can still just happen even if you do all the scanning you should), but whether with you or someone else, he is going to need a caring, loving home that will look after him if the worst happens. But dealing with CM/SM isn't easy; you constantly worry about your dog and may be faced with hefty vet's bills - and the chore of pushing pills into your dog several times a day, day in and day out! But if my Oliver is anything to go by (and this is the experience of many people on this forum), you will also get a loving, happy and fun companion - Cavaliers really are the best, which is why the major diseases they have are such a tragedy.

    If you do decide to have him, ask the breeder for a copy of his MRI report and his scan photos and discuss everything with your vet (if he is clued up about CM/SM - not all vets are) or ask for a referral to a neurologist (your nearest is probably at Cambridge or the Animal Health Trust), who will be able to recognise any symptoms and advise about medication if it is needed. And always feel free to ask questions here.

    Kate, Oliver and Aled

  3. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nathus D Dorkus View Post
    Can anyone help me to decipher this?
    "He showed a small syrinx so I feel that a stud dog should be clear that is why I have had him neutered. All his other tests came back clear so as you can imagine I am gutted. He is such a typical cavalier. Very friendly and fun living."
    This is a dog that has Syringomyelia at 2.5 years. That is fairly early onset. You need to do a good bit of homework about SM and think carefully about what you may be taking on, both emotionally and financially, before you go ahead. Living with a SM dog that deteriorates quickly can be very distressing and expensive, especially as you will not be able to get insurance cover for the SM, as it is an existing condition.

    The problem with SM is that some dogs live without any pain symptoms for years, some deteriorate slowly and can be kept relatively comfortable on a changing cocktail of medication for much of their life. Others can deteriorate suddenly and their pain can be very difficult to control. A neurologist may be able to give some idea of the prognosis looking at the size and shape of the syrinx but no one can say for sure what the future holds for each affected dog.

    I have some sympathy for this breeder. She deserves all credit for checking her potential stud dog before using him and for removing him from her breeding programme when she found he had SM. It is a shame that she has not been more honest about his condition when rehoming him.

    What she is now doing is trying to pass on the responsibility for this dog to someone else. For a breeder such a dog becomes a liability, he is just taking up room in her home/kennel, but full disclosure of his SM status and the implications will discourage anyone from taking him off her hands for free, let alone paying for him. So she is open about the good health test results and does not mention the one result that is likely to have a really significant impact on his suitability as a pet.

    There are a lot of cavaliers being pushed round in pet strollers because SM or MVD makes it impossible for them to walk any distance. They are greatly loved but it is not what their owners' expected when they bought their family pet.

    Good luck whatever you decide to do.
    Margaret C

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

  4. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nathus D Dorkus View Post
    Can anyone help me to decipher this?
    "He showed a small syrinx so I feel that a stud dog should be clear that is why I have had him neutered. All his other tests came back clear so as you can imagine I am gutted. He is such a typical cavalier. Very friendly and fun living."
    Nathus, this is not good news. It is good and commendable that the breeder had him examined for syringomyelia (SM), and it is a good thing (and commendable) that she has disclosed to you that he has a syrinx. But it is not good news for the dog or for anyone who will be owning him. He has SM, and it may or may not get worse. I do not believe that there is any way to know now if it will or not, but SM is a "progressive" disease, meaning the syrinx likely will enlarge and more severely impact the spinal cord. If it does not get worse, he still may be in some pain and need daily medication for that. If it does get worse, he may need surgery in addition to the daily medication.

    I would consider taking him if the breeder agreed to cooperate financially in his future care for SM. But you need to realize what you are getting into. There are a few list-members here who have cavaliers with SM, and hopefully they will jump in here and add their thoughts to whether anyone new to the breed should start out knowingly taking an SM-cavalier. Here is a link to another webpage which discusses SM in the breed: http://www.cavalierhealth.org/syringomyelia.htm
    Rod Russell

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