19th June 2014, 09:52 PM
The SM Fear
I never wanted this day to come.
Since we got Lola as an 8wk old puppy, we knew SM was a possibility. We pushed it to the back of our minds. She always has a tender little front right leg/shoulder and would yelp if you picked her up wrong. She had some issues as a pup with intestinal blockages,and we got through all of that unscathed.
Now Lola is 3. She's a happy girl and loves life. I moved away 18m ago for work, and she lives with my mum. I miss her terribly. Today my mum called me to say that she didn't want to tell me about she thinks Lola has SM. Our vet has been useless, so she's seeking a 2nd opinion tomorrow. She's had a 'sore leg' with a small limp which comes and goes for a fe weeks. Vet said it was 'just a Sprain' since it comes and goes. Mum says she's frightened to jump onto the couch/bed now and I'll wait to be lifted. She's usually an active little thing, but mum says she's sleeping a lot more than usual(she's always like her sleep but this is apparently excessive). Mum has also noted some air scratching and says sometimes when u stroke her back/neck, she'll yelp.
Im sorry if this doesn't make sense. It's all just pouring out. Mum told me of her suspicions 20min ago and my world has come crashing down. I don't want my baby to be in pain or suffer. I hate to think this has been going on under my nose and we didn't see it. I can't stop sobbing. I'll update when I know more. Thank you.
19th June 2014, 10:30 PM
One of the most difficult aspects of CM/SM is the wide range of symptoms - many of which particular dogs will never have (my Aled has never air scratched, for example, or yelped). CM/SM can look like other conditions, other diseases can look like SM, and it is very easy to miss symptoms. The symptoms you describe could also apply to disc problems in the spine, which are common in Cavaliers and make jumping painful and the dog will lie still (and go to sleep) in order to avoid pain. So before you decide the worst, you really need to take Lola to see a neurologist; GP vets are not specialists and they have to know something about a wide range of animal diseases. A specialist will be able to make a more informed diagnosis, will probably suggest an MRI scan as the only sure way of diagnosing CM/SM, and if Lola does have it, will work with you on finding the best medication/treatment for her. I think Karlin will be able to recommend a neurologist in N Ireland. Some of them require a referral from your vet.
Many Cavaliers with CM/SM are helped by medication to live more or less normal, happy lives, so please don't see it as a death sentence. Lola relies on you to fight her corner and get the best treatment you can for her. One small immediate thing you could do is get steps to help her up and down on the couch - the online pharmacy Hyperdrug do good ones at a reasonable price if you look on their website. You will find a lot of help and support on this forum, many of us have experienced the shock of suspecting the worst, but once the initial sadness is over, you need to come out fighting on Lola's behalf!
Kate, Oliver and Aled (both with CM/SM)
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19th June 2014, 10:56 PM
Thank you so much for taking the time to read and reply.
My mum is talking her to some 'super vet' tomorrow who we've heard awesome things about, and hopefully will get the MRI sorted. As for the stairs etc, we are lifting her at the moment, we have a low level footrest thing which she sometimes jumps on the sofa via, but she's not even keen to do that right now. I'm praying it's not SM/CM, but I think the fact I worked in human neuro so understand the biology of these conditions makes it worse. I can't bear to think of her suffering. Human pain I can handle, animal pain i can't. She relies on us to be her advocate, and I will fight to the end of the earth for her, I just hate to think this has been going on a while and we did nothing. Beating myself up right now I guess.
20th June 2014, 12:19 AM
Don't beat yourself up. As Kate says the symptoms can be so varied. The good thing is you have a sense of what is going on and are taking the next step. My Leo starting showing symptoms around age 2 and he's still with me at 10.5, having led a life of fairly normal activity, managed on medications all this time. Many cavaliers can be managed in this way.
I can't remember if there are MRIs done in the North -- I think there are in Belfast. You'll probably need a referral to a specialist as most vets really do not know much about the condition or how to manage over time, with changes to meds etc. There are a couple of places where you can get an MRI if needed in the Republic, though I would only use UCD Vet School in Dublin and none of the other places that offer them in Dublin. There's a slo a good service in Cork.
Be sure the vet knows of Clare Rusbridge's website which has info for vets and a treatment algorithm, if it is determined that this is SM.
Sadly the reality with the breed is that more than half of cavaliers over 5 will eventually have SM so the chances are always more likely than not that any given cavalier will develop it. For most of these dogs symptoms may be too mild to even notice or they may be symptomless on a clinical exam. For symptomatic dogs there are treatment options. The difficulty is always the uncertainty of where things will go.
But the most important thing is to be aware, as you and your mother clearly are, and then to act when you have suspicions, which you are doing, and get your dog whatever help she needs.
My advice from experience of having five of 6 cavaliers now with some degree of CM/SM is, worrying a lot just stresses you out but doesn't help your dog. You are doing all the right things. Hopefully you'll be able to get Lola a lot more comfortable on some meds and have her jumping on and off sofas again in no time.
In memory: My beautiful Jaspar
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21st June 2014, 12:36 AM
Hi ladies. Lola was taken to an awesome vet today, who manipulated her within an inch of her little life, rotated her neck, legs etc and she didn't make a peep. Typical haha. He was saying that all the symptoms sound like SM, but nothing could be confirmed without MRI. He said he was reluctant to commence her on any meds until it's confirmed. She's been referred to Earlswood vets which was also recommended to me via a private message here, were she'll have an MRI in the next 2wks, bit of a wait. Apparently he thinks if she has it, it's a mild case which is reassuring. Also he was telling mum that some vets don't believe in SMs existence. Whhaaaat!? Also something I'm pissed about, Lola has what our original vet said was 'just an ear infection', but it turns out she's a really bad case of ear mites. Not impressed they missed that. This new vet is wonderful, mum got a good vibe from him, and he didn't even charge for today's consultation. I'm feeling a little better now, and today was a good day for Lola in that there was no yelping or anything thank god. Just gotta stay positive and deal with everything as it comes.
21st June 2014, 04:20 PM
That sounds really positive and looks as if Lola is in good hands. Well done!
Kate, Oliver and Aled
23rd June 2014, 12:24 AM
Sorry I've not had a chance to catch up for the past few days, as I've been very busy with other thins, so I apologise for not seeing and replying to your thread earlier.
Every Cavalier is different and also every collection of Cavaliers owned and loved by one household, so I'm pleased to say that my experience of Cavaliers with SM has been quite the opposite to Karlin's. I have four Cavaliers and only one has SM, for which I am truly thankful. Having said that, I was like you absolutely devastated when I took one of my boys for a routine MRI scan which showed a very large syrinx, CM and curvature of the spine. Symptoms only appeared a couple of years later, which suitable medication keep under control for most of the time. I would be dishonest if I said all of the time, because I am human and fallible and sometimes miss a sudden and iminent change in air pressure, which will be sure to require extra medication. Even then, it really doesn't take long to bring the symptoms under control, not that I am making excuses for myself, quite the opposite in fact.
The 2 other boys I had MRI'd 3 years ago for my own peace of mind so that I could have a fair idea of what the future held for me and them. Fortunately, although it's no guarantee, both scans were clear.
As Kate has just said, it definitely looks as if Lola is in good hands.
Keep us updated please.
Flo & the ByFloSin Cavaliers
Winston Alexander,Little Joe & Holly Poppet
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23rd June 2014, 01:05 AM
When we got Lola, we knew nothing of health issues cavvies could suffer, nor of SM. She was an accidental litter, from a family with 2 males and a female cav. The family thought the boys were 'gay' and then suddenly after 4yrs, the girl was pg, and Lola and her brother and sister entered the world. I stated researching cavaliers as soon as we got her, and knew quite a lot about SM so knew what to look out for. I guess I've always worried about it but thought 'it won't happen to us.' Now that it probably is, the guilt I feel is overwhelming. The fact that I moved away for work and left her. I left her with mum, and I know she gets spoilt rotten. I know it'd be unfair of me to have brought her away with me, and that's she's happy and loved, but still,the fact that I'm not there through this hurts me so much. My poor little baby. I know that meds can make it liveable and control symptoms, but it's just so unfair that it should happen at all. Think I might be moving into the anger stage of grief now. Sorry to rant, just need to vent. Thank you for listening and giving such good advice ladies. X
24th June 2014, 07:01 PM
Lola is having a bad day today according to my mum. She's awaiting MRI next Tuesday(pretty quick thankfully). Apparently she hasn't eaten a bite all day, is yelping on movement a lot and is stuck to my mum like a sticking plaster. Laying on the couch, not wanting to move. Mum says she's even been trembling on and off. Watching her closely tonight, and may take her to out of hours. I'm working nights in a&e this week, and all I want is to go home to belfast to my baby. .
25th June 2014, 12:08 AM
It really sounds as if Lola has deteriorated and is in a lot of pain. She needs medication, preferably a neuropathic pain killer like gabapentin.
A week is much too long a time to leave her in such discomfort, and pain relief will not change whatever it is they will find on the MRI.
If she was mine I would go back to the vet and ask for something to keep her comfortable while waiting for the scan.
Cavaliers......Faith, The Ginger Tank and Woody.
Japanese Chins.... Dandy, Benny, Bridgette and Hana.
Remembered with love......... Tommy Tuppence and Fonzi