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What is Syringomyelia (SM)?

The breeds that are most often affected include the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and Griffon Bruxellois, but other breeds have been reported as well. Some of these breeds are the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Boston Terrier, Havanese, Affenpinscher, Pomeranian, Papillon, Chihuahua, Yorkshire Terrier, and Maltese Terrier. This is a serious disorder that needs to be addressed by a veterinary professional right away.

Syringomyelia (SM) in dogs is a common condition that mostly affects Griffon Bruxellois and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, leading experts to believe it is an inherited disorder. The nature of this disease is that the dog’s skull is too small for his brain, which blocks the opening at the base of the skull and prevents the flow of spinal fluid. Because of this backup of fluid, pockets of fluid called syrinxes are created in the spinal cord which causes extreme pain in the shoulders, neck, head, and chest. They are usually very sensitive to touch in these areas and some dogs show weakness of extremities and possible paralysis.

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Symptoms of Syringomyelia (SM) in Dogs

The signs of syringomyelia depend on the stage of the disease and age of your dog. In fact, some dogs with mild SM may never have symptoms and the only way you will know about the condition is if your dog has to get an MRI for a different reason. However, the most commonly reported symptoms include:

  • Extreme sensitivity to touch in the neck, chest, shoulders, head, and back
  • Holding head high and at a certain angle to prevent pain
  • Sleeping with head held up
  • Whining and yelping for no obvious reasons
  • Phantom scratching (scratching about an inch or two from the head)
  • Weakness of the extremities
  • Inability to play or walk
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Paralysis
  • Seizures

Types

There are several types of SM, which include:

  • Grade 0 - Normal (with no syrinx or pre-syrinx and is not dilated)
  • Grade 1 - Central canal dilation (CCD) under two millimeters
  • Grade 2 - Syringomyelia (has CCD of more than 2 millimeters and a pre-syrinx or syrinx)

In addition, each grade includes a letter corresponding with the dog’s age because SM is a progressive condition. The letters include:

  • A - more than five years old
  • B - three to five years old
  • C - one to three years old

Causes of Syringomyelia (SM) in Dogs

The cause of SM is thought to be hereditary although this disease is not completely understood yet. It seems to affect certain breeds most often, which include:

  • Pomeranians
  • Staffordshire Bull Terriers
  • Shih Tzus
  • Boston Terriers
  • French Bulldogs
  • Yorkshire Terriers
  • Maltese Terriers
  • Chihuahuas
  • Miniature Dachshunds
  • Miniature Poodles
  • Bichon Frisés
  • Pugs
  • Pekingese
  • Miniature Pinschers
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
  • Griffon Bruxellois
  • Havaneses
  • Affenpinschers

Diagnosis of Syringomyelia (SM) in Dogs

The most effective way to diagnose SM is an MRI scan of the spinal column and brain. Your dog will need to be put under general anesthesia during the procedure and will be given oxygen and fluids. The results should indicate pockets filled with spinal fluid throughout the spinal column if your dog has SM. First, your veterinarian will need to do a thorough physical examination including palpation and auscultation, vital signs, and a complete body condition score.

Also, you need to provide the veterinarian with your dog’s medical history and the most recent symptoms you have noticed. Afterward, the veterinarian will perform some blood tests such as a serum biochemical analysis and complete blood count (CBC). Urine and stool samples will be collected for microscopic analysis as well. Then, your veterinarian will do the imaging including x-rays, ultrasound, CT scans, and MRIs.

Treatment of Syringomyelia (SM) in Dogs

Treating SM depends on the stage of the disease and age of your dog. The most important objective is to relieve the pain that your dog is experiencing. This may include surgery or medication as well as physical therapy in some cases.

Surgery

Cervical or cranial decompression is done to remove part of the bone that is blocking the spinal column. This procedure is successful about 80% of the time. However, in some cases (25% to 50%), the syrinx causes it to become blocked again and the symptoms will return. This can be due to the scarring or the regrowth of the syrinx.

Medication

There are a few drugs that can help with pain, swelling, and reduction of spinal fluid production. Pain medications include narcotics and NSAIDs, steroids to reduce swelling, and diuretics or omeprazole to reduce the production of spinal fluid.

Physical Therapy

There are several types of therapy that can help your dog, which include aqua therapy and massage therapy. Your veterinarian can teach you how to do these yourself or you can take your dog to special physical therapy classes.

Recovery of Syringomyelia (SM) in Dogs

If your dog was treated with surgery, you will need to be very observant for a few weeks while he heals. Provide plenty of fresh water because hydration is essential. You should also keep your dog as calm as possible, placing your dog on cage rest when needed. Call your veterinarian if you have any concerns or questions.

Syringomyelia (SM) Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Penny
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
20 Weeks
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

scratching

Medication Used

none

I have a 4.5 moth od king charles that keep scratching herself. I am now nervous she has the disease. If she does, can she survie and how do I test it? Thanks in advance.

Anna

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2950 Recommendations
The diagnostic method of choice for syringomyelia is to take an MRI which makes it easy to visualise the brain and spinal cord to make a diagnosis; there are management options available depending on the severity of the condition. Other causes of scratching may be caused by allergies, parasites, infection or other disorders not as severe as syringomyelia; in any case you should see your Veterinarian to investigate the cause of the scratching. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.ufaw.org.uk/dogs/cavalier-king-charles-spaniel-syringomyelia

my ckc died on Saturday night frankie had all those symptoms he could not breath the vet was treating him with vetmedin ,nelio,and frusenade for heart failure he had this breathing problem and a cough .the last week he seemed to be going into a trance he was just 8 years old and I miss him so much my baby

So sorry about your dog. It is heart breaking to see them suffer. I am in the same dilemma as my CKC deteriorates from this wretched disease, as she is 12 years old I know there is now nothing that can be done for her so I have upped her dose of gabapentin and it is helping, she is now on 3x tablet per day, it is kill or cure I suppose. She has seriously gone down hill since her sister passed on the 1st of March.

Is anyone able to respond to my question? My cavalier has been on omeprazole for 9 days and we haven’t noticed any improvement. Also she has been on an increased dose of Gabapentin for 4 days and again no improvement. She has lost some use of her back legs, one side. ore than the other. She keeps asking for me to pick her up and put her on the sofa but she goes for me if I try to lift her so I can’t. Will the omeprazole eventually help eg How long should I expect it to take before I know if it’s helping? I’m really concerned about my old lady and am at a loss as to what else to do.

My cavalier was diagnosed with SM about 8 years ago and until the last few months gabapentin managed to control it, However she seems to be in a lot of pain and is snapping at me when I go near her, Her back legs keep collapsing. I don’t want to put her thro surgery as she has lots of other issues which are under control inc pancreatitis etc. Are there any wonder drugs she can have or do I need to out her to sleep. She has been really poorly for 48 hours now and my vet suggests a neurologist but I can’t put her thro surgery and likewise I can’t leave her like this. I’m just asking in case anyone has a miracle I can try.

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Tob
Beaglier
4 Months
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

biting paws, yelps some,
biting paws, yelps some
biting paws

does having a beagle/cavalier spaniel reduce the risk of syringomyelia? He is 4 months and has started biting paws and sometimes yelp when picked up. I am concerned as i had never heard of this. He is on grain free diet

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2950 Recommendations
As far as I am aware, a cross bred Cavalier has the same chance of developing syringomyelia than the pure breed, but the more genetic diversity the better. Chewing of the paws may be due to food allergies, so this would need to be ruled out; dogs do not require grain free food and are just as likely to have issues with meat than with grains. Anyway, I would rule out food allergies before looking into expensive testing for syringomyelia. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Maggie
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
1 Year
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Rubbing Face

How do you know what is normal and when to be concerned? My cavalier sometimes rubs her face on the floor or her body along the couch or wall. Not all the time, just occasionally. She doesn't act like she's in pain.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2950 Recommendations
Rubbing the face against the floor, phantom scratching of the neck (looks like scratching but not) and other symptoms are characteristic of syringomyelia especially in a breed like Cavalier King Charles Spaniel which has an incidence of over 50% of dogs affected (even more depending on the literature quoted - 70% of dogs affected by six years of age). Medical management and surgical options are available but should be discussed with your Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.ufaw.org.uk/dogs/cavalier-king-charles-spaniel-syringomyelia

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Duggu
Labrador
4 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Shaking

I don't think that he has some kind of pain all I can see is he can't walk....will those medicines which you prescribed(steroids,NSAID'S,OMEPRAZOLE,DIVREYICS,NARCOTICS) will work in making him move/walk?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1375 Recommendations
Sashrika, I am not sure that he will walk, no. Syringomyelia is a progressive condition, and doesn't tend to get better. Those are just medications that are commonly used to try and treat the condition - your veterinarian would be able to tell you more if they were going to help, as each case is individual, and I cannot examine Duggu. If there is any treatment that will help, those may be the medications to have your veterinarian prescribe, but I am not sure that any of them will help him walk after 4 years. You may be able to have physical therapy for him to try and strengthen his muscles, if there is a possibility of that.

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Taffy
King Charles Spaniel
5 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

scratching
Rubbing Face
Snoring

My Cavalier, Taffy, will be 6 in August. She constantly rubs her face on the floor and scratches all the time. Her snoring has become worse and scares me at times that she is having trouble breathing. I am concerned about syringomyelia after watching a video of a Cavalier with it and it looks exactly like my Taffy's behavior. We have tried everything....treatment for ear infections, food allergies, injections for allergies. Nothing has helped. She does not have any skin rashes or fleas/ticks.
I have an appointment for her next week with a Neurologist. What kind of therapy can I do at home to help alleviate any pain she might be having? Someone mentions physical therapy/massage?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2950 Recommendations
The majority of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels will develop syringomyelia by six years of age, but the severity varies between cases; long-term prednisolone and furosemide treatment are the best methods of medical management and some cases may require surgery. However, you shouldn’t be planning any treatment until you see the Neurologist and get their diagnosis. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.ufaw.org.uk/dogs/cavalier-king-charles-spaniel-syringomyelia

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Echo
King Charles Spaniel
2 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

I am so scared. I have a King Charles named Echo. Just a week ago she was walking fine and then she started loosing control of her front left leg.. now it's nearly useless. She has been take to the Vet, to the Surgeon and to the Numerologist. An MRI has been done there are some signs of a fluid build up. The gabapentin doesn't seem to be having any effect. It worked for the first day and since then has done nothing to help. She is now on 200mgs x3 a day. Can anyone comment on the success of the surgery or offer an insight in other forms of medications. Once the pain medication is changed how soon should expect to see a result.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2950 Recommendations
Syringomyelia is a condition which affects over half of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels by the age of six years. Medical management is normally attempted first in these cases may may include pain relief, omeprazole and diuretics (furosemide) aimed at reducing fluid accumulation; surgical management has a high success rate of reducing fluid pressure, but quality of life may still be impacted. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.vin.com/apputil/content/defaultadv1.aspx?pId=11349&catId=34773&id=5328340&ind=370&objTypeID=17 www.ufaw.org.uk/dogs/cavalier-king-charles-spaniel-syringomyelia

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ma
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
puppy
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

I have always wanted a Cavalier but could not afford the price. My local shelter has 3 and I am assuming they are from the same litter. They are mixed with Shih Tzu. After reading about Syringomyelia I am questioning whether or not I should adopt. I have a big heart for dogs but not a big bank account. I am a senior and have 3 other dogs. What recommendations would you suggest?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2950 Recommendations
Syringomyelia is a condition that many first time owners are not aware of until the symptoms start to present, the only diagnostic test is with an MRI; if you live in the UK you can check with Rupert’s Fund to see if they will scan Ma, but would do so at an older age. Some studies put prevalence at 50% or even 70% of Cavalier King Charles Spaniel’s affected. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.rupertsfund.com

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Olivia
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
15 Months
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Pain When Lifted
Pain

My 15 mo old CKCS is thought to have SM by her symptoms which include severe crying spells, rolling upside down while biting her feet, yelping when picked up at times. She takes gabapentin 3x a day. She also takes Keppra for seizures which are not known if related to SM. She now has a fluid pocket above her right shoulder. It is the size of a quarter. Could this be a pocket of spinal fluid? She does not seem to be in pain if I touch it. It is soft and seems to slide around as I touch it.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1375 Recommendations
It would be unlikely to have a pocket of spinal fluid over her shoulder, as those two areas don' t connect. Since I can't see her, though, and don't know what the fluid might be, if it does not resolve, it would be a good idea to have her veterinarian take a look at it to make sure that it is nothing to worry about.

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Mocha
Pekingese
2 Years
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

see above

My 2 yr old Pekingese has recently had two bouts of what seems like phantom scratching - though his shape makes it difficult to actually reach his head or ear with the back foot so maybe he actually had an itch! Both times it started after he had been running and playing with his toys. He sort of plopped down after. I palpated all around his spine, legs, neck and head and massaged to see if there was any pain or tender area. There was not. He has also been reluctant to take a walk though it’s been hot so there aren’t many opportunities so it’s not a common routine that we do. He was a champion showdog who wasn’t crazy about showing so his very experienced very reputable breeder allowed me to adopt him. His lineage has no history of the disease but, to be honest, the breeder said she’d never heard of a Pekingese with it. Am I being paranoid or should I be worried?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2950 Recommendations
The incidence of syringomyelia in Pekingese dogs depends on which textbook you reference, some mention Pekingese some don’t but I’ve not seen it diagnosed in a Pekingese. There are two conditions: syringomyelia and Chiari-like malformation which may cause phantom itching; but I would keep an eye on Mocha and visit your Veterinarian for an examination if you have any other concerns. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.veterinary-neurologist.co.uk/resources/info-on-cmsm-downloadable.pdf

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Charlie
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
6 Years
Moderate condition
1 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Paw licking

Medication Used

Gabapentin

Hi, my Cavalier Charlie was diagnosed with Syringomyelia in January 2017 at the age of just over 5 yrs old, she is on Gabapentin 3x daily but last couple of days she's seemed lethargic at times and doesn't want to walk far when we go out, she is also really licking her paws a lot, could this be linked to the condition ?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1375 Recommendations
The lethargy may be related to her condition, but I cannot see the licking of her paws being associated. It would be best to have a check up with your veterinarian, just to make sure that she is okay, since I cannot examine her. They will be able to examine her and suggest some treatments for her paws, as well.

I am sure that the paw licking is due to the pain, my CKC is 12 years old and developed syringmyelia just over 2 years ago, a rather advanced age for this condition. Gabopentine keeps her fairly pain free but for an hour or so beteen tablets she frantically licks her paws and cannot seem to walk, she also does a LOT of head rubbing at thse times too and has seriously damaged her left eye.

Thank you, the reason for asking about paw licking is because some people have said it can be related to pain and I wasn't sure.

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Hop
Brussels griffon
10 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

I took my dog to a neurologist today and for the first time heard about syringomyelia (S). She thinks he may have S and after reading about it, so do I. He is a 10-yr old Brussels Griffon, he began licking profusely 5 years ago, rubs his head against walls, furniture, head tilt, and over time problems w pain, walks funny, weak in his back legs. Developed diabetes this year and in Aug 2017 he was suddenly in so much pain he was hunched over and could barely walk. Took him to emerg vet on a Sunday and blood work normal so sent they him home w pain meds. Saw regular vet the following day and started him on Galliprant, but both the vet and I did not think he had very long to live. Within a few days, miraculously, he was back to his old self ...he has now developed cataracts and when I consulted w an Opthalmologist I learned he is blind in right eye but his retina is fine. Problem on optic nerve or in brain so the doctor doesn't want to remove the cataract in the left eye without knowing what's going on in the right eye. So today I saw a neurologist and heard about S for the first time. I can't afford the MRI and spinal tap. What are the options for treating him for the pain without confirming the disease? Today the doctor said there are options for diabetic dogs and mentioned cyclosporine and some other things I can't remember. I just want to help him with the pain that I now realize he has on an ongoing basis. And is cataract surgery on his left eye feasible or should I just focus on managing his pain and helping him enjoy his last years of life? I would appreciate any advice you could share to help me make a good decision for him.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2950 Recommendations
Syringomyelia is a relatively unknown condition but is quite common in Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and Griffon Bruxellois; pain management is usually the best course of action along with giving medication to reduce the amount of cerebrospinal fluid. Gabapentin is commonly used for pain (caution with diabetes) and omeprazole to reduce cerebrospinal fluid; your Neurologist which you spoke with today would be more knowledgeable and up to date on current treatments so you should check in with her. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Hop also started shaking a lot in the last year or so and my vet thought it might be related to the diabetes, but I see above that is a symptom of S ...

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Greta
Chihuahua
9 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Stiffening seizure then passes out

Medication Used

Prednisone,Gabapentin and Omeprazol

On Easter Monday 2018 My baby girl Greta who is 9 years old chihuahua and i were sitting on the couch...she was napping beside me as i drank my morning coffee then i heard her make like a gagging sound!!! I looked over at herand she was stiffening up!....then passed out! I was freeking out!!!
She had a seizure of sorts but i wasn't certain so i got my phone out and an i was ready to record it!
Sure enough she had 2 more in the span of 1 1/2 hours... so off we went to the vets... they were happy i had a video... they went on to send me to a specialist...i got the $750.00 blood work done so that i could proceed to get her an MRI $3100.00
It came back positive fo SM:(
They put her on Prednisone, Gabapentin and Omeprazole.
She seized when we were in bed the other night and fell onto the floor!!
My heart just about broke!
I said thats it!!
She's getting the operation!
She's scheduled for next week...To get a vetabrea removed and i was happy to see on your site that recovery is about 80% but my concern is will her head be dropping after or will she hold her head like before?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2950 Recommendations
Without examining Greta or reviewing the case files and MRI I cannot really give you a good indication of prognosis; your Specialist will be able to give you an accurate prognosis based on their findings and surgery plan. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Minette
Chihuahua
5 Years
Critical condition
0 found helpful
Critical condition

Has Symptoms

Pain

I have a five year old chihuahua. She recently started screaming when we touched her or tried to pick her up. This morning I picked her up to put her out for her morning potty and she screamed. When I put her down she would not use one of her front legs. Since this started she spends all her time in her bed. Her appetite is gone and we had to resort to a raw food diet to get her to eat. Our vet examined her, ran a series of blood tests and exrayed her spine. He found some deterioration in her lower spine but didnt think it would cause the type of pain she is in. I'm now thinking this is probably SM. We also have a full sister to her from a different litter. Since she was a puppy she has screamed when we pick her up too close to her front legs. I'm wondering if might have the same disorder but a milder case. Does this sound like both my girls have SM?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2950 Recommendations
A typical symptom of syringomyelia is pain when being lifted, especially if no other cause has been determined by x-ray; however it can be hard to make a diagnosis without having an MRI scan performed; there are various other symptoms like phantom neck itching (no actual contact) or face rubbing which may also be characteristic of the condition. Chihuahuas are also prone to other conditions like hydrocephalus among others which may cause unnecessary pain. It may be worth having a consultation with a Neurologist to help narrow in on a diagnosis. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Louis
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
14 Weeks
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Pain
Itching

I have a 14 week old cavalier Shih Tzu mix. I have noticed him scratching his neck a lot. I can’t tell if it’s phantom scratching or actual scratching. He usually scratches a lot when wearing his harness on walks. I have also noticed that occasionally when picked up he yelps in pain. This does not happen all of the time. I am able to pet him and apply slight pressure on his neck, shoulders, spine and near his rib cage. At first i thought he was crying due to being picked up the wrong way, but after reading about syringomyelia i am worried he may have this condition. He is very playful and has a good appetite, he is able to walk up and down the stairs and does a lot of running in the yard. I am so scared and i don’t know what to do. After reading the description of this disease it sounds to me like he has it.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1375 Recommendations
This condition is uncommon, and it is unlikely that Louis has the condition. If you are concerned, it would be best to have him examined by a veterinarian, as they will be able to assess his pain, his neurologic function, and determine if he has a problem. I hope that all goes well for him.

I am sure paw licking is associated with the pain from this disease, my 12 year old CKC was diagnosed last year with the horrible disease, yes pretty elderly to develop it, Gabopentine keeps her pain fairly well under control but just before her next dose she frantically licks her front paws and is very reluctant to walk, she also does a LOT of head rubbing and has seriously damaged her left eye because of this, she rubbed in the gravel. She has not got the classic air scratching symptom of the disease and because of this and her age she was diagnosed rather late.

I’m glad to hear it’s uncommon. That makes me feel so much better. I took him for a walk today and did not notice as much scratching as other times i took him for a walk. The Vet will not send him for MRI or CT until we rule out allergies.

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Tama
Griffon
7 1/2
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

My Griffin Tama licks his paws a lot. When walking he occasionally stumbles as his right front leg gives way. He just over 7 1/2 years old. He has recently stopped jumping, demanding to be lifted up. His appetite is good.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2950 Recommendations
Excessive licking of the paws may be due to food allergies or may be related to pain, if Tama’s legs are giving out or he isn’t wanting to walk as far as before you should have him checked by your Veterinarian to be on the safe side. Spinal issues, radial nerve damage among other conditions may also cause these symptoms. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Gabriel
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
3 Months
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

My dog scratches alot with the leash on but mot much with it off could this still be a sign because i read that this breed has a very high chance of getting sm?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2950 Recommendations
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are the poster dog for syringomyelia, the majority of dog in the breed are affected by age of six years. Typically we see phantom scratching of the neck among other symptoms, the collar may aggravate this so it may be good to switch to a harness in this instance. You should also visit your Veterinarian for a discussion about syringomyelia. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.ufaw.org.uk/dogs/cavalier-king-charles-spaniel-syringomyelia

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Molly
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
6 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Medication Used

Gabapentin

My 6 year old dog has SM and was diagnosed at 16 months by an MRI. Lately she is having mobility issues with her hind quarters (mostly left side as that is her sensitive side). She has also started with blood in her urine. She does not have a UTI or crystals. My question is what does the end of life look like for a dog with SM? Are these typical symptoms? Are we approaching the beginning of the end?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1375 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. Decreased mobility is a sign of this disease, as it is a progressive disease, but bloody urine is not typically seen with syringomyelia. An ultrasound of Molly's bladder may be a good idea to determine what is causing the bloody urine. Typically, dogs with SM continue to have problems with mobility and pain, to where their quality of life is no longer there. If she is generally comfortable and is affected with a less severe form, she may continue to maintain a quality of life that is acceptable for many years. I hope that all goes well for her.

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Nakuja
Rottweiler
Six Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Pain.

My Rottweiler was diagnosed with syringomyelia about eight months ago. I would like to find a vet that specializes in this surgery here in Southern California but even if I can’t find one locally I would be willing to take her anywhere in the US if the specialist thought that surgery could help her. Can you Recommend a veterinary surgery specialist for SM? Or tell me how to find the BEST one out there. My dog is a state registered service dog, she is my best friend/and family member. Thank you so much for your time.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1375 Recommendations
I might start by contacting veterinary schools and teaching hospitals, as that is where many uncommon procedures can be done. If there is a large surgical referral veterinary clinic near you, they may be able to perform the surgery as well. UC Davis is the veterinary school in California, and that would be a good place to start! http://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/vmth/small_animal/index.cfm

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Joey
King Charles Spaniel
5 years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Since Joey was a puppy he has always cried if picked up under his arms. Recently, he sometimes cries when jumping up and now rarely attempts to do this. He can still climb stairs, but does so slowly and carefully. Could this be a sign of Syringomyelia? As a side note, he is also mostly deaf and has been since a puppy.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2950 Recommendations
Syringomyelia has vague symptoms which may affect different dogs differently, however a common complaint is neck pain, back pain, trouble walking up the stairs among other symptoms; typically dogs will present with symptoms of syringomyelia within three years of age but the definitive diagnosis tool is an MRI. Phantom scratching of the neck is also a common sign in dogs with syringomyelia so that may be something to look out for; discuss with your Veterinarian about Joey’s symptoms. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Dahli
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
8 Years
Moderate condition
1 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Walking slightly uncoordinated.

My 8 year old Dahli a Cavalier King Charles spaniel has sm. Do medications for the reducing of the csf in the spine reduce symptoms of the disease or its progression? And how? Dahli at present is on no pain relief or other types of medication. He cant jump high onto things , weak back legs sore shoulders and neck an uncoordinated walk and coughs a lot. Should I put Dahli on medication? He loves a long walk everyday, is a beautiful dog and doesn't appear to be in excessive pain. What do you think I should do?. We've only adopted Dahli since last year.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1375 Recommendations
Medications for this condition are typically aimed at controlling pain, and Dahli may need to be on medication for that, from the signs that you describe for him. Some dogs are candidates for surgery to correct this condition, and it may be worth having a consultation with a specialty surgeon to see if he is a candidate. A good start would be a visit with your veterinarian, as they can assess him and recommend any pain control that he might need, and refer you to a surgeon if that is a route that you want to consider. I hope that all goes well for him.

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Chase
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
10 Years
Serious condition
0 found helpful
Serious condition

Medication Used

Gabapentin and Enalapril
Gabapentin

My Cavaler King Chales Spaniel is 10 years old. He has had Syringomyelia for several years. He is on medication. As he gets older will his medication have to change to keep he from having symptoms? Also, what is the life expectancy of dogs with Syringomyelia?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2950 Recommendations
With conditions like Syringomyelia, it is just a case of managing symptoms; if there is no change in Chase’s condition, there is no need to change the medication. If you start to notice new symptoms or you notice anything else concerning visit your Veterinarian for a review of medical management. As for life expectancy, there are variable sources published which quote between ten and eleven years; but they don’t take into account severity of individual cases or treatment given. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

can my cavalier live a normal life with sm

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Belle
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
6 Months
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

scratching

We have a 6 month old CKC and we are worried she may have SM. There is an area behind her left side neck that when touched her leg starts scratching. I’ve seen this is a symptom.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2950 Recommendations
Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are overrepresented with syringomyelia, the majority of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels will have this condition but whether or not they will present with symptoms is another question as some dogs are asymptomatic. Typically phantom scratching is a tell tale sign where a dog will scratch their neck but not actually make contact with the skin, but other symptoms may also be evident. You should have Belle checked by your Veterinarian if you’re having concerns. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Milo
King Charles Spaniel
18 Months
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

scratching

I have a 18 month old cavelier who sometimes scratches back of his neck then he starts bitting his back leg . Also he has screamed out several times
Without any reason as if in pain. No one was near him or touched him , vet has checked him over several times as said nothing is wrong with him

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1375 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. That is strange behavior, and it does seem that something is bothering him. Without examining him, I can't really comment on what might be going on, but it may be a neurologic problem, or a subtle pain that is hard to identify. One thing that might help is if you can catch the times when he is screaming, as your veterinarian may be able to see something subtle and help identify the cause of the screaming. I hope that his problem gets resolved soon!

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Holly
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
8 Years
Fair condition
1 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Air scratching and pain when being

My 8year old KC has just been diagnosed with Syringomyelia and has been put on medication, Gabapentin and Metacam. The first week and half she seemed back to her old self, but following on from that she has gone hill, she is very quite and seems to look spaced out and she has been sick a couple of times and her stools are very pale in colour. She has had Metacam before and has given her an upset stomach, could it be the combined medication that has upset her stomach ?
As she has to stay on this medication I am very worried it is doing her more harm than good. I would be grateful for your advice on this

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2950 Recommendations
A diagnosis of syringomyelia isn’t surprising in a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and it is a lifelong condition which is missed many times; gabapentin with other medications is commonly used in treatment but the pale stools may be due to either effects of medication but pale stool may also be attributable to bile duct disorders, liver disease among other causes. You should return to your Veterinarian for a follow up and to determine the cause of the pale stools. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Returned to our vets and Holly has been taken off all medication and was given anti sickness and pain killer injections. She has been slow to recover but has started eating again today, still not back to herself but getting there slowly. The Metacam upset her stomach and is now having a probiotic daily together with omepresle tablet. I think other owners should be warned about giving their dogs Metacam and the side effects it can cause.

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DUGGU
Labrador
4 Years
Moderate condition
1 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Shaking. Can't walk
Shaking

Respected sir/ma'am.
This is Sashrika from India. I really need your help..My dog is suffering from a genetic disease SYRINGOMYELIA- a canine neurological disorder. He can't move or walk from the past 4 yrs,if we try to make him walk by holding his harness then he can walk he needs great support for that..he can't walk on his own and keeps shaking his head all the time.. I don't think he has some kind of pain..faced this problem with him when he was 3 months old. Here in India doctors has said that there is no way in which he can be treated..some doctors even said to put him to sleep but I still have a hope that he can walk again.Pls tell me what best can I do.

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1375 Recommendations
Hi Sashrika, thank you for your email. I'm sorry that Duggu is affected by this disease. Treating SM depends on the stage of the disease and age of your dog. The most important objective is to relieve the pain that your dog is experiencing. This may include surgery or medication as well as physical therapy in some cases. Surgery is successful about 80% of the time. However, in some cases (25% to 50%), the syrinx causes it to become blocked again and the symptoms will return. This can be due to the scarring or the regrowth of the syrinx. There are a few drugs that can help with pain, swelling, and reduction of spinal fluid production. Pain medications include narcotics and NSAIDs, steroids to reduce swelling, and diuretics or omeprazole to reduce the production of spinal fluid. There are also several types of therapy that can help your dog, which include aqua therapy and massage therapy. Your veterinarian can teach you how to do these yourself or you can take your dog to special physical therapy classes. These are some things that you can discuss with your veterinarians, as they are able to see him and know more about his specific condition. You do want to make sure that he isn't suffering, above everything else. I hope that things go okay for him.

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Rosie
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
12 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Lame leg

Medication Used

gabapentin omeprazole tramadol pard

My cavalier was diagnosed 8 years ago with SM. 10 days ago she stopped being able to jump up and her rear legs went a bit lame. She is now on omeprazole and an increased dose of gabapentin. The latter has been for 5 days and the Omeprazole 9 days. Should I expect to see an improvement by now as we haven’t really noticed any so far? She keeps asking me to help her get on the sofa but she goes for me every time I try to help. She really doesn’t want me to pick her up. Any help or advice would be welcome. I can’t put her thro surgery as she’s too old and has too many other conditions which are well managed by medication eg pancreatitis in particular. She has a minor heart murmur too. She’s 12.5 years old.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2950 Recommendations
Syringomyelia and heart murmurs are very common in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and many people are not aware. Improvement can be slow to be seen and can be unrewarding in some cases, since the pressure build up is already present it is a case of waiting for the omeprazole to reduce the production of cerebrospinal fluid and for the effect to be noticed; the gabapentin should be helping with pain relief during this time. There is nothing else I can suggest, the appropriate medical management is being given and we have no surgical options available. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.ufaw.org.uk/dogs/cavalier-king-charles-spaniel-syringomyelia

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Gizmoe
Brussels griffon
11 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

back pain

I have an 11 year old Brussels Griffon. I have taken him to the vet several times and he has been prescribed muscle relaxers, Gabapentin, Rimadyl, etc.
Nights are the worst for him. He constantly jumps up and shakes off all through the night. I can't seem to get his dosage correct and am confused as to give him what and when. Does this sound like Syringomyelia? How can I make him comfortable?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1375 Recommendations
Without seeing Gizmoe or knowing what medications he has taken, and when, it is not possible for me to comment on how to help him, unfortunately. If he is not improving on the medications you mentioned, or you are having problems with the dosages, it would be best to follow up with your veterinarian to discuss that, or possibly get a second opinion to see if another veterinarian may have other ideas as to what is going on with him, or whether he needs further testing. I hope that he is okay.

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