Syringomyelia is a condition where the skull is too small for the brain and there is blockage to the flow of the CSF cerebrospinal Fluid. http://www.veterinary-neurologist.co.uk/ gives a better description and answers to common questions but since the fluid can not flow normally, there can be pressure that can even go down the spine. This is why some dogs may become paralyzed. Some researchers believe that SM is the leading health issue facing Cavaliers along with Mitral Valve Disease. Many Cavalier King Charles Spaniels have SM but never show any symptoms. They may scratch a little bit but overall they are mild. However, there are more severe cases, like Ella, that the pain becomes unbearable and they eventually need to be euthanized. There are two reasons I feel that it is important to bring awareness to this condition. The first is, each generation the severity is increasingly getting worse. There are researchers and breeders that are trying to eliminate or help the progression of this condition in this breed. Without knowing the family history, you don't know if this could be passed on to your puppy. The second reason I feel this is important is because I read about Syringomyelia so I knew what symptoms to look for.
One thing about Syringomyelia is that many of the symptoms can be misdiagnosed. Notice any change in behavior. These are some of the symptoms of Syringomyelia but not every dog has all of these symptoms.
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- Lethargic. Does not want to play like they used to. Maybe seem older than they are
- Scratching at their shoulders or neck.
- Scratching on their side. Usually on one side
- weakness in limbs
- painful when touched, especially in neck area. Does not seem to want to be touched there
- yelping for no reason
- lip-licking, feet licking,
- dullness in eyes
- head shaking, face rubbing
- prefer to have their head raised
- (bunny hop)
- withdrawal in a corner, under a table or bed
- gnawing or scratching at the bedding
- restless nights
- loss of bladder