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What’s Syringomyelia in a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel? Indicators, Causes, and Care

Syringomyelia (which we’ll abbreviate as SM) is a neurologic situation seen mostly in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. SM has been reported in different breeds (sometimes toy breed canine), nonetheless, Cavaliers are over-represented. This situation causes irregular pockets of fluid to develop throughout the spinal twine, sometimes throughout the neck. As a result of this situation is widespread in Cavaliers, as an proprietor or potential proprietor of this breed, you need to be conscious of what it’s, what to search for, and what therapies could also be accessible.

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What’s Syringomyelia?

Syringomyelia¹ is the event of fluid stuffed pockets, or cysts, throughout the spinal twine. Certainly one of these cysts is known as a syrinx. Syringomyelia is the presence of a number of syrinxes.

In Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, SM is often attributable to a congenital malformation of the cranium referred to as Chiari malformation. Usually, the underside again a part of the mind exits out the cranium via a gap referred to as the foramen magnum. That is the place the brainstem connects to the spinal twine. CSF, or cerebrospinal fluid, is the fluid that surrounds the mind, brainstem, and spinal twine, and aids in safety.

With Chiari malformation (CM), the foramen magnum is smaller than normal and the mind is commonly bigger than normal (or the cranium is smaller than normal). This can trigger the mind to compress within the space of the foramen magnum and spinal twine. This compression then causes the CSF to construct up abnormally. This build-up of fluid will then trigger the fluid stuffed pockets, or syrinxes, to develop.

If your Cavalier doesn’t have Chiari malformation however your vet is suspicious of SM, he/she might have a tumor or different abnormality inflicting this situation. Nonetheless, the most typical motive we see SM is secondary to Chiari malformation.

cavalier king charles spaniel dog scratching its neck
Picture Credit score: Csanad Kiss, Shutterstock

What Are the Indicators of Syringomyelia?

Mostly, house owners might discover their Cavalier attempting to scratch at their neck or appearing painful within the neck space. Oftentimes, house owners assume that their canine has an ear an infection as a result of they discover them rubbing and scratching on the neck and head. The ears must be checked for an infection by your common veterinarian. In the course of the bodily examination, your veterinarian might also discover ache on palpation, or shifting the neck, neck stress and/or spasms, weak spot of the limbs, and your canine holding their neck in what’s referred to as a impartial place.

Generally, the neck ache shall be extreme sufficient that your canine could randomly vocalize after they go to maneuver, lie down, and/or rise up. Usually, canine with neck ache have problem wanting up—subsequently, chances are you’ll discover that they gained’t go up and down stairs, and/or get on and off furnishings. Different instances, it could be painful on your canine to bend down—for example, they gained’t need to bend all the way down to get to their meals and water bowl. You might discover your canine standing there, staring straight forward, holding their head straight out. As an alternative of turning their head to have a look at you, they might flip their whole physique as a substitute, in order that they’re going through you.

What Are the Causes of Syringomyelia?

Except the situation is attributable to a tumor or different uncommon traumatic occasions, the overwhelming majority of syringomyelia instances are considered an inherited, genetic illness. Research are nonetheless pending on what precise genes could also be concerned, however outcomes to this point strongly counsel a genetic correlation. Chiari malformation can also be thought to have a genetic hyperlink.

The precise proportion of canine with CM that may progress to having syringomyelia is unknown. Some research do counsel upwards of fifty% of CM affected Cavaliers will develop syringomyelia. At present, there are ongoing research into the genetic hyperlinks of CM, SM, and what canine could have both or each situations.

SM just isn’t a situation attributable to food regimen, life-style, and/or drugs. Sometimes, the mixture of Chiari malformation with a breed predilection is required for SM to happen.

male hand scratching cavalier king charles spaniel dog
Picture Credit score: KatrinaToompere, Shutterstock

What Are Remedy Choices for Syringomyelia?

Remedy choices for SM are geared toward retaining your Cavalier comfy. Most canine shall be handled with ache drugs—mostly, a drugs referred to as Gabapentin that’s nice for nerve ache. Your veterinarian might need to strive completely different anti-inflammatories and/or ache medicine combos to seek out what works finest on your canine.

Sadly, SM can worsen and progress with time. Ache and anti inflammatory drugs that after labored might not work once more sooner or later. It’s essential that you simply routinely see your common veterinarian and/or a veterinary neurologist to finest management your canine’s ache.

In case your canine is having problem and/or ache after they transfer their neck up and down, placing some steps or a ramp main as much as the furnishings might assist them. You may as well elevate their meals and water bowls to a cushty peak, making bending all the way down to eat and drink extra comfy for them.

Neck braces are usually not really helpful. These can weigh your canine’s neck down, making it harder for them to get round. Placing a neck brace on might also add to the irregular sensations, itching, and/or “pings” of ache that your Cavalier might already be feeling. Please don’t buy any braces on-line or use wraps in any manner except instructed in any other case by your veterinarian.

Some canine who’ve SM secondary to Chiari malformation could also be a candidate for surgical procedure. Nonetheless, this can be a very specialised surgical procedure that your common veterinarian wouldn’t be able to performing. Solely a specialty-trained and board-certified neurologist or surgeon would be capable of display screen your pup, determine if they’re a candidate, and talk about dangers, success price, and price.

How is Syringomyelia Recognized?

The one definitive check for Chiari malformation and syringomyelia is with an MRI. Laboratories and analysis institutes are engaged on potential blood testing for genetic or heritable markers. Nonetheless, right now, an MRI is the one diagnostic device to rule the situation in/out.

With the intention to have an MRI carried out in your canine, normal anesthesia is required. This can improve the price of the process. Many instances, additionally, you will must take your Cavalier to a specialty hospital or a college to have an MRI carried out. Your veterinarian can offer you all the referral info for places and prices in your space.



Syringomyelia is a neurologic situation mostly seen in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, although different breeds have been represented as nicely. It’s mostly triggered secondary to Chiari malformation. In case your canine has CM, there is no such thing as a assure they’ll or gained’t develop SM. Nonetheless, as soon as they develop SM, there is no such thing as a definitive treatment.

Care is geared toward controlling ache and irregular sensations. Surgical procedure could also be doable however tough to seek out, and for a lot of it’s not an possibility financially. Should you discover that your Cavalier has any neck ache, odd reactions to their neck being touched, and/or is itching or irritated round their neck and cranium, please communicate together with your veterinarian.

Featured Picture Credit score: Fotyma, Shutterstock

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