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Dr. Jay Mawhinney
Dr. Jay Mawhinney, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 2414
Experience:  34+ years experience in day practice and in critical care.
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Our 1-1/2 year old cavalier king charles spaXXXXX, XXXXXy,

Customer Question

Hello. Our 1-1/2 year old cavalier king charles spaXXXXX, XXXXXy, has been crying out in pain for about 10 days. Took him to our vet yesterday. She suspects syringomyelia. Sent us home with rimadyl, told us to watch him, wants to see him within a month, and suggested contacting a specialist. (Our 13 year old daughter has spina bifida so we're familiar with the human medical condition). Joey cries out in pain, he's been "head-rubbing" a lot, doesn't want to jump up onto bed anymore (so I pick him up), isn't turning his head, scratching around his neck/ear area, licking paws, lethargic until rimadyl kicks in, slow to get up, and stopping to shake while walking, as if he is wet. I'm devastated. We have 3 children who adore Joey and my husband is crazy about him. Fortunately, his heart is fine, even though breeder told us her vet thought he had a heart murmur during his first vet visit. We adopted him at 6 weeks. Don't want him in pain, but my middle class family is "the new poor" and can't afford expensive medical treatment. What should we do? Can we give him lots of pain medication so he never hurts and see where this leads? Will is shorten his life?  Can it be managed without removing a portion of his skull?  Are there pain meds available that will allow him to be alert and playful, not lethargic?  Not confirmed so we're only telling our kids that he hurt his back or neck and we have to be gentle with him and give him his meds. Thanks for your help. Karen Lyons (XXXXX@XXXXXX.XXX)
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Jay Mawhinney replied 2 years ago.
I am sorry to hear of your dilemma with your young dog. Syringomelia does occur in some breed lines of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. It might be worth it to ask your veterinarian about a slightly different anti inflammatory regimen due to the nature of this problem. (I checked on an expert panel site and one specialist suggested the following.)
Starting Gabapentin and Prednisolone (dose for prednisolone. 0.5mg/kg/day---for suggestion to your veterinarian). It is important to be off of the Rimadyl for a few days and maybe have Pepsid, or Omeprazole for the transition since the stomach irritation from the Rimadyl would be serious in presence of Prednisolone. Seems like a good regimen to me on a spinal inflammatory disease. Rimadyl is a good pain and anti inflammatory drug but unless it is really doing the job, ask your veterinarian about trying the other 2 drugs in combination instead of it. Good luck on this.
Dr. Jay Mawhinney
Dr. Jay Mawhinney, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 2414
Experience: 34+ years experience in day practice and in critical care.
Dr. Jay Mawhinney and 7 other Dog Veterinary Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
so hopefully we can avoid surgery? what about life-span? Thank you
Expert:  Dr. Jay Mawhinney replied 2 years ago.
Really difficult to say. If at all possible try to save up to get to a specialist for an MRI, spinal fluid analysis and neurological work up. It could be progressive. Hopefully he responds to the medication. Life expectancy could be months or years but I am not experienced enough with specific cases to guess at this. Do try to get to a Neurologist if possible.
Expert:  Dr. Jay Mawhinney replied 2 years ago.
I hope things are improving for your dog.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for asking. Unfortunately, no. Our vet put him on gabapentin and pred, which gives him some relief but not significantly. We have another vet appt tomorrow. I read Long Island Vet Spec. Dr. Marino's book on syringomyelia, as recommended by my vet. If this is what "Joey" is suffering from, it's incredibly progressive in him. Not the same dog he was 5 weeks ago. Hopefully can increase/add more pain meds. Unfortunately, surgery is probably out of the question. We will do the right thing for Joe, if/when the time comes. We don't want him to suffer. Thank you for your help and kindness.
Karen Lyons
Expert:  Dr. Jay Mawhinney replied 2 years ago.
Your welcome and I'm sorry about the situation but yes it progresses at variable rate and without surgery (not always successful but sounds like not feasible) there is not much long term hope and I'm glad you are not going to take it past reasonable discomfort.

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Dr. Jay Mawhinney
Dr. Jay Mawhinney
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34+ years experience in day practice and in critical care.