Hello, my name is***** and I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian. I understand that you would be concerned about your girl Sophie's strange new behavior
.If this were flea bite or allergy related I would expect more generalized itchiness. If this were in response to a bite or sting in that area then I would expect redness or swelling or her to lick that area as well.Unfortunately because she is a King Charles Cavalier we do need to worry about more unusual and serious conditions that can cause these symptoms.Chiari-like Malformation and Syringomyelia
(CM/SM) is a neurologic condition that commonly occurs in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
. It is caused by an accumulation of spinal fluid within the spinal cord in the neck region. This fluid accumulation is secondary to a malformation of the brain
and skull. Basically the brain is too big for the skull, and the back of skull cannot accommodate the brain. The back part of the brain (cerebellum) herniates out into the spinal column canal which then interferes with the movement of spinal fluid, resulting in accumulation of spinal fluid within the spinal cord. The pressure of the fluid accumulation leads to clinical signs of the disease. These signs include discomfort or pain in the neck region which can affect nerve roots on that side of the spinal cord. This pain can cause symptoms such as scratching on one side, many times without making skin contact, so the disease is also referred to as “neck scratcher’s disease.” Facial pain can also be a problem, which can be confused with ear
pain. Eventually the pressure or pain can become severely debilitating. As things progress neurological signs can also include front limb weakness, rear leg incoordination, loss of sensation, facial nerve paralysis
, deafness, seizures
, incoordination and loss of balance, vision loss, and head tremors.This is diagnosed most in younger dogs, but can show symptoms at any age. The only way to definitively diagnose CM/SM is an MRI of the brain and neck.Treatment of CM/SM can be provided either medically with drugs to control the pressure and/or pain or surgically. Surgical treatment is usually done in dogs that do not improve with medical management.Your girl would need to see a neurologist or internal medicine specialist to diagnose her condition, so I would ask for a referral from your regular veterinarian if you want to look into this further. It is possible that this may be related to allergies, and if so she should become itchy in other spots, but given her breed we do need to worry about more serious underlying things. Please let me know if you have any further questions.