Syringomyelia Awareness: Lola’s Story

My Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Lola, is my first dog who i compete with in agility. She started competing in January 2010 and is now in grade 4, she has also qualified for YKC at Crufts in Obedience, Agility Dog of the Year, Small dog agility, Jumping and Dogstable.

On the 15th of August 2008, Lola was brought on the long journey home with us. She was a gorgeous little bundle of fluff and from day one was an outgoing, confident little dog. We were quite naive when we got her, she was our first dog and we didn’t think anything of health traits. A few days after Pedigree Dogs exposed was aired on the BBC. This was the first time i had heard of Syringomyelia.

In the summer of 2009 i noticed that Lola was scratching when i walked her on the lead. She wouldn’t stop and scratch, she would air scratch as we walked along. She did it two or tree times for a second and that was it. I got worried but it didn’t happen again all summer, so i dismissed it. i really wish i had done something about it then than wait for more solid evidence.

In March 2010 Lola started scratching again on walks, only this time it didn’t go away. She would start scratching and then i would stop and she would stop scratching, but then as soon as we started moving again she would start scratching again. She would do this for about 5 seconds on each walk. First, we thought it was because of her chip, as she was scratching exactly where her chip was located. So we changed to a harness, which helped immensely, but then that stopped working and we changed back to a collar because that seemed to work better. At the end of March a friend of mine, who is a vet nurse, said that Lola may have SM. i had heard of the disease but still didn’t thoroughly understand it so i immediately researched the disease so i could thoroughly understand and detect it. It was then clear to me that Lola did have the symptom of scratching, but luckily no pain.

After months of trying to persuade my parents, in October Lola had her MRI. It showed a syrinx that at it’s widest was 7.70 mm and several other syrinxes along her spinal column. i was distraught, not only did she have SM but she had it bad and i hadn’t done anything about it until now. Clare Rusbridge gave us the options of surgery and medical management and sent us home will 100mg gabapentin tablets. Unfortunately the gabapentin did nothing for her symptoms and as Lola’s syrinx was so large we wanted to do as much as possible to prevent it getting larger and to prevent any onset of pain. Therefore on November 23rd, Lola had decompression surgery in the bid to prevent the SM progressing. The surgery was complicated and Lola lost a lot of blood, she stopped breathing during surgery but luckily came back. She came home 5 days later with a very bad headache and a large line of stitches from the top of her head to the bottom of her neck.

After 2 weeks remarkably Lola was back to her old self. Everyone had to do there best to keep her calm and make her rest, as she was having none of it! Now 5 weeks on she still on the gabapentin, but her scratching has started to decrease slightly. I am now able to walk her in a coat, which was impossible before, and have her on a harness without her scratching every 5 minutes. Hopefully, when we next see Clare Lola will have a better prognosis than she did before, as it seems that her surgery has been a success (touch wood).

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  1. Cross my fingers and toes!! Thank you for your storey! Kind regards, Charlotte

  2. Anonymous says

    i'm thinking of getting a cav, and do you think it would be a good thing to go to the vet monthly to check for any health problems so that they can hopefully get rid of it for good? or give it some tablets?

  3. Felissa Hadas says

    Dear Anonymous –
    Syringomyelia is not something you can get rid of by giving your dog a few pills. It is a genetic disease that there is no cure for once your dog has been found to have this disease. The onyl way to know if your dog is effected is to have an MRI done this is not something you would do on a regular basis because of the cost.

    It is always a good idea to make sure your pet is healthy and up to date on all vaccinations. If you are worried your pet seems ill a trip to the vet is always best. Though some dogs do visit once in a while just to check their weight and learn going to the vet isn't horrible.

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