Syringomyelia Awareness: Truls Story

Guest Post by:

Charlotte from Sweden
As of today I am still not sure what was wrong with my little dog, but here is our story:
“Truls” was my first dog (Cavalier) and I can still remember the feeling when we went to pick him up (born 2002-01-09). My own little dog! He was very social and after 1,5 years we decided to buy a second cavalier, Lukas, as we thought that Truls may feeling lonely at home while we were working. Truls & Lukas seemed happy and everything went well.
While attending different courses at the local dog club we started practising Agility – which Truls loved. He didn’t always focus as much as I but still, he loved it. We entered competitions and won some prices. We even won 1st price beating 16 other dogs during one competition, I was so proud. Truls was also a star in the showroom. He had one Certificate, several best dog prices and “certificate quality” prizes. 

First I didn’t notice anything but he became much slower and seemed tired when we did agility. While running he didn’t bend his spine as other dogs do… Truls seemed to keep the spine completely still (?) although in motion. I also discover that one of muscles in the back legs was much bigger then the other (probably due to some sort of compensation). He also “shortened” his neck like someone does due to neck pain (difficult to explain) – pulling the shoulders up. I also suspected a small limp on one of his front legs, but this was never confirmed. I also discover a lot of fungus in his face and on his paws.

The weather also had a big impact on him… he didn’t like hot summer days nor cold rainy days.
One thing that I believe to be problem from the beginning was his stomach. Truls seemed very sensitive to normal dog food. When he was only 2 years old we were given the advice to remove the small glands located in the end of the bowel. Truls had a problem with inflammation/constipation in those glands due frequent diarrhoea (my own reflection). The glands were removed by surgery. I believe I have tried anything in the dog food market, some for the better some for the worse. The only thing that did work was B.A.R.F. When I gave him bones he even got constipated (poor little fellow). We started using B.A.R.F when he was 6 years old.
At the age of 5 he started to scratch himself when someone tried to pet him near the neck. He was suddenly uncomfortable wearing a collar and we started using a harness instead. The dog coats that he used to wear wasn’t comfortable anymore, he didn’t want to use them. Truls became father to 3 puppys (born 2005) and one of them also started scratching – when the puppy was 2 years old the vet. did a MRI and discovered that she had syringomyela. Shortly thereafter she was put to sleep.

I also did a MRI on Truls (from the nose to the center or the body/spine) but the result was “negative”. The only thing found was a possible PSOM and/or a damage nerve (showing no signal in the MRI scan). The vet didn’t offer any treatment and only suggested that I should put him to sleep =(. After that I have done almost everything for my beloved dog. He has visited everyone and done everything that might work. Acupuncture, Homeopathics, physiotherapist, swimming ….
He started sleeping in strange positions (see picture) – twisting his spine.
I had to use the vacuum cleaner almost every day since he lost lots and lots of hair (probably due to great stress). But he never got any hairless spots. At the age of 6 he was diagnosed with MVD, but it was so small that he didn’t need any medication. I continued my search for solving the issue/puzzle with his scratching. The symptoms relapsed over time… it got worse, then somewhat better and then worse again. However I found one connection – when his stomach was upset and he wanted to eat grass (to vomit) the scratching was much more intense (he started to bunny hop during walks). When the stomach was calm the scratching almost disappeared and he would only scratch if you tried to pet him on his head.
In November 2010, the symptoms of the MVD became worse – and so his stomach and the scratching. When the snow came (a lot!!) he couldn’t eat any grass and he became the saddest little cavalier ever. I went to the vet. whom performed an x-ray showing that his heart was twice the size of a normal heart. He got medication but in the following two weeks he stopped eating…. On the 29th of December I kissed my beloved little Truls good bye and let him go to sleep… R.I.P my little sweet heart! He should have turned 9 years old in January 2011.
Although we never found out the true reason behind the scratching I can’t help thinking that his poor digestion had something to do with it… (or the other way around). I don’t think that the food given to dogs today gives them all the nutrition needed so they can grow up to be healthy dogs…. I hear lots of stories of dogs developing cancer, diabetes and other difficult diseases. In humans the female need extra Folic acid the first 12 weeks during a pregnancy (and preferably several weeks before) in order for the baby to develop a normal spine – just for mentioning something (we need a lot more nutrition then that). However worth mentioning, the fathers also need extra nutrition before a baby is planned. I know that breeders give their bitches extra nutrition … but how about the dogs? And finally, are they given enough??? 

Thank you for sharing information regarding Syringomyelia. Although it won’t bring my “Truls” back, it might help Cavaliers in the future to come… it’s a lovely breed I miss my little friend a lot! Lukas is still with us – showing no sign of scratching as of today (he will turn 8 during summer). But he miss his friend too… (Truls and Lukas are not related)

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  1. A very touching story, and I am so sorry for your loss. Your story, really touched base with me. I find it interesting how you connected stomach trouble and pain.

    My affected dog suffered from bouts of colitis for a good year before being diagnosed with pain from her CM, no SM (also full bodied MRI). Fortunately I was able to locate a Neurologist who was familiar with treating CM only pain in a few others successfully. Adding gabepentin and prednisone (which one would think would upset her stomach), has resulted in no more stomach issues.

    I think everyone willing to bare their stories in this event should be thanked. The stories vary but that is good – we learn, more by hearing the varying perspectives.

  2. Cooper and Lola says

    What a powerful story… Sorry about your loss.

  3. Cooper and Lola says

    Felissa….We have a great giveaway going this week. Thought of you, come check it out if you have time.

  4. I forgot to mention that Truls also often hade ear infections and was treated with antibiotics several times.

    Thanks you for you kind comments!
    Kind regards, Charlotte

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