Tag Archives: health testing

How can you tell an Ethical/Responsible breeder from a backyard breeder or puppy Mill?

I get asked this question all the time – aren’t breeders all the same? How can I tell the difference between an ethical breeder and a backyard breeder or a puppy mill?

Well, the answer is simple. No. They are not all the same.

And more than that, just because it is “pure bred” does not mean it was “well bred”.

For this blogpost, I want to define that an ethical/preservation breeder is someone who breeds to improve the breed as their primary focus. They are not in it for the money and having puppies is not their income source. A backyard breeder, for this blog post, is defined as someone who has a dog that has “papers” and wants to have a litter to have fun or the experience. They generally don’t do any health testing. They sometimes will purchase a male and female and just breed them together. A puppy mill, for this blog post, is a breeder who breeds solely to make money. They are not always the horrible images we see on TV (although there are extreme puppy mills that do treat their dogs like that), but mostly they cut as many corners and costs to maximize profits. The health and safety are not really a priority and so the dogs have limited routine vet checks and don’t usually have the recommended health tests. Some of these puppy mills have beautiful websites and photos and so as a buyer you have to really be vigilant to make sure that is not where you are buying your puppy from.

I also want to make something else clear – AKC is a pedigree registry. It is a place that records the history of your dog’s parentage so they can prove that it is (or isn’t) a pure bred dog. Each breed of dog has a written standard of what they should look like. It does not monitor how close they are to the standard and so it is up to you as a buyer to check that your breeder is adhering to what they need to, to keep to the standard.

Many ethical breeders will show their dogs in conformation shows. This is not just for prestige – although the ribbons and awards are certainly fun. Most of the time it is to make sure that the dogs they are producing are adhering to the standard. When you get together with other breeders, you can compare your breeding stock with other breeders and see if you are “on track”. You also get feedback from impartial judges. It helps many breeders try not to have “mommy goggles” as lets be honest – we all think our dogs are the most beautiful in the world.

What separates ethical/preservation breeders from backyard breeders or puppy mills is their commitment to the breed itself. By showing their dogs, a breeder shows their commitment to keeping their dogs to the standard. How can you tell if your breeder is committed? Ask your breeder what clubs they belong to. Ask them if they do any sports with their dogs such as tracking/scent work or barn hunting or obedience or even good canine citizen awards. Even if they don’t show their dogs (their is no reason not to) they should be committed to being part of the local clubs – this requires them to adhere to ethical standards of breeding, and accountability.

If a breeder talks about their dogs “champion bloodlines”, they are probably trying to trick you into thinking they show their dogs, or that they adhere to the standard in their breeding. However, this “champion” could be far back in their pedigree and pretty meaningless.

Health testing also sets ethical/preservation breeders apart from those just in it to make money. AKC has a list for each breed, of the health tests recommended by each parent club. The images below are the beagle and CKCS recommended health tests.

Ethical breeders will have these tests and have proof that they are done. There is a registry for health tests online called www.ofa.org – here you can look up any dog by it’s registered name and verify information given to you by the breeder.

However, I will note that it costs money to register the results online so many breeders do the tests but don’t put the results online, so make sure you ask if you don’t see them.

For Hearts, check that the check was done by a cardiologist, not just a vet practitioner. Breeders that are not taking their dogs to a cardiologist are not adhering to the standard and are cutting a very important step but pretending they aren’t.

Cavalier hearts should be checked every year. Many backyard breeders and puppy mills will do them once (if at all). So, check the dates and ask questions if they are not current.

This is an OFA eye check – this girl has extra eyelashes (distichiasis), but her eyes have no eye disease. It’s important to read results thoroughly and feel free to ask or google anything you aren’t sure about.

The final way to tell an ethical/preservation breeder from a backyard breeder or a puppy mill is by looking at if they are working towards making their breeding program and the breed better by their breedings, or if they are just pumping out puppies.

An ethical/preservation breeder will search out the best match for their dams (moms). Most of the time, it will not be in their back yard. They are not afraid to import semen from overseas, across the US or from their network of breeder friends. A backyard breeder or puppy mill want to save as much money as possible to maximize profits and so use the same stud and dam for every single litter. If they never use any other studs, it should be a red flag.

Every puppy will be cute. So, don’t base your decisions on a cute puppy. Ask questions and be prepared to walk away if you are not liking what you hear. You deserve to get a puppy that has had the best start in life.

How to tell if your beeder’s OFA heart certs are legit

Both Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and Beagles should have their hearts checks before breeding.

CKCS should go one step further and have theirs checked every single year, since our breed is plagued with a heart disease that can develop over time.

Hearts, while they can be checked by a general practitioner, *should* be checked by a cardiologist. Cardiologists train to hear the difference in the clicks and ticks that hearts make and what these noises make. They are trained to see things on echocardiograms to understand how the heart valves work and blood flows.

To know if your breeder is having their hearts checked properly, check their documentation. Have a look to see what is written. I will show you two examples.

This beagle was seen by a cardiologist as you can see on the bottom right.

This cavalier was seen by a regular vet (unfortunately).

As I mentioned earlier, heart clearances for cavaliers are only valid for 1 year. If your breeder is breeding dogs that haven’t got current clearances, you should ask them why not.

Not every breeder posts the results online – it can get expensive to do so. So, they can just show you the paperwork that would be submitted to www.ofa.org. Below are some examples for you to look at.

If you want to know more about what a heart murmur is, there is a little video about it here:

I want to say thank you to Su Ann from Lucidity’s cavaliers for the inspiration and a couple of the images for this article.

We are expecting cavalier puppies

We are so happy to announce that the first Kazuri litter for 2021 will be (all going well) cavaliers. We expect them to be born late March/early April.

Miss Charlotte is in whelp to German import Est/Lat/Germ CH Angel’s Pride Zakkary.

This is a tri x blenheim breeding and we could get puppies in either color from this litter.

*please note that we have an existing waitlist and so these puppies will all be spoken for*

Charlotte
Zakk

Why should you delay spaying and neutering?

Here at Kazuri, we recommend delaying spaying and neutering till 18 months (or till your dog’s growth plates are closed which can be determined through an x-ray).  

Allowing your dog to grow to full maturity, will allow him or her to be healthier socially, mentally and physically.    Studies have concluded that neutering before puberty increases a dog’s risk of:

  • Behavioral issues such as noise phobias, fearful behavior, and aggression
  • Cardiac tumors
  • Bone cancers
  • Prostate cancer
  • Abnormal bone growth and development
  • ACL ruptures
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Hypothyroidism

There are many studies that show this.   You can visit Reproductive Specialist Dr Marty Greer’s website https://www.smallanimalclinic.com/ and she has a whole section dedicated to articles about spaying and neutering so you can research yourself.  There is evidence that talks about dogs living longer when spaying/neutering is delayed and things like that. 

Dr Judy Morgan talks about it in this video here:

If you feel like you cant keep your male from wandering or your girl from getting pregnant, then please know that we will support you in getting them spayed / neutered early – as I certainly an not an advocate for unwanted pregnancies and adding to the pet population without meaning to. 

You do have another option though if you need to spay or neuter earlier than desired.  Vets can do vasectomies on males or ovary sparing spays on females meaning they can still get the hormones they need, but there is no risk of unwanted puppies.  Please consider this if you cant wait till 18 months to get your dog spayed/neutered. 

The dangers of Over-vaccinating your dogs.

Today I’m writing about a topic that makes me want to reach for a blood pressure pill: the annual (over) vaccination of dogs.

Annual vaccination is unnecessary and dangerous for your dog. Despite what we know about the risks, it seems to be what most vets recommend to all dogs.

Experts like leading veterinary immunology researcher Ronald D Schultz PhD proved decades ago that most dogs will be protected for many years – and probably for life by one round of core vaccines as puppies – as long as they are completed about 16 weeks old.

Only Rabies is actually legally required. Parvo is highly recommended as it can be lethal if not treated quickly and effectively.

Dr Schultz reports:

“The patient receives no benefit and may be placed at serious risk when an unnecessary vaccine is given. Few or no scientific studies have demonstrated a need for cats or dogs to be revaccinated.”

The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA), the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) have announced publicly that annual vaccination is unnecessary and can be harmful.

But unfortunately, often these studies do nothing to stop vets from vaccinating more often than necessary. Dog owners need to advocate for their dogs and be the ones to say “no” or ask for a TITRE TEST.

A titer test is a simple blood test where they look at the immunity level of your dog’s blood against the virus. If your dog has low immunity, the vaccine is recommended. If they have high immunity then it is not.

Over vaccination has be attributed to auto-immune disorders, allergies, epileptic seizures and neurological issues and cancer.

Please, please advocate for your dog.

Figuring out what CDDY/IVDD – CHONDRODYSTROPHY AND INTERVERTEBRAL DISC DISEASE, TYPE I IVDD Mean on your Embark Test

This is a genetic test that is (in my opinion) a little deceptive. Almost every beagle I have come across, that has been tested, has been positive for this. Some say as many as 99% of the breed will be positive – but I dont see 99% of beagles having back issues and ruptured disks.

There is even evidence that shows that it may be common across most breeds, even though most will be asymptomatic.

The reason it is highlighted is that it is an indicator of a gene that they found commonly in dogs with short legs and long bodies – bassets, corgis, dauschunds and the like. These dogs are said to have an “increased risk of a health condition affecting the discs that act as cushions between vertebrae. Affected dogs can have a disc event where it ruptures or herniates towards the spinal cord and it can cause neurological issues.”

The problem I find with the results of this test are two fold.

  1. The test does not take into account any environmental factors such as the weight of your dog, how active or fit your dog is, or how often they jump off higher surfaces like couches or beds. An overweight dog is going to be much more likely to have back issues than one that is kept at a healthy weight for his or her body.
  2. The test does not give any indication of how much increased risk. Is your dog at 0.001% increased risk of having a rupture? Or 4% increased risk? Or 33% increased risk? or 79% increased risk? There is no information about what the increased risk actually is. There is no actual guidelines or information here. Just scary words with nothing to quantify it.

Ruth Darlene Stewart from Aladar Beagles wrote an article about this also – she is a repected AKC judge and long time beagle breeder.

It seems that maybe this gene doesn’t activate or affect beagles in the same way that it does other breeds. Maybe it is because we are actually not a long bodied, short legged breed. I dont know. However, I want you to rest at ease and not panic about it if you see it on your genetic testing result.

Below is a copy of the amended letter from Embark to families about IVDD to try and better explain and put everyone’s minds at ease. Please feel free to read it.

Epilepsy and Beagles

Epilepsy is a complex disease. There is so much we don’t know about it. We can have dogs who don’t exhibit symptoms produce it, or others who do exhibit symptoms. Unfortunately we can not genetically test for it, so we have no way to predict. We do know it is polygenic. This means that it must be inherited from both sides, and it does seem to look like it can be passed hidden through many generations before popping up in the “perfect storm” in one puppy who exhibits the symptoms.

Some amazing breeders have put together some great information, so I thought I would share it here.

The first paper is called “Complexity of the Epilepsy Genetic Challenge”
By Khalida Hendricks

The only way epilepsy could “come from the one parent”, with no fault or contribution from the other
parent, is if the allele for epilepsy is dominant so that the offspring only has to inherit one single
dominant copy from the bitch. If the allele was dominant, epilepsy would not be able to skip
generations as we know it does.
So although it is true we do not know the exact means of inheritance, we KNOW that an affected
offspring must inherit at least one affected allele from the dam and one from the sire. (see below for
further comment on multi-genetic traits). This means that a “producer” list is a valid option, as any
beagle, male or female, that has produced the genetic form of idiopathic epilepsy must possess at least
one copy of one allele that contributes to the idiopathic epilepsy genotype.
The grey area comes in the diagnosis of the affected offspring – was the epilepsy truly genetic,
idiopathic epilepsy, or is it possible something else caused the epilepsy? It does seem that
environmental triggers may come into play even with the genetic factors, so a case of epilepsy could be
purely genetic, purely environmental, or a mix of genetic and environmental. I think most people
suspect the third option. So if 3% of beagles present with IE, it could be that some higher percent
actually possesses the genotype to develop it but never had it triggered.
Then we cloud the waters even further. It does not appear that IE in beagles is a single genetic trait,
meaning that it requires not just one allele from each parent, but it requires some specific combination
of alleles, likely from each parent. So suppose it requires a combination of three genes: aa bb cc
Suppose sire is aa bb Cc…he will not be affected, but any bitch that is Aa Bb Cc could produce an
epileptic puppy with this sire (6.25% chance of epileptic genotype for each puppy), regardless of how
“safe” her pedigree has been determined thanks to the A’s and B’s and C’s coming down through the
lines. An aa bb cc bitch (perhaps one who is asymptomatic) with this sire would produce puppies with a
50% chance of having the epileptic genotype. So this sire will likely produce more epilepsy. But maybe
another sire is Aa Bb Cc…Now a breeding the same Aa Bb Cc bitch would only have a 1.56% of having
the epileptic genotype per puppy, and even the aa bb cc bitch would produces puppies with only a
12.5% chance of having the epileptic genotype. So he is a lot less likely to sire a puppy with IE, but it
is still possible. He might be bred 100 times before he sires a puppy with just the right genetic combo
and just the right environmental triggers.
We don’t know if it is one gene (most likely not), two genes, or many more genes that cause IE in
beagles. Maybe some of the genes involved are dominant, some partially dominant, some recessive.
But we can be pretty sure that it takes a contribution from both sire and dam to produce it. So producer
lists are a start. Ideally, we would have producer lists along with frequency of producing vs not
producing, and a cross reference with the dams who have produced it. I firmly believe if we had
enough data we could narrow it down. But we don’t have enough data, from what I understand, and
even if we did the data might not be “clean” enough, because of the probability that environmental
influences also come into play.

***********

This second paper is a collection of thoughts put together by Darlene Stewart – Aladar Beagles.

WHAT WE KNOW

A seizure is caused by an abnormal nerve signal that results in a muscle response. There are many types of seizures, majority involve some loss of consciousness. If you stood behind the dog and called its name, most would be unable to respond.

1) Generalized – these are the type most people think of when they hear the word seizure. The dog will lose consciousness and get rigid. They may paddle and sometimes appear to be chewing. Many will salivate, urinate and or defecate

2) Petit Mal – Signs of this form are brief. Generally, you will see a very brief loss of consciousness, loss of muscle tone and maybe a blank stare. Even though these seizures do not appear to be as severe, the underlying cause is the same as generalized.

3) Simple Focal Seizures – The muscle movements occur in one area of the body. You may see facial twitches or muscle jerking in one area like a leg or twitching of the side. Your beagle may be alert and aware during this type.  But these can progress to generalized seizures.

4) Complex Focal Seizures – These seizures are associated with strange, repetitive behaviors. Lip smacking or fly biting are common examples. Some dogs get very aggressive or vocal while others may hide abnormally.

5) Cluster – this is a term used when an animal has multiple seizures within a 24 hour period of time. These are considered very serious and need veterinary attention immediately.

6) Status Epilepticus – This is a continuous seizure that lasts 15- 30 minutes or more or multiple seizures that occur so close together that no return to normal consciousness occurs. These can be life threatening so immediate veterinary attention is needed.

Seizures can be caused by anything that disrupts normal brain circuitry.  There are two types.

1) Secondary – This is a seizure caused by a known toxin, metabolic disturbance or possibly a previous brain injury/trauma. Numerous types of testing are needed to rule these in or out. These tests include a complete chemistry panel and CBC, thyroid, urine and stool.  These tests can identify hypoglycemia or a possible liver shunt. If negative then an EEG as well as a CT or MRI should be performed to look for a structural brain lesion, such as a mass.  Regular x-rays can only show us the bones of the skull, but not the soft tissue of the brain itself

 2) Idiopathic (Primary) – This diagnosis means that there is no known cause for the seizures.  This conclusion is reached after a full array of tests have been completed and they are negative. Most of these seizures are considered inherited. Close inspection of the dog’s pedigree may reveal affected relatives.  Unfortunately this is the most common type that is diagnosed.  Usually once on anti-seizure medication the seizure activity is well controlled.

Age of Onset of Idiopathic Epilepsy

Most dogs will start to seizure somewhere between 18 months and 5 years of age (classic onset) although in beagles seizures have been known to occur as early as 3 months (early onset) and as late as 9 years (late onset). In beagles late onset seizures appear to be about as common as the classical form.

Comments from Anita M. Oberbauer, Ph.D.-Professor and Department Chair —Department of Animal Science, UC Davis  (http://animalscience.ucdavis.edu/faculty/oberbauer/) concerning the three age groups noted in beagles:

“That does indeed sound like three distinct syndromes. And syndrome is likely the best adjective to describe it. We are finding in other breeds that epilepsy is highly polygenic and while it does track to particular lines, it is less than predictable. Furthermore, we have identified regions in that are associated with epilepsy in some breeds but not at all applicable in others yet there are some that do appear to be informative across breeds.  Anecdotally when breeders do purposely breed away from so called “hot” (high risk) sires, the incidence does decline.  That is what I would advise your breed to do in the absence of any concerted study or validated testing scheme.  As an aside, I do not know of any screening test that has successfully identified physiological/measurable manifestations in advance of actual seizures. “ 

Treatment

A treatment plan should be developed between an owner and their veterinarian. Obviously, if a dog has secondary seizures, correction of the underlying cause (if possible) can reduce the frequency of or even eliminate the seizures.  Dogs with infrequent seizures may require no treatment and may just need to be monitored while others may require one or more anticonvulsant medications to control their seizures. Dogs with cluster seizures are challenging to control. Phenobarbital has traditionally been the drug of choice for treating seizures.  There are, however, several new and promising drugs becoming more widely available for dogs.

WHAT WE DON’T KNOW

Unfortunately the one thing we do not know is the way idiopathic epilepsy is inherited. There are a number of possibilities as to its genetics, but until more specific research is done there is no way to say for sure as to which mechanism it follows.  Judy Musladin and Ada Lueke wrote in the “New Beagle “that the inheritance can be followed as single recessive in the great majority of pedigrees we have studied”. 

Research in other breeds has shown a potential genetic pattern although that pattern maybe polygenic in nature varying among breeds.  A quote from the Canine Epilepsy Network “Epilepsy has been proven to be hereditary in several breeds and it is suspected in numerous other breeds. Right now, we don’t know exactly how epilepsy is inherited in dogs. It may well be that there are different modes of inheritance and different genes involved in various breeds and families. Preliminary results from the Canine Epilepsy Project suggest that there are two or more genes involved in some of these families.”

 A 2003 paper noted that in Vizslas “We conclude that IE in Vizslas appears to be primarily a partial onset seizure disorder that may be inherited as an autosomal recessive trait.”  (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12774973)

The best thought is that Primary Epilepsy is inherited in some manner and all efforts to breed away from affected individuals should be undertaken by intensive pedigree analysis.

The other thing we really don’t know is why different dogs have different types of or different frequencies to their seizures. We also don’t know why different dogs respond better to treatment than others. These questions may be answered one day if the genetics of this issue are ever determined.

*************

If your dog exhibits symptoms of epilepsy, please see your vet ASAP and preferably also see a neurologist for a full diagnosis. It is important to run a panel of bloodwork to make sure that there has not been toxins involved, and there isn’t something wrong with the balance of their body.

Secondly, there are some things that have been documented to be helpful for dogs that have seizures.

  1. Switch to a species appropriate raw diet – there are many fillers and additives in many kibbles and so cutting those out allows your precious pups body to have as few toxins as possible in their body
  2. Limit vaccinations – this is a big one – I would highly recommend TITRE testing from now on (getting a blood test to make sure your dog’s immunity level is still high). Dont vaccinate your dog unless they need it as it compromises their system unnecessarily
  3. Add MCT oil daily – MCT oil (or coconut oil if you can’t find it). It has many health benefits
  4. You can try pet CBD oil – many people have reported success using this. One of the best websites i have heard of is https://petreleaf.com/

Factor 7 and Beagles

Factor 7 is a potential delay in blood coagulation, during times of trauma. 

So, it isn’t the same as hemophilia where the dog bleeds out as they don’t coagulate at all.  It wouldn’t impact them in a time of non-trauma like running around the yard and hurting themselves on a stick.  

The potential would come into play with times of trauma – being hit by a car, or something else traumatic – there is a higher likelihood of blood taking longer to coagulate – but not guaranteed that this would even happen.

Ruth Stewart, AKC judge and long time breeder has written up an excellent article with examples of “affected dogs” that have not been impacted by their F7 – http://www.aladarbeagles.com/factor7.html  It is definitely worth a read. 

What would it mean for you if your dog was “affected”? 

What I recommend to my dogs who are “affected” is to give them vitamin K in the days leading up to a spay/neuter, and to inform the vet so they can have plasma on board “just in case”.  But other than that, you and your dog can live a pretty normal life thankfully

Syringomyelia and cavaliers – what you might want to know and consider before buying one

Our precious cavaliers may encounter this devastating disease. Reputable breeders are working hard to minimize the odds of this in their bloodlines, but it is not an exact science. SM is a complex disease. There is so much we don’t know about it. We can have dogs who don’t exhibit symptoms produce it,. There are some who are diagnosed by MRI with it, who are asymptomatic (no symptoms), and others who do have it and exhibit symptoms.

Unfortunately we can not genetically test for it, so we have no way to predict which puppies may or may not get it. We do know it is polygenic. This means that it must be inherited from both sides, and it does seem to look like it can be passed hidden through many generations before popping up in the “perfect storm” in one puppy who exhibits the symptoms.

The Cavalier King Charles Club (CKCS) put together some information about SM that I wanted to share with you.

SM is a progressive neurological disease that varies in severity. Cavaliers unfortunately are affected by SM in larger numbers to any other breed. It is found in all colors, in all lines, and affects both sexes. Signs are usually noticed in dogs between 6 months and 3 years but it has been diagnosed in Cavaliers up to 10 years old. At present the condition can only be identified by MRI scan or by clinical signs. SM occurs when a Cavalier is born with not enough room in the space in the skull that contains the back of the brain. Damage is caused when fluid (CSF) surrounding the brain is forced through a smaller than normal opening, into the spinal cord. The most common symptom is scratching on, or in the air near, the shoulder when the dog is excited or walking on a lead. However this is not the only symptom and it is not always present. Some refer to SM as “neck scratcher’s disease” because scratching the neck is often a sign of the disease. 

The primary symptoms (usually at least one of these is present) are described as:

  • Excessive Scratching especially while on the lead, and often ‘air scratching’ where the dog scratches in mid-air, leading to a ‘bunny hop’ gait as the dog tries to scratch the air with one leg and walk. Sometimes touching the dog’s ears brings on scratching.
  • General Pain is often first noticed because a dog begins yelping or whining or whimpering for no reason. Pain episodes can disappear then return even after a year or more. In some dogs weather changes such as storms or a cold front seem to bring on episodes.
  • Weakness in Limbs where some dogs may show a lack of coordination. They may limp slightly. Dogs can start to have difficulty getting on and off couches and beds. A paw or leg might go weak. Some dogs will lick at their paws or legs obsessively, often until raw.

The secondary symptoms are described as:

  • Seeking Cool Areas or Restlessness where an affected dog will shift constantly rather than sleep comfortably.
  • Head shaking, lip-licking. Dogs often will shake their heads and ears, yawn excessively (probably an attempt to clear pressure they feel in their heads), or lick at their lips excessively.
  • Head rubbing. Some dogs start to rub their head from side to side on the floor as if their heads hurt, doing this excessively (NB: normal dogs will do this with pleasure, often before rolling on the floor). They sometimes ‘mush’ their face against the floor.
  • Digging or pushing. Some dogs begin to dig obsessively at carpets or sofas. They may run along the length of a sofa pushing themselves against it. Again, this behavior is normal in many dogs; with SM dogs, the activity is frantic.
  • Nerve damage, stiffness, seizures. This can affect a dog in many ways, from loss of feeling, hearing, or muscular movement. Some dogs have neurological problems with their eyes. Nerve damage seems to be progressive with this condition though some dogs have little or no visible damage and others have severe damage. Some dogs develop a stiffness in the neck, back and/or limbs. In severe cases the neck may bend to the right or left (‘neck scoliosis’), or the whole body may bend into a ‘C’ shape when the dog runs. The head may tilt permanently to one side or the other. The dog may have head tremors. Some dogs begin to have seizures, in some cases, several a day.

Understandably, such descriptions can be confusing – how much scratching is ‘excessive’, for example? Some people might turn to their vet with such questions, but many have found their vets were unfamiliar with syringomyelia. 

Medical management can help but typically does not resolve the clinical signs. Signs in mild cases may be controlled by non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) e.g. Rimadyl. Although corticosteroids are effective in limiting the signs most dogs require continuous therapy and subsequently develop the concomitant side effects of immunosuppression, weight gait and skin changes but sometimes there is no alternative and the lowest possible dose should be used to control signs. Gabapentin can also be given in combination with NSAIDs. Side effects are minimal and for this reason Gabapentin is preferred over corticosteroids. Oral opioids are also an alternative for example pethidine tablets at 2-10mg/kg three to four times daily or methadone syrup at 0.1-0.5mg/kg three to four times daily. Acupuncture appears to help some dogs. If the dog has seizures, then these can be controlled with phenobarbitol and potassium bromide

“Introduction to Syringomyelia” by Dr Clare Rusbridge, BVMS DipECVN MRCVS
and “Syringomelia Symptoms” by Karlin Lillington

https://ckcsc.org/syringomyelia

Chairi-like Malformation (CM) in Cavaliers – what you need to know

Our precious cavaliers may encounter this devastating disease. Reputable breeders are working hard to minimize the odds of this in their bloodlines, but it is not an exact science. CM is a complex disease. There is so much we don’t know about it. We can have dogs who don’t exhibit symptoms produce it,. There are some who are diagnosed by MRI with it, who are asymptomatic (no symptoms), and others who do have it and exhibit symptoms.

Unfortunately we can not genetically test for it, so we have no way to predict which puppies may or may not get it. We do know it is polygenic. This means that it must be inherited from both sides, and it does seem to look like it can be passed hidden through many generations before popping up in the “perfect storm” in one puppy who exhibits the symptoms.

So, lets talk about what CM actually is. The best way I can describe it would be to liken it to try to put your foot into a shoe that is too small for your foot. It is when the brain is too large for when the skull to the point that the cerebellum and brain stem are herniated into or via the foramen magnum.

Some people believe it is because the cavalier head shape has changed, but I am not entirely convinced by this theory as I have seen CM in both “domed” shaped heads as well as “flat” shaped heads. Some vets have talked about diagnosing CM by the shape of a cavalier’s head (not through MRI) and I believe that there is plenty of evidence that proves that there is CM (and clears) in many different head shapes and so i think we need to be careful of that.

Really, as a breeder, just do your research – ask questions about if your breeder does scanning and which dogs in your puppy’s bloodline have been scanned. Scanning will not guarantee your puppy will not get it. However, it may decrease your chances of getting a puppy who might have it.