Video clips of affected dogs
Video clips are one of the best ways to understand how the various symptoms of syringomyelia are expressed in different dogs.
Mild to moderately affected cavalier
Leo has been diagnosed with moderate grade SM by MRI. He has cerebellar herniation, dilated ventricles, and at the time, a small syrinx. In this video, he is 2.5 years old but was asymptomatic when diagnosed with SM at age 1.5, with symptoms only apparent around age 2. In this clip you see a typical scratching session -- this one lasts 30 seconds and was only interrupted because another dog eventually distracts him. He was having such sessions up to a dozen times daily, each lasting up to two minutes, most often first thing in the morning then late at night, waking him from sleep. Sometimes, he will air scratch and bunny hop when on the lead. He is otherwise very active and has no other signs of pain. He is now treated with gabapentin (Neurontin), which minimises his scratching.
Very severely affected cavalier
This cavalier has progressed to showing very severe symptoms. In this clip you can see that scratching -- dismissed by some as a symptom of mild discomfort in cavaliers with SM -- is obviously a sign of almost unbearable pain for this dog. This dog has such sessions many times a day. My thanks to the owner of this cavalier for permission to use this clip. This dog was euthenised. Warning: this clip is disturbing to watch.
Moderate to severely affected cavalier
Chester is a 12 year old cavalier who was adopted as a rescue at 7.5. His symptoms have gradually progressed and some would be classified as moderate, some as severe but manageable. Because of his age he would not have been a candidate for decompression surgery and has not had an MRI, but has been diagnosed on the basis of these strong clinical symptoms at Tufts University. His owner offers a full explanation of what is seen in this video here. You can also read a full summary on Chester and this video from a presentation by Tufts neurologist Dr McDonnell, here. The video shows a very wide range of symptoms: head tilt, scratching, bunny hop gait, pain at being touched, stumbling and falling from limb weakness. Video and links used with kind permission from Ellen Crimmell.
Moderately affected cavalier
Leo (cavalier in clip 1) at age 5. His symptoms have gradually progressed and while his scratching has been generally well controlled on medications he has started scratching regularly when on walks, something he rarely did in the past. In this brief clip you see typical SM scratching while on the lead -- briefly stopping and trying to scratch and 'bunny hopping'. This type of scratching seems to come and go.
Moderate to severely affected cavalier showing typical lead scratching
This is a BBC News clip showing an affected cavalier from the BBC Primetime documentary 'Pedigree Dogs Exposed'. This documentary, which features the health problems in cavaliers, has the BBC considering dropping its 40 year association with broadcasting the Crufts dog show.
Click here to view
Videos with public viewing permission on YouTube showing typical types of SM symptoms (note that an affected dog may have NO synptoms, ONE symptom, or SEVERAL and that NOT ALL DOGS SCRATCH (though this IS a common symtpom it is not a REQUIRED symptoms for SM!):
Face rubbing and hind leg scratching/air scratching:
Restlessness, face rubbing, scratching:
Abbey (a very helpful and detailed video): Foot chewing, air scratching, ear scratching, face rubbing, rubbing along sofa/objects, air licking:
Fly catching and unexplained yelping: