Chiari Malformation and Syringomyelia is a little known condition, which, as well as people can affect Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. Basically, what it means for the Spaniels is that their brain is too big for their skull, and there is a build up of cerebral fluid which will eventually destroy their spinal chord. Cavalier Matters is a small charity dedicated to providing support to Cavalier owners and eduction about how to cope with the condition. Karen, a representative of the charity told us;
CM is now thought to affect most CKCS, and SM grows in number all the time. Cavaliers have many genetic health conditions which impact greatly on their life, many causing extreme pain. We try to highlight these problems, support poorly cavalier owners, raise funds for research and rescue, campaign re puppy farms, encourage breeders to follow health tests etc. If we can raise awareness, stop people buying from breeders who don’t health test, then less cavaliers have to suffer. For more information on what we do and how to best support your own cavaliers, please visit our website.
We first became aware of the charity when we learnt that one of Badger’s Twitter followers, Donna, is living with the condition with her dog, Freddie. She is currently trying to raise money for the charity by doing a sponsored diet. We caught up with her to find out more.
- How did you meet, come to be Freddie’s mum?
I came to be owned by Freddie after I had a hysterectomy in 2011, I was feeling really down due to the op and wanted some one else in my life to care for other than the hubby and kids who are all grown now.
- What does living with the condition mean in real terms?
Living with Freddie’s syringomyelia is like a roller coaster ride, some days are good and he seems happy and plays lots, other days he is in so much pain and doesn’t move much at all. He can’t exercise for long periods as that causes him pain too. He sometimes squeals when he jumps on and off furniture and spends a lot of time shaking and rubbing his head. All the dogs seem to suffer different symptoms, I guess like hoomans they all cope with pain differently. Currently Freddie is on frusomide and gabapentin (medications), these are being reviewed at his next visit to the neurologist. It’s a degenerative condition, so he’s never going to recover, but hopefully it can be managed.
- How did you hear about Cavalier Matters, and how have they been helping?
I heard about cavalier matters after Freddie’s diagnosis, whilst trawling the internet for further information.
They have been excellent in providing information and support, the work they do raising awareness of cavalier health issues is amazing, without them and the Companion Cavalier Club, who also run an excellent informative Facebook group, I wouldn’t be dealing with all this as well as I am. They are my rock on Freddie’s bad days when we don’t know what to do, and they are there to celebrate his good days when he’s happy. It’s also nice to see all the other lil cavaliers in the group doing well and hear their stories.
- Are you pro pet outfits?
I am, but the practical items such as jumpers, fleeces and coats etc.
Freddie has his own winter coat and he did have a Santa outfit last year for my daughter’s 18th birthday fancy dress party.
With his SM he is very sensitive around his neck so I do have to be careful what I put him in. He can’t wear a collar so has a harness which is more comfortable for him.
- What made you decide to do a sponsored diet?
I have put on a lot of weight after having my hysterectomy and I’m not too good with motivating myself to lose it, so I thought a brilliant way to help me would be to do it for charity.
Freddie’s illness has really devastated my family, seeing him in pain breaks my heart, so for me there really isn’t any worthier cause. Cavalier Matters do so much good, raising money for research into canine genetic diseases with a goal of eliminating cm/sm in cavaliers, advising individuals about buying cavaliers etc, such as checking the puppy you want to give a home to has come from MRI scanned and health tested parents. I just want to do my bit for the lil cavaliers and to help out Cavalier Matters as a thank you for all the support they have given us. No fur baby should ever have to suffer from
this condition and I do feel if all breeders MRI scanned their breeding dogs there would be far less lil cavaliers suffering (just my opinion).
- How is is going so far?
So far I have raised £95. I am aiming to raise at least £500. I thought I had just 4 stone to lose but after my first weigh in, its now 6 stone, so I have a while to do this. If I get hungry I think about the
lil cavaliers who are suffering and i refuse to let them down.
- How can people get involved and help out?
People can help by sponsoring me at http://www.justgiving.com/Donna-Farrand, or simply by promoting awareness of this disease in cavaliers, so new owners know what to look out for. Alternatively
go and join the cavalier campaign website for cavalier owners.
- What advice would you give to pet owners faced with something similar?
Before giving a home to a cavalier, ensure the parents are tested for at least heart and eyes and have clear MRI scans. If your baby develops symptoms (which are listed on the cavalier matters site) please see a knowledgeable vet and get referred to a neurologist asap. Some vets don’t know much about it, so you really do need a good one. Also don’t suffer alone, join the companion cavalier group as they are a really inspirational bunch of people who are totally dedicated to caring for their babies.
- Anything you’d like to add?
I’d like to say thank you to you for the interview and https://www.facebook.com/
pages/Freddie-the-Cavalier- King-Charles-and-his- Syringomyelia-Journey/ 191502210990426?ref=hl is Freddie’s
Facebook page if anyone would like to follow his Syringomyelia journey.
Much Love to all x