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Long-term outcome of Cavalier King Charles spaniel dogs with clinical signs associated with Chiari-like malformation and syringomyelia
  1. I. N. Plessas, DVM, MRCVS1,
  2. C. Rusbridge, BVMS, PhD, DipECVN, MRCVS2,
  3. C. J. Driver, BSc, BVetMed (Hons), MRCVS1,
  4. K. E. Chandler, BVetMed, PhD, DipECVN, FHEA, MRCVS1,
  5. A. Craig, BVSc; M Vet Clin Studies, MACVS3,
  6. I. M. McGonnell, PhD4,
  7. D. C. Brodbelt, MA VetMB PhD DVA DipECVAA MRCVS1 and
  8. H. A. Volk, DVM, PhD, DipECVN, FHEA, MRCVS1
  1. 1Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, Royal Veterinary College, Hatfield, UK
  2. 2Goddard Veterinary Group, Stone Lion Veterinary Hospital, London, UK
  3. 3Department of Small Animal Medicine, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, Australia
  4. 4Department of Veterinary Basic Sciences, Royal Veterinary College, Hatfield, UK
  1. E-mail for correspondence: hvolk{at}


The disease complex Chiari-like malformation (CM) and syringomyelia (SM) has been associated with the development of neuropathic pain (NeP), and commonly affects Cavalier King Charles spaniels (CKCS). This prospective cohort study followed 48 CKCSs with CM and/or SM and clinical signs suggestive of NeP for a period of 39 (±14.3) months from diagnosis. At the end of the study, 36 dogs were still alive; five dogs died of an unrelated or unknown cause, and seven were euthanased due to severe clinical signs suggestive of NeP. During the follow-up period, the clinical signs of scratching, facial rubbing behaviour, vocalisation and exercise ability were evaluated. Nine out of 48 dogs stopped scratching (P<0.001), but there was no statistically significant change in the number of dogs exhibiting exercise intolerance, vocalisation or facial rubbing behaviour. The overall severity of clinical signs based on a visual analogue scale (VAS) (0 mm: no clinical signs 100 mm: severe clinical signs) increased (from median 75 mm (interquartile ranges (IQR) 68–84) to 84 mm (IQR 71.5–91), P<0.001). A quarter of the dogs were static or improved. In general, the majority of the owners felt that the quality of life of their dogs was acceptable. Medical treatments received were gabapentin or pregabalin and/or intermittently, carprofen. The owner's perception of their animal's progress, and progress based on VAS, had strong positive correlation (Spearman's rank correlation (sr) 0.74, P<0.001). Overall, this study suggests that clinical signs suggestive of NeP progress in three-quarters of CKCSs with CM and/or SM.

  • Neurology
  • Neurosurgery
  • Pharmacology

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