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Dogs attending primary-care practice in England with clinical signs suggestive of Chiari-like malformation/syringomyelia
  1. S. Sanchis-Mora, DVM MVetMed MRCVS1,
  2. L. Pelligand, DMV Cert V. A. Dip. ECVAA Dip ECVPT PhD MRCVS1,
  3. C. L. Thomas, BSc (Hons), BVetMed (Hons) MRCVS1,
  4. H. A. Volk, DVM Dip ECVN FHEA PhD MRCVS1,
  5. S. M. Abeyesinghe, BSc (Hons) MSc PhD1,
  6. D. C. Brodbelt, MA VetMB PhD DVA Dip ECVAA MRCVS1,
  7. D. B. Church, BVSc PhD MACVSc MRCVS1,
  8. P. C. Thomson, BSc MSc (Hons) MAppStat PhD2,
  9. P. D. McGreevy, BVSc PhD MRCVS MACVS (Animal Welfare)2 and
  10. D. G. O'Neill, MVB BSc(Hons) GPCert(SAP) GPCert(FelP) GPCert(Derm) GPCert(B&PS) MSc(VetEpi) PhD MRCVS1
  1. 1Royal Veterinary College, Hawkshead Lane, Hatfield, Hertfordshire AL9 7TA, UK
  2. 2Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, New South Wales 2006, Australia
  1. E-mail for Correspondence: ssanchismora{at}


Chiari-like malformation/syringomyelia (CM/SM) in dogs describes a developmental disorder that can cause pain and reduced quality of life. This retrospective study aimed to report the period prevalence, clinical signs and risk factors for diagnosis of symptomatic CM/SM in the veterinary primary-care setting using a cross-sectional design. The study population included all dogs within the VetCompass Programme (September 1, 2009–June 13, 2014). Overall, the period prevalence of symptomatic CM/SM was 0.05 per cent (95 per cent CI 0.04 per cent to 0.06 per cent) for all breeds. The period prevalence in the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (CKCS) was 1.6 per cent (95 per cent CI 1.2 to 2.06). Other breeds at increased odds included the King Charles Spaniel (KCS), Affenpinscher, Chihuahua and Pomeranian. Insured dogs had 4.6 times the odds (95 per cent CI 2.95 to 7.17) of having a diagnosis of CM/SM compared with uninsured dogs. Pain was the most commonly associated clinical sign (67 dogs, 72 per cent). Analgesics were prescribed to 72 (77.4 per cent) of the symptomatic dogs. Despite its low overall period prevalence, the high proportion of affected dogs identified with chronic pain suggests a significant welfare issue. Financial implications could impede the diagnostic process and lead to underestimation of the true prevalence. This study may help to inform clinicians about the clinical relevance and the need for improved awareness of clinical signs, particularly in high-risk breeds, to optimise the management of CM/SM in primary-care practice.

  • Epidemiology
  • Chiari-like malformation
  • syringomyelia
  • prevalence
  • dog
  • breed

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