Syringomyelia

Another hereditary condition affecting Cavalier King Charles Spaniels as well as a number of other breeds is called Syringomyelia. In certain animals, a section of the skull is too small, which crowds the brain and blocks the hole at the bottom of the skull. Cerebrospinal fluid is prevented from flowing through the hole and instead enters the spinal cord, creating a cavity called Syringomyelia.

If Syringomyelia is present, canine health symptoms will typically appear between 6 months and 3 years of age, although this condition can develop at any age. This condition is painful to the dog, causing sensitivity around the head, neck and shoulders. It is sometimes detected by owners who observe their pets crying and scratching their shoulders. In mild cases, animals can be treated with painkillers. In more serious cases, a veterinarian can surgically remove a portion of the skull to open up the blocked area. This surgical intervention is most successful in animals that were diagnosed early, before permanent neurological damage occurs. If left untreated, the disease can worsen to the point where euthanasia is the only humane option.

A vet will a require magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test to make a definitive diagnosis. Unfortunately there is currently no DNA screening test that can detect the condition.