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Darwin Displays Agitatied Scratching (Short Video)

Icon_missing_thumb By N | April 29, 2010 | Comments (3)

This is a short video demonstrating Darwin's scratching habit, which seems unusual with respect to frequency and degree of agitation.

Localization: He scratches on both sides of his body, targeting his ribs, neck, ears and jaw.

Frequency: He always scratches within 30 minutes of waking in the morning. Episodes occur sporadically throughout the day, multiple times each day. He also typically scratches before settling in for the night.

Severity: He usually growls while scratching, and occasionally (~30%) he barks or yelps.

Note: This behaviour consistently occurs every morning, when he is not wearing a collar or harness.


Update May 3, 2010: Darwin was admitted to the Canada West Veterinary Specialists & Critical Care Hospital for an MRI scan last Friday. A total of 109 images of his brain, ears, and spine were obtained.

Diagnosis: Caudal occipital malformation syndrome (also known as COMS, Chiari-like malformation, CM and CLM), with no presence of syringomyelia See update below.

Treatment:  A trial course of Gabapentin (75mg PO TID) was recommended as treatment for the neck scratching, since this is likely related to his abnormal anatomy, to be administered three times daily, or tapered and given as needed, depending on it’s efficacy.  Recommendation to consider repeating an MRI scan in 6-12 months time to evaluate for any progression of his findings.


Update September 9, 2010: Darwin's MRI images were reviewed by Dr. Nick Sharp at Canada West Veterinary Specialists & Critical Care Hospital today. His review revealed a small syrinx, leading to a diagnosis of syringomyelia to explain Darwin's scratching episodes.



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Comments on this Article

Hi Nancy,

Just joined and I wish Darwin the best of luck in healing. I feel for you and I think this is a great site. Especially to keep track of things. I would restrict Darwins activity as much as possible. Be there for him and I will keep him in my thoughts. Ella is on several drugs but she seems good tonight. Please keep me updated because I know what a difficult road this must be

OMG watching that video, I felt like I was watching my pup Jack. He too has Chiari malformation. He had an MRI 3 weeks ago and they found a pre-syrinx. The specialist recommended surgery to prevent further progression. He is now on 100mg Gabapentin BID and omeprazole .5mg QD. I am getting a second opinion because surgery seems so drastic but does make sense since this is thought to be a progressive disease. It is so sad that this wonderful breed is so afflicted by this deformity. Please keep me posted on how Darwin is doing.

Irene, Jack's Mom.

Hi Nancy

Sorry to hear about Darwin's health issues. I hope you keep us all updated as to his ongoing condition and how he responds to his recommended treatment. Thank you for sharing! And best wishes.

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