A few weeks ago I received a very sad email for a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel I bred over five years ago being born April 2010, just before I started this website. Scrumpy at just over five and a half years old had died. Jean emailed me the news and was so kind, thanking me for the wonderful five and a half years she had, had with Scrumpy. Five and a half years old in my books is tragically young for a dog to die. I just felt awful. I emailed Jean back and thanked her for being so kind and asked if she could let me know why he had died, so young, but understood if it was not the time yet for her to explain.
She emailed me back and told me it would be easier to speak and tell me what had happened. So I rang her that evening after receiving her email. Jean was very brave telling me what happened and she was looking for answers as well as me.
It seems Scrumpy had a seizure and never regained consciousness. She was not happy with the care he had, had from the vets and frankly talking to her I understand why. When Scrumpy was around twelve months old he had a series of small seizures and he had blood tests and an MRI scan and nothing was found to cause them and they seemed to cease. Jean was in touch with me at the time and it was thought it was just one of those unexplained things and he seemed okay.
Scrumpy then started having the occasional seizure again around the age of two and talking with vets, all they wanted to do was put him on medication. No further investigation and see how he went, but as the seizures were not that long and Jean being a nurse, she felt the effects that can be caused by long term medication for the occasional mild seizure, it was better to see how Scrumpy went on without medication. She had filmed the seizures and showed them to the vet, who seemed to take little interest in looking at them.
Time went on and last month Jean was concerned about Scrumpy and took him to the vets and on examining him and x-raying his heart. She was told he had a heart murmur and a slightly enlarged heart, yet again the vet seemed non plussed by the seizures. Jean was given diuretics for his heart. He then died 2 hours after the visit where Jean was told nothing seriously wrong with him, from a massive seizure, which lasted an hour with in Jean's words, "'NO support from the vets: following two phone calls whilst he was breathing but unconscious in the kitchen." Scrumpy passed away before the vet arrived.
In September 2012, when Scrumpy was two years old the Animal Health Trust (AHT) developed a DNA test for a type of seizure, so far only recorded in Cavaliers, Episodic Falling in the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (EF) To diagnose EF in Cavaliers now, all that is needed to be done is a swab from the check and then AHT can tell you if your Cavalier has this condition or not. The only problem is it seems that not many vets seem to be aware of EF and the fact there is a simple test to diagnose it. So many Cavaliers maybe going undiagnosed and are not being managed well when having this condition.
I had re-homed Scrumpy's Mum, Lucy aka Lucinda and his Father, Charlie just before the test became available. All the Cavalier's we have now are DNA tested for EF and from the fact that Smudge is the only Cavalier we have that is a carrier (these dogs have one copy of the mutation and one normal copy of DNA. These dogs will not develop EF themselves but they will pass the mutation on to approximately 50% of their offspring. So can be bred from, but only to clear dogs.), her Mum, Millie is clear, so that means Charlie the Father of Scrumpy must of given her the genes to be a carrier. So I know for sure that at least one of Scrumpy's parents is a carrier for EF.
I have never had a Cavalier with EF, but looking at a website Cavalier Episodic Falling Syndrome (which was set up by someone who had a Cavalier with EF) videos they have of EF seizures and looking at Scrumpy's seizures I would be pretty certain that Scrumpy had EF. Scrumpy's Mum, Lucy who I only bred one litter from and is now spayed, recently stayed with us and I did think about asking Sue if I could just have her DNA tested, but I felt it would not change what has happened.
Before publishing this blog I sent a copy to Jean to read and okay before publishing and in her reply she asked me to highlight that the vets with her Cavalier seemed to not want to look past heart problems, which is common with these little dogs. Jean said, "Still struggling with our loss he was a true and wonderful friend . Find ourselves talking to him particularly as we put up the Christmas tree. He was always getting in the way full of mischief , O how we miss that .
Think it was the ending that stays traumatic in our minds particularly as NO support from the vets: following two phone calls whilst he was breathing but unconscious in the kitchen. Would be good to highlight Scrumpy died 2 hrs after being given the all clear, nothing seriously wrong with him . Important to stress do not be fobbed off because of vets inability to look further than Heart problems . (Prob a bit strong but feel angry a loving pet was let down )"
There is only to often a general lack of holistic care with Cavaliers. It would of only took a couple seconds for Jean's vets to put 'seizures cavalier king charles spaniel' in the search engine of a computer and they would of found Cavalier Episodic Falling Syndrome and Scrumpy could of received the correct management for his condition.
Jean has been wonderfully understanding and I am very upset to know that Scrumpy died so tragically young. Unfortunately he was bred before we had the DNA test for EF. There is no excuse for Cavalier's to be bred with this devastating condition now though. So let this be a warning to anyone who is looking to get a Cavalier puppy. ONLY BUY from breeders that have DNA tested both parents for Cavalier Episodic Falling Syndrome (EF).
“The greatest pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him, and not only will he not scold you,but he will make a fool of himself, too.”
― Samuel Butler
Me (Jane) with Puddin' and Teagol, waiting patiently to flush a patch of kale, December 2019
Hello, I am Jane!