Royal Veterinary College
Hawkshead Lane
North Mymms
Herts AL9 7TA

RVCA multidisciplinary team from the Royal Veterinary College, with Sandra Sanchis-Mora, MRCVS as primary investigator, is conducting a study on Chiari-like malformation and Syringomyelia (CM/SM) in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. They are validating techniques to measure pain associated with CM/SM and consequences for canine quality of life. These tools will improve the welfare of Cavaliers now and in the future. They are currently seeking dogs and owners to take part in their studies.

In February 2015, the first recruitment aims to validate an owner questionnaire, which was developed with the help of Cavalier owners. Owners and dogs participating will come to the RVC for quantitative sensory testing (QST) and to complete a questionnaire about their dogs. QST is a non-invasive, which requires clipping fur in a little square (1.5 x 1.5cm) on 6 body areas. Mechanical and thermal stimuli will be applied to the skin of these areas to obtain a threshold reading of when the dog responds, indicating s/he can feel the stimulus, whereupon it is immediately removed. These tools are used in humans and are completely safe; they indicate whether sensory perception is in the normal range or altered. The RVC have validated these tools in other breeds with no side effects. They will go home with a collar that measures activity and then they can post it back to the RVC (the RVC will facilitate the envelope etc.).

For this study, dogs in different stages (not affected by CM/SM, affected without pain, or experiencing pain) will be recruited. Preferably, dogs will have had an MRI scan done over the last year to be included in the study. Dogs with other diseases (orthopaedic problems, skin conditions, with heart medication, or disc disease) will not be suitable for this study, but their owners can contact to access the questionnaire.

Second recruitment (commencing April 2015) aims to evaluate efficacy of Pregabalin in symptomatic dogs with CM/SM. The previously validated questionnaire and QST will be used to evaluate efficacy of treatment and will be correlated with drug concentration in blood.

Pregabalin is a drug recently approved to treat neuropathic pain in humans. The objective of this study is to evaluate its efficacy in dogs with CM/SM. Dogs will need to come to RVC 3 times (at 2 weeks interval) and remain in hospital for 24 hours for testing with QST, dosing and blood sampling. They will initially receive 2 weeks treatment of oral placebo or Pregabalin (random allocation) and they will switch to the other treatment for another 2 weeks. A placebo is a tablet, which looks like the investigational product but contains no active ingredient. Owners and investigator will not know which treatment the dog is receiving. This helps the accuracy of the drug evaluation. Dogs will always be on non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs as a baseline pain relief during the whole study. The RVC will be able to re-arrange treatment if at any point it is considered the dog’s welfare is at risk. Owners will complete the refined questionnaire on each appointment. Treatment and stay at the hospital will be free of charge. Owners will receive the blood test results the RVC perform as a health check while the dog is on treatment.

The RVC are recruiting 32 dogs with painful symptomatic CM/SM that have been recently diagnosed by MRI and only started treatment with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for this study. They should preferably not have orthopaedic problems, disc disease or skin condition severe enough to interfere with the pain assessment, nor receive treatment for heart disease.
The RVC Ethics Review Panel and appropriate government regulatory bodies have approved this study. It will be carried out appropriately to ensure the welfare of the dogs is not compromised while participating in the study and maintain the validity and reliability of the trial. If you would like more information or to participate in any study please contact . Alternatively, you can telephone the Clinical Investigation Centre, Royal Veterinary College: 01707 666605.

Please do pass the details of the study onto friends, family and colleagues who are local, and may be interested in participating!
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