Syringomyelia is a condition that may affect brachycephalic breeds like the Brussels Griffon—fluid-filled cavities form within the spinal cord, which may cause severe pain, paralysis, or neurological symptoms.
Symptoms may include:
- Sensitivity to touch
- Gait abnormalities
- Crying out in response to movement
Many dogs with syringomyelia display a behavior referred to as 'phantom scratching,' the act of scratching the shoulder and neck area with their rear leg, without actually making contact with the skin. This may be due to the itch-like sensation they feel as a symptom of syringomyelia.
Dogs who present Chiari-like malformation—a condition related to overcrowding in the small skull—may be more at risk for syringomyelia. The shortened skull and rounded forehead may contribute to the risk of both Chiari-like malformation and syringomyelia. Though symptoms can be severe, medical management or surgery may be an option. Some dogs with these conditions are asymptomatic and require no intervention, but symptoms may present later in life. Syringomyelia and Chiari-like malformation are inherited disorders. Dogs with clinical signs of Chiari-like malformation or syringomyelia should not be bred.