Evidence of negative affective state in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels with syringomyelia

Publication date 12th December 2017
Authors A Cockburn, M Smith, Clare Rusbridge, C Fowler, E S Paul, J C Murrell, E J Blackwell, R A Casey, H R Whay, M Mendl


Syringomyelia is a common and chronic neurological disorder affecting Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. The condition is putatively painful, but evaluating the affective component of chronic pain in non-human animals is challenging. Here we employed two methods designed to assess animal affect – the judgement bias and reward loss sensitivity tests – to investigate whether Cavalier King Charles Spaniels with syringomyelia (exhibiting a fluid filled cavity (syrinx) in the spinal cord of ≥2 mm diameter) were in a more negative affective state than those without the condition. Dogs with syringomyelia did not differ in age from those without the condition, but owners reported that they scratched more (P