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Scottie Cramp Symptoms and Treatment

Symptoms and Treatment for This Neurological Disorder

By February 18, 2014 | See Comments

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A Scottish Terrier Outside In The Grass

The distinguished Scottish Terrier is known for their great qualities. But one thing they may not be as well-known for is a neurological disorder called Scottie Cramp. Find out more about this disease and treatment options.

The Scottish Terrier, or Scottie, is a small dog known for their distinctive profile, wiry coat, and bright personality. Unfortunately, the breed can also be also prone to hereditary health concerns. Scottie Cramp is a neurological movement disorder affecting the Scottish Terrier dog breed. Although the condition’s appearance may be startling to a pet parent, it does not usually represent a serious health problem or cause pain for the dog.

Symptoms of Scottie Cramp

Episodes of Scottie Cramp typically first manifest in young dogs or puppies. Symptoms occur during or shortly after periods of intense excitement, stress, or exercise and may include any of the following:

  • Stiff hind limbs that appear cramped
  • Awkward, marching movements
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sudden collapse
  • Gasping
  • Facial muscle contractions
  • Spinal arching

An episode of Scottie Cramp can last up to thirty minutes, with varying levels of severity. Some owners report seeing only a single attack, but they can present more frequently—especially in more active or stressful environments, like homes with children or in shelters.

Scottie Cramp symptoms can be similar to another neurological disease that affects the breed, cerebellar abiotrophy (CA). If your dog’s symptoms are constant and progressive, rather than episodic, your vet may consider CA as the underlying condition.

Causes of Scottie Cramp

The condition is genetically inherited and believed to be autosomal recessive, which means it must be inherited from both parents in order to present symptoms. Careful breeding can help reduce the disorder’s appearance. As such, a dog with Scottie Cramp should not be bred.

The symptoms are thought to be caused by a serotonin metabolism disorder that desynchronizes impulses within the central nervous system.

Diagnosis and Treatment

To diagnose Scottie Cramp, your vet will examine your dog’s health and symptom history. If other factors are ruled out, serotonin antagonists may be administered in order to trigger an episode and confirm diagnosis.

In most mild cases, Scottie Cramp is not believed to impact length or quality of a dog’s life. Although there is no known cure, a few treatment options exist. The first and most holistic treatment approach is behavior modification: if episodes occur after a certain stress level or activity, try to restrict that activity.

Mild sedatives may be useful if behaviors are difficult to modify or in advance of a planned event that may be stressful. Also, Vitamin E is thought to be beneficial in reducing the likelihood of an attack, although it does not appear to impact the severity of the cramping.

More on Scottish Terriers

All About Different Types of Terriers
Westminster Dog Show Winners: The Winning Breeds
The Best Dog Breeds for Older People

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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Scottie Cramp at a glance

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  • 1Scottie Cramp is a genetic disorder that affects Scottish Terriers.
  • 2The most common symptoms are intervals of back leg immobility or stiffness.
  • 3Symptoms typically appear following intense stress or exercise.
  • 4Behavior modification and some medications may be recommended as treatment.
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