"Non-inflammatory Hereditary Scottie Cramp
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"Non-inflammatory Hereditary Scottie Cramp

Dogs
Health & Safety

Scottie Cramp affects just the one breed, namely Scottish Terriers. It is a hereditary neuromuscular disorder that seems to affect younger dogs under a year old than older more mature Scotties. Much research has been carried out with an end goal being to establish just why some Scottish Terriers inherit the disorder and some experts think that it could be due to a problem in a dog's serotonin metabolism which is found in the central nervous system. The problem is that some of the symptoms are very similar to those of other neurological diseases namely Cerebellar Abiotrophy (CA). As such, a vet would need to establish whether it is CA that is the underlying cause of a dog's episodes or whether it is because they are suffering from Scottie Cramp.

Signs There May be a Problem

The condition generally goes undetected until a dog starts being walked or exercised although signs there may be a problem can also manifest themselves when a Scottie gets very excited or get stressed about something. Symptoms and episodes"" can last as long as thirty minutes which can often be very distressing for owners to have to witness. Affected dogs will typically show the following symptoms when they are experiencing an episode:

  • A shortness of breath
  • Gasping for air and in some cases, a dog could even stop breathing for a few seconds
  • Facial muscles begin to contract
  • A dog might arch their spine
  • A stiffening of their back legs causing a dog to move awkwardly
  • Collapse

Diagnosing the Problem

A vet would need to have a dog's entire history and how the condition presented itself before carrying out a thorough physical examination. They would also need to do a complete blood count together with a urinalysis and a biochemistry profile. Some vets recommend giving a dog that’s been diagnosed with the condition certain serotonin antagonists which would bring on the symptoms of an episode. If after having been given these drugs, a dog starts to show symptoms of the condition within a couple of hours of them having been administered, it usually establishes the fact that a dog is indeed suffering from hereditary Scottie Cramp.

How Long Does an Episode Last?

As previously mentioned, a Scottie Cramp episode can last anything up to 30 minutes and in some cases the signs of there being something wrong can be so mild they often go unnoticed. However, symptoms can also be very severe which can leave owners extremely anxious about the wellbeing of their pets. Some dogs may only have one episode, but these may occur more frequently over time which is especially true if a Scottie dog lives in a stressful environment, namely when they find themselves in a rescue centre or in homes with very young children who can often be quite noisy and boisterous.

The Causes

Scottie Cramp is a hereditary disorder and it's thought to be autosomal recessive which in short, means that both parent dogs would need to have the condition for it to be passed onto to their offspring. As such, careful and selective breeding is essential in order to reduce the risk of the condition being passed on to puppies and all stud dogs should be deemed clear of Scottie Cramp before being used in a breeding programme.

Treating the Condition

Sadly, there is no known cure for the condition and there are very few options when it comes to treating a dog that’s been diagnosed as suffering from Scottie Cramp. However, if a dog only suffers mild symptoms, they can typically live out full and normal lives as it generally does negatively impact the quality of their lives. With this said, it's important that dogs with the condition live in quiet and peaceful environments and to avoid putting them in any stressful situations which could bring on an episode. It also important to restrict a dog's exercise if they are known to suffer from Scottie Cramp.

With this said, some vets might recommend giving a dog some mild sedatives before they are put in any sort of stressful situation as a way of reducing the risk of it happening. It is also thought that Vitamin E can be beneficial, However, a Vitamin E supplement would not diminish the severity of an episode it would only reduce the chances of it happening in the first place.

Living with a Scottie with Scottie Cramp

Should a Scottish Terrier be diagnosed with a mild form of the condition, a vet would recommend looking at their environment and to make sure it is as quiet and stress-free as possible. It is also essential to prevent a dog from getting too excited which can also trigger an episode of Scottie Cramp. It’s also essential to monitor how much exercise they are given and to add Vitamin E to their diet. As previously mentioned, if a dog is going to be put in any sort of stressful situation, a vet might suggest they be given a mild sedative but only after having given a dog that’s known to suffer from Scottie Cramp a full examination.

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