Overview of Canine Scotty Cramps

Scotty cramps is an inherited neurologic disorder in Scottish terriers characterized by episodic or intermittent muscle rigidity or cramping. It is an inherited condition and is usually seen in Scotties under one year of age, affecting males and females equally. Affected dogs are generally normal at rest and on initiation of exercise.

What to Watch For

Signs of scotty cramps may include: 

  • Spreading of the front limbs during heavy exercise or excitement
  • Arching of the spine
  • Stiffening or overflexion or bending of the hind limbs
  • Frequent falling
  • Changes in respiration
  • Contracted facial muscles.
  • Episodes may last up to 30 minutes
  • Diagnosis of Scotty Cramps

  • Baseline tests to include a complete blood count (CBC), biochemical profile, and urinalysis are recommended in all patients, and may be within normal limits.
  • Screening chest and abdominal radiographs (X-rays) are an important part of any baseline workup, especially to rule out other disorders.
  • Clinical signs may be induced by giving the drug methysergide.
  • Treatment of Scotty Cramps

  • Most dogs are treated on an outpatient basis.
  • Behavioral modification and/or environmental changes such as minimizing stress and excitement may be adequate in some cases.
  • Selected sedatives or tranquilizers may reduce the incidence and severity of episodes.
  • Vitamin E is recommended.
  • Home Care and Prevention

    Administer all medication and institute environmental changes as directed by your veterinarian. Avoid certain medications, such as aspirin and penicillin, as they may worsen signs.

    Do not breed affected dogs and do not repeat breeding the sire and dam (pair) that produced the affected offspring.

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