Scottie Cramps in Dogs: Symptoms and Diagnosis

What is It?

Scottie cramp is a neuromuscular disorder that causes periodic muscle cramps.

What Causes It?

Scottie cramp is an inherited condition. Some specialists believe the root cause is a disorder metabolizing serotonin within the central nervous system. Scottie cramp is brought on by excitement, exercise, anxiety, and stress. Episodes range from mild to severe, lasting up to 30 minutes and can occur several times per day.

In addition to Scottish terriers, Scottie camp has also been known to affect Cesky terriers. This condition manifests in puppies and young dogs.

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What Are The Symptoms?

  • Stiff hind legs
  • Awkward gait
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Falling over
  • Facial twitch
  • Spinal arching

Is it Life Threatening?

No. While the symptoms may be alarming to both pup and owner, they are usually not even painful.

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How is It Diagnosed?

A veterinarian will do a full physical exam and medical history questionnaire. Breed type will trigger suspicions, but other conditions must be ruled out. Some owners will record an episode to show the doctor the exact occurrence. A full blood work panel and serum chemistry panel will be ordered. For a complete diagnosis, serotonin antagonists can be administered to induce an episode. If within two hours cramping begins, the disorder is present.

What Are The Treatments?

Scottie cramp does not have a cure. There are some treatments and lifestyle changes to help manage symptoms. Some owners swear by vitamin E and 5-HTP supplements. Saying vitamin E provides relief from symptoms and 5-HTP replenishes depleted serotonin levels. While it has yet to be fully tested, many dogs have seen significant improvement with CBD supplements.

Some veterinarians may prescribe Prozac or diazepam for severe condition. However, both medications come with side effects that should be discussed at length. Lifestyle modification can also help to mitigate triggers, including reducing exercise and life stressors.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pup’s condition, please make an appointment with your veterinarian. Or, consult a virtual vet here.