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Scottie Health Issues

We will be adding more health related articles and stories to this page as they come in.

For more health information on the Scottish Terrier please click on the Scottish Terrier Club of America's web link to their ScottiePhiles at http://www.stca.biz/Scottiephile/.

Scotty Cramp
(for more information on "Scotty Cramp" visit the Canine Inherited Disorders Database)

In this disease there is a defect in the nervous pathways that control muscle contraction. This is due to a lack of serotonin which among other functions in the body, serves as a neurotransmitter. Resting levels of serotonin appear to be normal but there is not enough available during periods of exercise or excitement. Affected dogs experience episodes of spasticity and alternating hyperflexion and extension of their legs, and become normal again with rest.

This disorder becomes apparent in affected dogs by 2 to 18 months of age. Dogs are normal at rest or under most conditions of light to moderate exercise. However excitement and continued or strenuous exercise bring on the signs, which range from arching of the back and a "goose-stepping" gait, to incapacitation due to paroxysms of muscular hypertonicity with alternate stretching (hyperextension) and bending (hyperflexion) of the legs.

With the cessation of the stimulus, the signs gradually subside and the dog returns to normal. Affected dogs maintain normal awareness during these episodes, and do not appear to experience pain. Your dog's general health is not affected by this condition. Episodes may increase in severity with changes in the environment or if your dog's health deteriorates for some other reason.

Cerebellar Abiotrophy (CA) in the Scottish Terrier
(for more information on "CA" visit WobblyScotties.com)

"CA" is a newly described disorder in the Scottie. It is a degenerative disease caused by a premature loss of brain cells in the cerebellum, the part of the brain responsible for coordinating movement. This disorder has recently been found to affect Scottish Terriers. Dogs who have it develop "ataxia," in other words, they slowly lose the ability to control their smooth, voluntary muscular movements.

CA is caused by a defective autosomal recessive gene. When a puppy inherits two copies of the gene, one from each parent, he or she is affected and will eventually lose the ability to move in a normal manner. Parents who produce the disease are known as obligate carriers.

Symptoms of CA are variable in each individual. They include clumsiness, an unsteady gait or a loose and wobbly rear end. Some dogs develop a wide-based stance in the rear legs to aid in balance. Abnormal movement of the front legs can also be seen, such as soldier-like marching or a high-stepping gait (prancing). Affected dogs may eventually have difficulty with stairs, trip or fall occasionally and possibly bang their chin. They will exhibit uncoordinated movements that never disappear once they begin at
approximately 6 months of age. Some owners have reported signs very early (several weeks of age) and some haven't recognized symptoms in mildy affected dogs until a later age.

The mind remains normal throughout the disease process. CA is slowly progressive, so a worsening of symptoms can be noticed over the years, but many Scotties remain moderately affected, with their ability to walk preserved. This disorder is not fatal and dogs can live out a full lifespan, barring other disease or complications. No treatment is available and at this time there is no test for carriers.

 

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