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Muscle Cramps in Scottish Terriers

Noninflammatory Hereditary Scotty Cramp in Scottish Terrier

Scotty Cramp, a noninflammatory hereditary condition, affects Scottish Terriers, manifesting as periodic muscle cramps, particularly in dogs under one year of age.

Symptoms and Types

Symptoms usually appear following exercise or when the dog becomes excessively excited. During these episodes, which can last up to 30 minutes, the following signs may be observed:

  • Gasping and shortness of breath; in severe cases, the dog may temporarily stop breathing
  • Contraction of facial muscles
  • Arching of the lumbar spine
  • Stiffening of the hind limbs
  • Sudden collapse


While Scotty Cramp is considered inherited, certain experts suggest that it may stem from a disorder in serotonin metabolism within the dog’s central nervous system.


To diagnose Scotty Cramp, provide your veterinarian with a detailed history of your dog’s health, including the symptoms’ onset and characteristics. Your vet will conduct a comprehensive physical examination, along with tests including a complete blood count, biochemistry profile, and urinalysis, typically yielding results within normal ranges.

Additionally, your veterinarian might administer serotonin antagonists to induce symptoms associated with the disorder for testing purposes. If cramping occurs within two hours (lasting up to eight hours post-initial dosage), it strongly indicates hereditary Scotty Cramp.


Regrettably, there is currently no specific treatment accessible for Scotty Cramp. Nonetheless, behavioral modification and/or adjustments in the environment have demonstrated efficacy and are advised to remove triggers that may precipitate symptom onset.

Living and Management

The overall prognosis is favorable for Scottish Terriers with mild forms of the disorder, whereas those with severe Scotty Cramp face a more pessimistic outlook. Adhere to your veterinarian’s recommendations for behavioral modifications and ensure your dog resides in a stress-free environment, separate from other pets and energetic children.

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