Cerebellar Abiotrophy or Scottie Cramp?

Cerebellar Abiotrophy (CA) or Scottie Cramp affects Scottish Terriers. Sometimes this is confused with Scottie Cramp simply because of the unsteady nature of the Scottie when experiencing a bout of “Scottie Cramp”. Here we try and highlight the differences

Cerebellar Abiotrophy (CA)

Initially thought to be “Scottie Cramp” because of the unsteady nature of the back legs, the goose-stepping gait and other irregularities in movement it has taken many years for a true diagnosis to be found and it wasn’t one expected by the owners of those Scotties affected by this “condition”.

It appeared that a new disorder was afflicting Scottish Terriers and became known as Cerebellar Abiotrophy or CA as confirmed by Dr Jerold Bell, DVM, the geneticist working on this disease in the breed.

CA is a progressive degenerative disease resulting from the premature loss of brain cells in the cerebellum, causing ataxia – or the inability to co-ordinate movement. Again this condition has been proven to be hereditary.

This disorder is late on-set and so symptoms will not generally be noticed for some time, but as the brain cells progressively die off, the irregularity in co-ordinated movement will become more apparent.

Scotties with this disorder can live out a full life span; their mind remains normal throughout the disease but they may eventually require assistance or support.

Further Reading : wobbly scottiesCerebellar Abiotrophy: It’s causes and diagnosis, Dr Jerold Bell, 2004

Scottie Cramp

Caused by a disorder in serotonin metabolism that causes either a  shortage or an overdose of available serotonin. It is inherited as an autosomal recessive trait, and often occurs in puppies and young dogs. The condition does not progress as the dog ages, but remains at the same level throughout its life-span. So if your Scottie exhibits a goose-stepping gait and arched spine after either exercise or over excitement you really should make an appointment with your Vet to have your Scottie checked out. It is highly recommended that you do not breed with Scotties exhibiting this condition.

Further Reading : Scotty Cramp, Chris and Hanna Hunter, Pointchester Scottish Terriers, Holland

Which is it? Scottie Cramp or CA

The symptoms of both these conditions are so very similar that only a Vet would be able to distinguish between the two. The main point here is that a Scottie with Cerebellar Abiotrophy will exhibit symptoms that are “constant and progressive“, whilst the symptoms of Scottie Cramp are “occasional and not progressive“.

This article is only intended to provide you with brief information to help you when you speak with your Vet. It remains imperative that any unusual behaviour your Scottie is exhibiting must be diagnosed by your Vet.